There have been 24 series in all between Australia and India. The ledger as it stands has Australia in front with 12 series win. But it is closing. India has seven series victories to their name. There have been five drawn series.
It didn’t start well for India, beginning with a five-test series in 1947/48 against The Invincibles. They ran into a rampant Sir Donald Bradman, who plundered four centuries including a double-ton at the Adelaide Oval. It could have been worse. He retired hurt in the fifth test at the MCG and even slid down the batting order to number six in the third test in Melbourne. He still peeled off an unbeaten 127. Australia won six of the first seven series between the two nations, then things started to tighten up. India made history on Australia’s six test tour in 1979/80, winning the series 2-nil. Australia’s series win in 2004/05 is their only success in 47 years. It remains the most challenging and demanding test tour for an Australian cricketer. Their battles have played host to some of the most famous moments in test cricket history. Here is the Spartan Sports first XI:
11 – December 2003, Adelaide
They called him The Wall but at the Adelaide Oval in 2003, Rahul Dravid played the role of enforcer as India set about overhauling Australia’s mammoth first innings total of 556. After Ricky Ponting hammered 242, India found themselves at 4/85, but Dravid found a familiar ally in VVS Laxman and they added 303 for the fifth wicket. Trailing by just 33, Ajit Agarkar then skittled Australia with 6/41. Dravid again came to the fore, piloting the chase with an unbeaten 70 for a 1-nil series lead.
10 – December 1959, Kanpur
It may have taken India 32 years to win a test series against Australia but their first test win came on Christmas Eve in 1959 in Kanpur. Despite Alan Davidson’s 12 wickets for the match and a 67-run first innings deficit, spin twins Jasubhai Patel and Polly Umrigar ran through Richie Benaud’s men as they chased 225 for victory. Patel finished with 13 wickets for the match, including a first innings haul of 9/69, still the 10th best figures of all time. India won the test by 119 runs.
9 – January 2008, Sydney
This one may not please too many of our Indian readers who are still scratching their heads wondering how Australia managed to turn a draw into a famous test win. Remembered largely for some unsavoury incidents on and off the field, this test match produced some remarkable cricket. With Australia 6-134, Andrew Symonds hit an unbeaten 162 – again – another talking point for Indian supporters! Brad Hogg and Brett Lee both supported him with half centuries, before VVS Laxman and Sachin Tendulkar both smashed masterful centuries to put India in front. Matthew Hayden and Mike Hussey countered with twin tons and the declaration left India needing 333 for victory. A draw looked the only option until Ricky Ponting threw the ball to Michael Clarke late on the fifth day and he produced a slice of magic with three wickets in five deliveries to hand Australia the most unlikely of wins.
8 – October 1964, Mumbai
A famous victory for India that looked out of reach as they pursued 254 in the fourth innings. With runs coming at a crawl, the Australians looked to be on track when they reduced India to 6-122 on the final day. But after top-scoring with 86 in the first innings, the Nawab of Pataudi Jr came to the rescue once again, nudging his way to a 203-ball 53. He found some support from the lower-order and India reached their target 8-down. This match saw Australia play the entire match with 10 men after Norm O’Neill was struck down with a stomach bug after the coin toss. He couldn’t bat in either innings!
7 – December 1977, Perth
Australia’s new look side led by Bobby Simpson staggered over the line in pursuit of 339 for victory. Bishen Bedi was at his best and even found the bouncy WACA deck to his liking with a 10-wicket haul but it was a century from leg-spinner Tony Mann that got Australia home. Batting at first-drop he became just the second nightwatchman in history to score a test ton. Simpson hit a game high 176 in the first innings but it almost wasn’t enough as the Aussies limped to victory eight-down. It came after another cliffhanger just a fortnight earlier when Australia took the first test by 16 runs.
6 – October 2010, Mohali
Ricky Ponting played in a lot of test matches. 168 to be exact. He ranks this one as one of the most exciting he was involved in. Why? Because it could have gone either way and if not for Australia’s old nemesis VVS Laxman, the result may well have been different. It was test match cricket at its best. Runs galore in each first innings with Shane Watson’s 126 the lone century of the test match. Sachin Tendulkar made 98 and the quicks enjoyed some fun. Zaheer Khan took eight wickets for the match. Mitchel Johnson grabbed a five-wicket haul in India’s first innings. Then, the traditional second innings staggers set in and chasing 216 India were reduced to 8-124. And somehow, they won the game. Ishant Sharma stuck solid for 92 deliveries but fell, perhaps incorrectly, with 9 runs still to get. Then it got really interesting. Pragyan Ojha was struck on the pads and a good shout, that was given not out, was compounded when Steve Smith’s shy at the stumps raced away for four overthrows. Two to get and they came from two leg byes soon after. It was a cliffhanger result and just the 12th match in test history decided by one wicket.
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