India vs Australia - History of Test Cricket Down Under Part 3: 2003-04 to 2014-15
India vs Australia: In part three of the series, we will look at the four tours in the new millennium. A strong Indian team gave a good fight to the Aussies in their backyard in the first decade before fading away as the golden generation walked into the sunset.Updated: Dec 07, 2018 18:18 IST
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
When one talks about the biggest rivalry in cricket, there is little doubt that fans would look beyond The Ashes. England and Australia are the pioneers of the gentleman’s game and their rivalry in Test cricket has over the years assumed the numero uno status. The other rivalry which is as intense and bitter, if not more, is between the Asian neighbours India and Pakistan. But volatile political climate has ensured there has been little or no bilateral cricket between the two nations of late.
The vacuum created by the absence of Indo-Pak cricket was filled by another rivalry towards the beginning of the new millennium as India and Australia locked horns in fierce battles both on the pitch and off it and soon the clash became one of cricket’s marquee contests. As Virat Kohli and his men get ready to launch a fresh campaign down under, it is time to look at the history of Test cricket between the two countries in Australia. India have been on a Test tour to Australia 11 times and their record is miserable to say the least. In 44 Test matches, India have been victorious on only 5 occasions while they have lost 28 matches and 11 have been drawn.
In part three of the series, we will look at the four tours in the new millennium. A strong Indian team gave a good fight to the Aussies in their backyard in the first decade before fading away as the golden generation walked into the sunset.
2003-04: Series drawn 1-1 - Ponting’s heroics help weakened Australia as honours are shared in Steve Waugh’s farewell series
After denying Steve Waugh’s world beating Australian side at the ‘final frontier’ at home, Sourav Ganguly and his men travelled down under with the intention of creating history. The absence of Glenn McGrath and Shane Warne from Australia’s bowling line-up meant the tourists had a great chance of upstaging the hosts.
Justin Langer’s 121 at the top of the order helped the Aussies put up 323 in the first innings at Brisbane, as a rampaging young Zaheer Khan (5/95) broke the back of Australia’s batting. India’s response was led by their skipper Sourav Ganguly, who scored a magnificent 144 to guide the tourists to 409. India had a sizeable lead but Matthew Hayden (99), and the Aussie middle order stayed firm as the hosts declared their second innings on 284/3. India negotiated the 16 overs and the match was drawn.
The second Test at Adelaide turned out to be a memorable one for India as they registered a victory on Australian soil after two decades. Ricky Ponting pulverised the Indian bowling with a masterclass performance, which saw him pile up 242 runs in 352 deliveries with the help of 31 boundaries as the hosts scored 556. The pressure was on the Indians but the duo of Rahul Dravid and VVS Laxman, whose marathon partnership in Kolkata had turned the home series in 2001 on its head, tormented the Aussies again. The duo shared a 303-run fifth wicket stand to frustrate the hosts. Dravid slamming a fine double century (233) while Laxman (148) continued his rich form against the Aussies with a ton as India piled up 523. Two mammoth batting efforts had left little chance of a result in this match too until Ajit Agarkar bowled the spell of his Test career. The Mumbai bowler snared 6 wickets as Australia were bowled out for 196. India had a tricky target of 230 runs to win the match and it was their first innings hero, who stood up again. Dravid remained unbeaten on 72 to guide India to a memorable 6-wicket win.
The third Test at Melbourne had a good start as Virender Sehwag led from the front with a blitz that blew the Aussies away. Sehwag was dismissed 5 runs short of a double century as he gave away a catch in the deep while trying to hit a full toss for a six. The Indian innings crumbled thereafter as the tourists were bowled out for 366. Matthew Hayden (136) and Ricky Ponting (257) took the wind out of India’s sails as they plundered the bowling attack. Ponting was merciless as he pulled, cut and drove with the authority of a military general on the offensive and helped Australia (558) take a massive lead. India were under the pump and although Dravid (92) and Ganguly
(73) tried to pull things back, there was little on offer from the other Indian batsmen. The Aussies chased the target of 95 with ease and tied the series with a 9-wicket victory.
The decider in Sydney was Steve Waugh’s final Test and India were ready to spoil the party. Sachin Tendulkar had been under a lot of scrutiny as he had been getting out to deliveries outside the off stump and the lean patch continued in Australia. All that was going to change at the SCG as Tendulkar walked in to bat after the opening duo of Aakash Chopra (45) and Virender Sehwag (72) had set a good platform. Tendulkar showcased his brilliance as he curbed his natural instinct of going for drives outside the off stump. The ‘Little Master’ played 436 deliveries and scored 241 glorious runs, his second best Test score. He was ably supported by the man the Aussies loved to hate. VVS Laxman played the perfect second fiddle and scored 178 as India declared on 705/7.
The idea was to bat the Aussies out of the match and Anil Kumble’s 8/141 helped India proceed in that direction as the Aussies were bowled out for 474. Ganguly didn’t enforce the follow on and Dravid (91*) and Tendulkar (60) got some quick runs under their belt as the hosts were set an improbable 443 to win the match.
The Aussies were ready for a fight as most of the top order made handy contributions. Kumble picked up 4 wickets but Steve Waugh dug deep into his reserves and scored a patient 80 in his last Test knock to earn a hard fought draw for his team and finished a glorious career in a high.
2007-08: Australia beat India 2-1 - Ugly and controversial series ends with the Aussies edging India out
By the time India visited Australia under Anil Kumble’s captaincy in the summer of 2007-08, the clash had become the biggest in cricket as both sides were not ready to give an inch. The Aussies had converted sledging their opponents into their 12th man and India were given a taste of the hostility early in the series.
In the first Test at Melboune, Matthew Hayden’s 124 powered the Aussies to 343 in the first innings. Captain Kumble (5/84) and Zaheer Khan (4/94) kept the Aussies in check. Brett Lee (4/46) and Stuart Clarke (4/28) triggered an Indian collapse as the tourists were bowled out for 196. Australia declared their second innings on 351/7 to set India a target of 499 runs. The Indian batting failed to fire again and Australia won the match in emphatic fashion by 337 runs.
The second Test at Sydney will go down as a dark chapter in the history of cricketing relations between the two countries. A spate of questionable decision by umpires Mark Benson and Steve Bucknor left the Indians miserable. Andrew Symonds’ unbeaten 162 powered the Aussies to 463 all out. Tendulkar’s unbeaten 154 and another Laxman (109) century guided India to 532. Hayden struck yet another century (123) and a Michael Hussey classic (145*) meant India had to chase 333 runs to level the series. Michael Clarke and Symonds picked up 3 wickets each as India slumped against spin and lost the match by 122 runs. “Only one team was playing in the spirit of the game, that’s all I can say,” commented Indian captain Anil Kumble after the Test.
The controversy wouldn’t end there as the Australians lodged an official complaint against off spinner Harbhajan Singh whom they said had called Symonds ‘Monkey’ in what was termed as racial abuse. Match referee Mike Proctor ruled in favour of the Aussies and Harbhajan was banned for three matches. BCCI got involved in the issue and threatened to pull out of the series. Another hearing was conducted into the matter and this time Tendulkar, one of the eye-witnesses, said that Harbhajan had abused Symonds in Hindi and the term he used sounded more like the word monkey. ICC cleared Harbhajan and the tour was saved. But cricketing relations between the two countries hit its nadir.
With the series up for grabs at Perth, Australia went in hard at the Indians in the third Test. Dravid (93) and Tendulkar (71) took the Indian total to 330. RP Singh’s four-wicket haul helped India restrict the Aussies to 212. Another team effort took India to 294 in the second innings as Australia were set 413 to win the match. Australia were going strong in their chase but the Indian bowlers kept picking wickets at regular intervals and eventually bowled the Aussies out for 340. India had completed a stunning comeback into the series with a 72-run win.
India needed a win in the final Test to tie the series but the match at Adelaide turned out to be a run-fest. Tendulkar’s 153 guided India to 526 while Hayden (103), Ricky Ponting (140) and Michale Clarke (118) scored tons to take the hosts to 563. Virender Sehwag lit up the Adelaide Oval with a 151 in the second innings as the match ended in a draw and Australia won the series.
2011-12: Australia beat India 4-0 - Clarke’s Australia whitewash ageing India
India visited Australia after being stripped off their status as the top Test playing nation with a 0-4 whitewash at England. Captain Dhoni and the fabled Indian middle-order wanted to redeem themselves and the first Test at Melbourne started well for the tourists.
Zaheer Khan was the pick of the bowlers with 4 wickets as the Aussies folded for a below-par 333 in the first innings. Ben Hilfenhaus returned the favour with a five-wicket haul as India were bowled out for 282. Umesh Yadav breathed fire in the second innings as Australia crumbled to 27/4 before an ageing Ricky Ponting (60) and battle hardened Michael Hussey (89) put on 115 for the fifth wicket. But it was the last wicket partnership of 43 runs between James Pattinson (37*) and Hilfenhaus that hurt India the most. A target of 292 tuned out to be too much for the Indians as Pattinson returned to pick 4 wickets while Peter Siddle contributed with 3 as the Aussies won by 122 runs.
The fast bowling trio of Pattinson, Hilfenhaus and Siddle tormented India again in the first innings of the second Test at Sydney, picking up 3 wickets each as the tourists were bowled out for 191. Ricky Ponting turned the clock back with a magnificent 134 while captain Michael Clarke was at his imperious best, scoring an unbeaten 329 in the company of Michael Hussey, who remained unbeaten on 150 as the hosts declared on 659/4. Gautam Gambhir (83), Tendulkar (80), Laxman (66), Ashwin (62) all contributed as India managed 400 but that didn’t save them from a humiliating defeat by an innings and 68 runs.
The script was similar at Perth as India failed to go past 200 in both the innings and eventually lost the match by an innings and 37 runs. David Warner scored 180 in Australia’s first innings while Ben Hilfenhaus wrecked the Indians by picking up 8 wickets in the match.
At Adelaide it was another Ponting-Clarke show as they put on 386 runs for the fourth wicket to pile further misery on the Indians. Ponting (221) and Clarke (210) struck the Indian bowlers to all parts of the ground to put together Australia’s highest ever stand against India. Virat Kohli’s fledgling Test career was given a boost as he scored a fighting 116 but India were bowled out for 272. The Aussies set India a target of 500 runs to try and save themselves from a whitewash but India were bundled out for 201 and completed the rout.
2014-15: Australia beat India 2-0 - Grief-stricken Aussies upstage a spirited Virat Kohli as Dhoni bids adieu to Tests
This series had all the makings of a potboiler as an in form Virat Kohli was to take the Australian bowlers head on. But even before the start of the series, a tragic incident left Australian cricket mourning. Test star Phil Hughes was hit on the head by a bouncer in a domestic match and he died a few days later due to the injury.
There was a point when the series was getting postponed before the Australians gathered themselves for the fight. An injury kept Indian captain MS Dhoni out of the first Test at Adelaide and that meant Virat Kohli was leading the Test side for the first time. David Warner (145), captain Michael Clarke (128) and Steven Smith (162) schooled the Indian bowlers and helped the hosts put on 517 in the first innings. Kohli showcased his class on the bouncy track with a century (115) and was supported ably by the top order as the Indians scored 444. Warner scored another century as the toothless Indian bowling failed to make any impact. Clarke declared the second innings on 290 to set India a challenging target of 364 runs to win the match. Murali Vijay (99) and Kohli (141) took the attack to the Aussies and put 185 for the third wicket as India came close to chasing the total down. But off spinner Nathan Lyon picked up 7 wickets to trigger a collapse and India lost the match by 48 runs.
Vijay carried his form to Brisbane and struck a fluent 144 at the top of the order as India managed to score 408 in the first innings. Stand-in Australian captain Steve Smith scored 133 as the hosts managed to put 505 on the board, thanks mainly to tailenders Mitchell Johnson (88) and Mitchell Starc (52) for scoring crucial runs down the order. India were bowled out for 224 in the second innings, which left Australia to chase 128 runs to win the match. The hosts stumbled on their way to the low target, but eventually won by 4 wickets.
The third Test at Melbourne was drawn with batsmen from both teams making merry. Steve Smith’s 192 powered the Aussies to 530, while Kohli (169) and Ajinkya Rahane (147) struck fluent tons to take India to 465 as Australia wrapped up the series with one Test to go. The end of the match also saw Indian captain MS Dhoni bring the curtains down on his Test career in a surprising and shocking decision.
The last Test at Sydney witnessed the beginning of the Virat Kohli era in Indian Test history and it started with another high scoring draw. Australia’s stand-in captain Smith scored 117 and Kohli responded with a 147 of his own. The match was special for a young KL Rahul, who scored his maiden Test ton (110) in his second match. Australia declared their second innings at 251 to set India a target of 349 runs. The Indians though hung on with Rahane and Bhuvneshwar Kumar staying unbeaten to clinch a draw.
First Published: Dec 07, 2018 17:55 IST