With the Indian cricket team having arrived in Australia for yet another grueling tour, we take a look back at India’s rare wins Down Under over the years. In the opening part, we tell you about India’s maiden Test triumph in Australia, which came during the 1977-78 tour at Melbourne.
The background: India were 2-0 down in the series having lost at Brisbane and Melbourne. Although they were down on confidence, they could have taken heart from the fact that both the defeats were closely contested – 16 runs and two wickets being the margin of victories.
India: Sunil Gavaskar, Chetan Chauhan, Mohinder Amarnath, Gundappa Viswanath, Dilip Vengsarkar, Ashok Mankad, Syed Kirmani, Karsan Ghavri, Erapalli Prasanna, Bishen Singh Bedi and Bhagwath Chandrasekhar
Australia: John Dyson, Gary Cosier, David Ogilvie, Craig Serjeant, Bob Simpson, Peter Toohey, Tony Mann, Steve Rixon, Wayne Clark, Jeff Thomson and Sam Gannon
The match: India batted first in the game, having won the toss. They were off to a terrible start, with both openers Sunil Gavaskar and Chetan Chauhan being dismissed without scoring. However, half-centuries from Mohinder Amarnath and Gundappa Viswanath, and good cameos from Ashok Mankad and Syed Kirmani helped them recover. Still, India were bowled out for 256, as Wayne Clark an Jeff Thomson combined to claim seven scalps. Bhagwath Chandrasekhar, however, ran through the Aussie line-up in reply, with figures of 6 for 52 as the hosts were cleaned up for 213 in just a little over 50 overs. This, in spite of half-centuries from opener Gary Cosier and Craig Serjeant.
India’s response in the second innings was what set up the match for the hosts brilliantly. Gavaskar came up with a magnificent century at the top of the order. His 118 spanned 350 minutes during which he faced 285 balls and hit 12 fours as well. Gavaskar was well-supported by Viswanath, who got his second half-century of the match. His 54, aided by Ashok Mankad’s 38 and Mohinder Amarnath’s 41 helped India reach a fighting 343. Clark again starred for Australia with 4 for 96.
Australia were set a highly competitive 387 to win. Although it seemed like a tough task, they were a team in form, having won the first two Tests, and thus would have backed themselves to overhaul the target. However, the Indian spinners again took centre stage. Chandasekhar returned with identical figures of 6 for 52, and was well supported by Bishen Singh Bedi, who claimed 4 for 58. Only Cosier and Clark got 30s as the Aussies were bowled over for 164, and India won their first Test in Australia, by a handsome margin of 222 runs.
--By A Cricket Analyst