(MENAFN- Khaleej Times)
Published: Wed 8 Feb 2023, 8:10 AM
Last updated: Wed 8 Feb 2023, 8:21 AM
The Ashes rivalry between the old enemies Australia and England has always been kept on a pedestal. But if there is another rivalry that can match, or even supersede, the Ashes over the noughties, it is the India versus Australia one.
The war-worn Steve Waugh, who had led his Invincibles to 15 Test wins, called it the 'Final Frontier.' However, his all-conquering team went empty-handed - the 2001 Eden Gardens Test highlights still fresh in the memory of every India fan.
“When Australia last came here, in 2000-01, they blew in as hot as a desert wind after 15 consecutive Test wins. By the time they left they may have felt that India's 330 million gods were against them,” Paul Weaver wrote in The Guardian.
The 'Final Frontier' was eventually conquered in 2004 with the Border-Gavaskar Trophy going to the visitors. It was the last time that the Aussies won a Test series after the 1969-70 tour.
There have been many epic tussles over the last two decades that have spawned many books and documentaries.
The rivalry has taken on different proportions and is now part of folklore.
The Australians, by their own admission, on the upcoming tour, which begins with the first Test in Nagpur on Thursday, said that winning in India is bigger than an Ashes series win.
This rivalry is littered with plenty of unforgettable wins for either side.
Here, we bring you five great Indian Test wins over Australia. 1. 2001 Eden Gardens Test
This should easily rank as one of the greatest Test matches of all-time, irrespective of who the contenders were. This was also the best advertisement for Test cricket.
Waugh's Invincibles were well on their road to scaling the 'Final Frontier' after knocking India over by 10 wickets inside three days at the Wankhede in Mumbai. And the script played out to almost near perfection for the Aussies in Kolkata as they racked up an imposing 445 and then having India down for a pittance - 171. India were forced to follow on with 274 runs in arrears. It was a massive mountain left to climb and after they lost four wickets still 42 runs adrift, it resembled crossing the treacherous Khumbu Icefall on the Mount Everest ascent.
But those two nice guys, VVS Laxman (281) and Rahul Dravid (180), conjured a riposte of epic proportions with a 376-run alliance. India took the match in their grasp, declaring at a mammoth 657-7 and bowled the Aussies out for 212 for an unlikely 171-run victory. Off-spinner Harbhajan Singh, who had taken seven wickets in the first innings, nailed it with a six-wicket scalp. 2. 2001 Chennai Test
After that riveting contest at Eden Gardens, it had all come down to the Chepauk. And the Aussies were relentless, throwing in the first punch with 391 on the board after riding on the broad and bulky shoulders of Matthew Hayden, who scored 203. Mark Waugh made 70 while brother Steve most famously handled the ball to be out three runs short of a half-century.
Harbhajan Singh, who had an unforgettable series, scalped seven wickets. India replied with 501 with Sachin Tendulkar scoring 12, opener Shiv Sunder Das 84 and Rahul Dravid 81, Laxman 65 and opener Sadagopan Ramesh 61. The Aussies could only muster 264 with Harbhajan the wrecker in chief yet again with eight wickets in the second innings.
But India, chasing 155, suffered a stunning collapse after Laxman got out for 66. In the end, it was Harbhajan who dragged India over the line with the bat for a tense two-wicket win. 3. 2004 Adelaide Test
Think 2004 Adelaide, and Rahul Dravid's textbook cover drive (which people would have paid millions to watch) comes to mind. But before that, a certain Ricky Ponting unfurled a double (242) as the Australians posted an imposing 556. India were down in the dumps after Andy Bichel scythed through India's top order, leaving them tantalisingly on the edge of a cliff at 85-4 after captain Sourav Ganguly's departure.
It had come down to those two nice blokes - Dravid and VVS Laxman - and it was left to them to do an Eden Gardens all over again. And surely, it was an Eden Gardens sequel with Rahul 'The Wall' Dravid conjuring an epic 233 and VVS a 148. Their 303-run association for the fifth wicket took India to 523. Mumbai pacer Ajit Agarkar knocked the Aussies over with 6-41 to have them all out for 196. With 230 runs to get, Dravid was not over just yet, seeing India through an unbeaten 72. 4. 2010 Mohali Test
This game was cutting it too close for India. Australia had racked up 428 on the back of opener Shane Watson's 126 and Tim Paine's 92. Indian pacer Zaheer Khan took 5-94. None of the Indian batsmen could translate their knocks into triple figures, with Sachin Tendulkar making 98, Suresh Raina 86, Rahul Dravid 77 and opener Virender Sehwag 59. India finished up with 405 as Mitchell Johnson returned with a five-wicket haul.
India's bowling attack of Zaheer, Ishant Sharma, Harbhajan Singh and Pragyan Ojha kept things tight to restrict Australia to 192, leaving them 216 runs to get. India made heavy weather of the chase after Ben Hilfenhaus and Doug Bollinger tightened the screws.
With India tottering on 124-8, it was almost done and dusted. But VVS Laxman, who had battled a bad back with painkillers, and tailender Ojha too see them home by one wicket. 5. 2021 Brisbane Test
The Gabba is many things but more importantly Australia's bastion, their fortress. Right up until then, Australia had not lost a single Test match at the Gabba in 32 years. It was a record that they bragged proudly about until the Aussies were brought to their knees by what they termed in Season 2 of the Amazon Prime documentary 'The Test,' a“India 'B' team.”
With then captain Virat Kohli on paternity leave after the Adelaide debacle, the walking wounded Hanuma Vihari and R Ashwin's heroic show in Sydney kept India alive in the contest. And the Gabba witnessed another brilliant fightback by an injury-ravaged Indian team.
The Aussies had racked up 369 on the back of Marnus Labuschagne's hundred. India replied with 336. Australia were all out for 294 in their second innings after Shardul Thakur took four wickets. India needed 328 to win the Test and the series. Opener Shubman Gill and Cheteshwar Pujara put on 114 runs for the second wicket to keep India in the hunt after which Rishabh Pant ran riot against Australia. It had effectively boiled down to a One-Day International chase and Pant made merry with an unbeaten 89 to take India to a famous match and series win.
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