A TRIP DOWN MEMORY LANE
A look back at some of the most memorable Test matches between India and Australia
When growing up there was something every young cricket collector wanted to possess. Flicker books, which had ones f avou r it e cricketers striking a batting or bowling pose best enjoyed with a fast f lip of the book. India versus Australia Test matches constitutesa very rich flicker book of sorts. Be it a gritty 30 not out from Chandu Borde in1964towinIndiathecontesttoamagical 281 from VVS Laxman to a brilliant burst from Harbhajan Singh not to forget VVS Laxman’s heroics with Pragyan Ojha in towin2010,itisindeedacontestthatbrings out the best from players of both teams. Steve Smith is right in saying his players will be considered true greats of the game if they win against Virat’s India in India.
As the two teams get ready to battle out the four Test series, here is a look back on some of the most memorable IndiaAustralia contests played on Indian soil.
1959-60: JASU PATEL, THE STAR FOR INDIA
Though India lost the series 1-2, it was a much better result in comparison with the disastrous tour of England in 1959. Jesu Patel was the star for the Indians with his 14 wickets in the Kanpur Test. Taking full advantage of a poor wicket, Patel ran through the Australians after they were off to a good start and were sitting pretty at 128/1 chasing a poor Indian first innings score of 152. India did better in the second innings and left Australia to chase down 225, which was near impossible on a deteriorating pitch. Eventually, Australia was bowled out for 105 and the Indians won the match by 119 runs. This was India’s first victoryagainsttheAustraliansandPatel’s 14 for 124 remained the best Test bowling figuresbyanIndianbowlerfornearlythirty years until Narendra Hirwani picked 16 wickets against the West Indies in 1987. Playingareallygoodsupportinghandwas Polly Umrigar, who finished with match figures of 25-11-27-4.
1964: DEFEATING AUSTRALIA IN BOMBAY IN A THRILLER
In the words of Vijay Merchant: “What a thrilling match we had at the Brabourne Stadium against Australia! Not for a long
time has it been my privilege to witness a match in which fortunes fluctuated not merely from day-to-day but even from session to session. It was one of the most thrilling finishes I have ever witnessed. Matches of this nature and such fluctuating fortunes lift the game far above partisanship and a spirit of rivalry. At the Brabourne Stadium, believe me, it did not matter on that memorable day, October 15, 1964 whether it was India who won the match or Australia…In the last over (of the match) from Veivers a beautiful cover drive and then a hard push to the on by Borde enabled India to register her second victory against Australia…Not for a long timeshallweforgetthismatch-perhapsthe greatest at the Brabourne Stadium.”
2001: MIRACLE AT EDEN
Facts before the start of the third day of the second Test:
Steve Waugh’s Australians had won 16 Test matches in a row.
India had been decimated in a little over than three days at the Wankhede Stadium in Mumbai.
Australia had put up a mammoth 445 in the first innings at Calcutta.
India was reeling at 128-8 at the end of the second day.
What followed still appears unbelievable. AndrewStoddartinthe19thcentury;Mike Brearley in the 20th and Sourav Ganguly in the 21st century. Only twice before had a team risen to erase the ignominy of following-on with a spectacular victory.
This was certainly the most stunning comebackinTestcrickethistory.Manofthe MatchVVSLaxman’srecord-rewriting281, Harbhajan Singh’s hattrick embellished match haul of 13 for 196 and Rahul Dravid’s determined 180 had made this possible. Not to forget Sachin Tendulkar’s five over spell in the last afternoon.
With Ganguly’s Indians garnishing this He has played some of the best second innings knocks ever played. Be it the hundred against Sri Lanka to take India past the finishing line or the match winning 96 againstSouthAfricainDurban,VVSwasat his best in crunch situations and when the team needed him the most. However, nothing betters his 73 not out against Australia at Mohali in 2010. With 92 still to get and India 8 down, not even the most ardent Indianfanwouldhaveexpectedthemiracle that followed. Laxman, battling a sore back and serious pain and with a defiant Ishant Sharma for company ground down the Australian bowlers bringing the team just 11shyofvictory.That’swhenIshantdepartedfallinglegbeforewicketgivingAustralia onefinalsniff.However,itwasnottobewith Pragyan Ojha getting two leg byes of Mitch JohnsontosealoneofIndia’smostmemorable victories leaving Ricky Ponting winless on Indian soil. Laxman’s innings was one of pure determination and character adding much to this rivalry, which inevitably brings out the best from the very best.