Cricket

Seven Best Knocks By Indians Down Under

Australia.

One of the most fabled contests of extreme sporting sequences throughout the glittering antiquity of cricket have always been between India and Australia. Spanning from Vijay Harare’s gritty response to Sir Donald Bradman to Rahul Dravid’s relentless and bleeding persistence, the contest between these two sides has always gifted the cricket zealots the finest brand of cricket.

May it be Australia visiting India or vice versa, it is always a more gripping tale than the Ashes that spans over a period of a prolonged month to settle the scores between two of the best cricketing nations and also carve an unstated bout of prestige between them.

Today, we will look at seven knocks from Indian cricketers Down Under that set the tones of India’s dominance with the blade irrespective of the upshot.

1. Rahul Dravid – 233 at Adelaide in 2003

This was one of the most brazen knocks crafted by any Indian in the face of sheer defeat. Not only did this knock help India save the blushes but they produced a fine victory that helped them share the spoils of the series later a Sydney.

India was pegged down left and right in the first innings as Ricky Ponting smoked the Indian bowlers into all corners of the park with salient assistance from Simon Katich and Jason Gillespie while the others played instrumental cameos to set the tally for Australia to 556 in the first innings. Anil Kumble was the pick of the Indian bowlers as he managed to scalp five wickets.

India was off to a good start but tumbled shortly as Bichel outclassed the cream of Indian batting removing Akash Chopra, Virender Sehwag and Sachin Tendulkar in quick succession. Saurav Ganguly was run out in no time as India was left reeling at 85 for 4.

Staring at a humiliating drubbing, Laxman and Dravid started stitching a tad bit of resistance that gave the Indians some hope. After weathering the initial storm, the duo started carving some exquisite strokes those were a spectacle for the sore eyes.

The patience and the resilience that these two exhibited left the Australian bowlers frustrated. The duo stitched an incredible partnership of 303 runs as Laxman was finally removed by Bichel. Parthiv Patel then offered the last bit of resistance as a batsman alongside Rahul Dravid as they were able to push the score to 447.

After Patel fell to Katich, Dravid continued with his war alone as the tail-enders at the other end were no match for the minatory Australian bowlers. Dravid pressed the accelerator as he was successfully able to steer India within safe distance of Australia’s first innings score.

Ajit Agarkar breathed fire with the ball in the second innings that saw India bundling the Aussies for a paltry 196. Chasing 230 to win, India did face some resistance from the Australian bowlers but it was Dravid’s painstaking 70 in the second innings that saw India through, penning an absolutely incredulous victory in the Australian soil.

2. Sachin Tendulkar – 241 at Sydney in 2004

The Master Blaster has always been one of the most quintessential benchmarks of batting throughout the world. If there is someone who could drew comparison of himself to the all-time great, Sir Don Bradman, that was India’s all-time leading run-scorer Sachin.

One such example of his magnificence was posted at the Sydney Cricket Ground that almost saw India wringing out an impossible series victory only to be let down by a missed chance of dismissing Steve Waugh in the second innings and post that some dogged resistance in his swansong as the Australian captain.

India won the toss and elected to bat first. Sehwag and Akash Chopra provided a good start to the innings only to crumble in quick succession. Dravid and Tendulkar took over the mantle and started tiring the Aussie bowlers out. Sachin was at his premium best while Dravid played some classic strokes before he was removed for a gritty 38.

Laxman arrived at the crease and started rebuilding the innings with one of India’s finest and the Australian bowlers had no answer whatsoever to the sway held by Sachin and Laxman. The duo stitched a sedulous partnership of 353 runs and helped India to post a monunental total of 547 before Laxman departed.

Sachin continued with his first-class brand of ruthless aggression and was supported well by Parthiv Patel towards the end. Ganguly declared the innings at 705 for 7 with Tendulkar remaining not out for a wholesome 241 till the end.

Despite Anil Kumble’s eight-wicket haul on the first innings, Australia still managed to post a fighting total of 474 which was countered by 211 runs for the loss of 2 wickets in India’s second innings. Dravid stayed unbeaten at 91 with a bloody ear dangling by a piece of flesh when Lee bowled a nasty bouncer that missed his grille and stuck his ear. Sachin played a breezy 60 in the second innings too that helped India post a mammoth target of 443 on the board.

Once again, Kumble led the attack for India to almost impose a defeat on the Australians, however, a late turnaround by the captain, Steve Waugh left India deprived of a remarkable victory.

3. VVS Laxman – 167 at Sydney in 2000

If there has been someone who has consistently sparked nightmares for Australia, may it be in India or Down Under, that is VVS Laxman. He was also one of the best test batsmen, India has ever produced.

However, in 2000, he was new to this entire rivalry and despite Indian crumbling like nine pins, it was Laxman who gave Australia a bitter taste of the offing to arrive.

It was the third test of the series that saw India being skittled out for a paltry 150 in the first innings. Justin Langer and Ricky Ponting rode roughshod over the Indian bowlers to post 552 on the card.

India’s batting line-up was equally woeful in the second innings that saw them being bundled out for 261 but the solitary shaft of hope for India was a persistent VVS Laxman, who scored 167 in that innings while the others barely scraped through to double-digit figures.

He struck 27 boundaries in the innings and played 198 balls before Lee finally made him nick to Gilchrist that snuffed out India’s resistanve against the mighty Australians. Despite the fact that India bowed out with their heads hung low in dudgeon, the way Laxman carried on with the imperious dominance in the latter part of his career against the Aussies was nothing short of marvellous.

4. Virat Kohli – 141 at Adelaide in 2014

Another ton in another lost cause, but Virat Kohli showcased exemplary brilliance on his debut as the Test captain of India. His gritty 141 in the second innings almost stole the match away from them only to be undone by the collapse of the entire middle-order that saw India falling short by 48 runs in the end.

In response to Australia’s 517 in the first innings, India crafted a brilliant reply of 444, thanks to an incredible century from Kohli that saw him smoking 115 in the first innings.

Australia batted breezily throughout the second innings and posted a target of 364 for India to chase.

Despite the early losses of Dhawan and Pujara, Kohli and Murli Vijay batted brilliantly to stall Australia’s aggression. Vijay played an anchoring role, while Kohli embarked upon the onslaught.

The duo stitched an incredible partnership of 185 runs before Lyon trapped Vijay plumb in front of the stumps. This wicket of Vijay opened the floodgates and the Australia bowlers razed through the Indian middle-order and the tail with consummate ease. Kohli fought almost till the dying end before Lyon removed him from the crease, putting an end to India’s resistance, once and for all. Though India lost the game, the heart that they took from the battle did leave Australia scared.

5. Cheteshwar Pujara – 123 at Adelaide in 2018

Pujara is dubbed as one of India’s most prolific Test batsman ever after the departure of Rahul Dravid. His patience, resilience, consistency, persistence and dominance has left the stalwarts of the sport challenged.

It was the first day of the Test at Adelaide where the Indian batters were being treaded upon like womp rats by the Australian bowlers.

India lost their first four wickets within 41 runs and was staring at a humiliating fall-out as the Australian bowlers showed no signs of relent.

Pujara started to fight a lost war from the other end while batsmen at the other end did stitch cameos before being dismissed.

It was Pujara who led the battle until the end of the first day with a gritty 123 from 246 balls only to fall short of the crease in the final delivery of the day. He played 7 boundaries and 2 sixes in his brilliant knock and helped India pile a respectable total of 250 in the first innings.

The combined efforts of Ishant Sharma, Bumrah, Shami and Ashwin skittled Austalia out for 235 in the first innings. Pujara scored another brazen 71 in the second innings that helped India amass 307 runs.

The Australian batting line up was not up to the mark and came a cropper to the collective touche of Shami, Bumrah and Ashwin, penning a humdinger victory for India at Adelaide.

6. Vijay Harare – 116 and 145 at Adelaide in 1947-48

When we talk about great knocks against Australia by Indians, we cannot miss out the man who became the first Indian to chronicle two centuries in both the innings of the game, and also the second batsman in the world to acheive this feat after Denis Compton. We are talking about the legendary, Vijay Harare, who clubbed two back-to-back centuries in the same Test against a Bradman-led Australia.

The Australian bowling line-up was touted to be one of the most intimidating bowling line-ups of the world at that point in time, bragging about the likes of Keith Miller and Ray Lindwall.

Such was the brilliance of Harare’s innings that the great Bradman remarked, “I was impressed by the soundness of Hazare and the correctness of his stroke production. I have no wish to be dogmatic on the point at this stage. I merely want to call attention to his skill and his right to be classed as a great player.”

Despite these two centuries from Hazare, India couldn’t wring out a victory as the Don himself blasted a magnificent knock in the first innings that was more than enough to derail India’s dreams.

7. Saurav Ganguly – 144 at Brisbane in 2003

What would eventually turn out into a remarkable tour for India, the tones of India’s valour were set on day 2 of the first test at Brisbane.

In response to Australia’s 323 in the first innings, India was off to a rocky start as they were wombling at 62 for 3. This is when Saurav Ganguly and Aakash Chopra dropped anchor. Despite Chopra getting out, Laxman played the perfect partner to the Indian captain who conjured exquisite timing to torment the Australian bowlers with exquisite strokeplay and relentless truculence.

Ganguly was finally caught by Gillespie for 144 when he couldn’t preclude himself from striking MacGill and in the process miscued his shot.

Despite Ganguly getting out, Zaheer Khan played a brilliant knock in the end to help India post 409.

What could have been a victorious outing for the Indians, was marred by the unkindness of the Rain Gods and both India and Australia shared the spoils.

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