Quite simply it is the biggest rivalry in world cricket for past decade or just before the commencement of the same. One can argue that even before that India-Australia games have been closer than most of the other countries. So without further ado let me give to you the top 10 greatest moments in Indo-Australian cricket history.Ahead of the India Australia QF tomorrow lets look at this rivalry bit more closely.A post that I had compiled and posted on my first blog(before the wordpress one) long before the last time India played Australia in their backyard.
10) Sunil Gavaskar – Dennis Lillee spat Melbourne 1981
Going into the final game Australia led 1-0 in the series. Sunil Gavaskar who was not exactly having the best of series finally found some form in second innings when he carved out 70. It was at this stage that Dennis Lillee bowled a off-cutter that hit Sunny on pads right infront of stump. While the umpire gave him leg before wicket Sunny was adamant he had got a bat on it. Aussies and Lillee taunted him which infuriated him further and Sunil walked off along with his opening partner Chetan Chauhan. Thanks to Indian Manager Durrani Chauhan sent back the team to commence the innings and a walk-off was averted.
9) Little Master arrives Perth 1991/92:
While Sachin Tendulkar had been around for 2-3 years now, the trip Down Under in 91/92 was perhaps the one after which he really took off. His innings of the summer came in 4th Test at Perth. Against an attack that read McDermott / Reiffel / Hughes / Whitney a young Tendulkar scored 114.Coming at 2 down he was the 2nd last wicket to fall. As he ran out of partners he accelerated and scored his last 50 in 55 deliveries. Wisden called it “captivating” and “scintillating” and a legend was here to stay.
8) The Warne-Tendulkar clash, Chennai 1998
The most awaited clash of the 90s. Two stars at the absolute best of their peak. Tendulkar had practised lot and hard in the nets to face Warne, and Warne was rumoured to have spent an entire summer trying to figure out how best to take out SRT. It seemed that Warne had done his homework when he took out the best batsman in the world for 4 runs in first innings. In the 2nd innings Sachin hit the ground running and was particularly severe on Warne. He compiled a brisk 155 with 4 giant sixes. Wisden called his strokeplay “awesome belligerence”. Warne called it a nightmare, which he carried well till the last game he played against India.
7) The game Ponting made India forget, World Cup finals 2003:
Quite simply the most ferocious innings played in World Cup finals. Facing India in the finals Australia lost the toss and were put in to bat. After a good opening by Gilchrist and Hayden, Ponting arrived at the center with a healthy platform to launch an assault. And how! The last 30 overs yielded a cool 234 runs with last 100 runs coming in 8 overs. By the end Ponting had smashed 140* with 8 sixes, broken bunch of World cup batting records and practically ended India’s World Cup dream by himself.
6) Patil gets his revenge, Adelaide 1981
Before he tried his luck in Bollywood, Sandeep Patil was a swasbuckler famous in Bombay for hitting sixes into the Arabian sea on request of beauties. He had started the 1981 series in same mould when he scored a brisk 65 off 70 odd deliveries against an attack that read Lillee / Hogg / Pascoe. While a bouncer he was hit bad on his head by Pascoe and would have to retire hurt. If anything it spurred him on further as he smashed a career high 174 off 220 deliveries in next test at Adelaide. Sunil Gavaskar called it pure genius while Aussie skipper Kim Hughes had to try 8 bowlers, including himself to get Patil out.
5) The greatest innings for Australia, Chennai 1987
Dean Jones faught a blistering heat combined with heavy humidity at Chennai to play what Bob Simpson maintains is the greatest innings ever played for Australia. If the heat and cramps that followed was not exactly a problem Deano ran into a belligerent Alan Border who refused to allow Jones to leave. At one time Dean Jones was batting diarrohea and losing water so fast he lost substantial weight in the middle. At the end of his innings(210) he was rushed to the hospital and left Alan Border wondering if he had killed his number 3.
4) Kapil takes pain killers/injections….and 5 wickets, Melbourne 1981
In the last Test of the series with Aussies leading 1-0 and needing 143 to take the series 2-0, captain Sunny Gavaskar told Kapil he needed him. Kapil at the time was suffering from hamstring issues and had bowled little in first innings. Taking pain killers and cortisone shots he decided to give it one last go. Ghavri and Doshi assisted him brilliantly as Aussies crashed to 83, the last 7 wickets falling for 43. Kapil had dragged himself past the pain barrier and India had won its first Test in Australia.
3) A belligerent spinner,a battling Iceman, a rookie keeper and a drunk umpire, Sydney 2003
By any account the closest series played in Australia for past decade and a half. Much to the surprise of the world champions India had drawn the first blood and won the 2nd test. Aussies won the 3rd and it was all down to the 3rd Test. India batting first scored a mammoth 705 thanks mainly to a double century by Sachin. The innings effectively put Australia out of the series.With a large score behind him Kumble took out 8 wickets as Australia were set to chase 443 runs in last innings. In what would be his last Test Steve “Iceman” Waugh played a gallant 80 and ensured Australia did not lose. India were left ruing many a missed chances, some due to its rookie keeper and other due to drunk umpiring by Bucknor. Still there was little doubt as to which team was the winner ultimately. Scribes, Australia and otherwise, were openly suggesting how Other teams could learn from India.
2) The Greatest Test played on Indian soil, Chennai 1986/87
Quite simply the greatest test played on Indian soil, and as good as any test played ever. The second Tied test at Chennai had everything a cricket fan could ask for. Good innings by David Boon, superhuman effort by Dean Jones. A collapse of Indian tall order followed by a scintillating fightback by Kapil Dev as only he could. A quick 2nd innings run by Australia and a target to chase 348 on the last day of the Test. India took the challenge, kept on scoring at about 4 in an era unheard of. Aussies kept chipping wickets and it finally boiled down to 18 off 30 balls with 3 wickets. Then Sharma and More fell quickly. India’s Xth batsman Yadav slammed a six to take India closer. On the other end the wily Ravi Shastri kept pushing for ones and twos and finally India were within 2 runs of the victory. Shastri pushed towards Steve Waugh, took a single and made sure India did not lose the test. Scores are tied. Maninder Singh, the XIth bat, played the next delivery circumspectly and was adjudged lbw to the next one from Greg Matthews. Aussies players ran celebrating, many unsure if they had won or drawn or tied. None more excited than Greg Matthews who had bowled unchanged for 40 odd overs. The 2nd tied test in cricket history, and in no other sports would you ever have so much fun out of a tied result.
1) The last citadel stands tall, India-Australia 2001
Steve Waugh called it the last citadel he wanted to capture. And it seemed like capture he would. Aussies were coming on in record breaking mode(they had won 14 consecutive Test) and they continued the form in the first test at Mumbai that they won rather easily. In 2nd test they had India on the mats with India 270 runs behind in 2nd innings and top 3 wickets gone for 100 or so. Enter VVS. He had been in good form all along the series and he dug in to play one of the greatest innings of all time. With Rahul Dravid he put on 376 runs together as from a hopeless position India suddenly looked the favorite to win. The innings was fantastic not only for the runs but also the effect on Aussies. The top bowlers – Mcgrath, Gillespie, Kasparowiz, Warne – were cut to size and gave away about 500 runs amongst themselves. So much so that Aussie skipper had to ask Ponting, Hayden, Slater and Langer to turn their arms over. India would declare at a mammoth 650 plus and Aussies wilted under pressure to lose their first test in years. For good measures they lost the next one too.
The series changed VVS to Very Very Special, it also changed the “follow-on” policy of Australia for good.
Steve Waugh would concede that this was the greatest series ever. But importantly he would concede that the last citadel was still standing.