Ahead of the deciding Test of the Border-Gavaskar Trophy in Dharamsala, here’s a look at some classic Test series deciders between India and Australia.
NEW DELHI: If it seemed unthinkable that there would be a deadlock heading into the fourth and final Test of the Border-Gavaskar Trophy, it was because Virat Kohli's team was on a record unbeaten home streak and Australia were back in India after failing to win nine consecutive Tests in Asia.
And yet here we are. Dharmsala's HPCA Stadium, with the stunning backdrop of the Dhauladar mountain range, is the setting for a Test match with plenty at stake. India have not got their hands on the Border-Gavaskar Trophy since 2014-15, while Australia can take it home if they win and claim a memorable series victory.
What better time to revisit five classic India v Australia Test series deciders?
This most engaging series duel between the two teams ended in a crushing win for Australia which gave them the series 3-2. Bob Simpson's home team had gone up 2-0 with narrow wins in Brisbane (by 16 runs) and Perth (by two wickets) before Bishan Bedi's tourists hit back with big victories in Melbourne (by 222 runs) and Sydney (by an innings and two runs). Thus, it was all to play for at the Adelaide Oval.
Simpson won a great toss and opted to bat, and was the second centurion in an innings that produced a giant 505 in 112.4 overs. India's start was poor, slipping to 23/3, before Gundappa Vishwanath (89), Dilip Vengsarkar (44) and Syed Kirmani (48) resisted. India, however, got as far as 269.
A second-innings total of 256 by Australia meant India had to chase 493 to win or bat out the remainder of the Test to leave the country with a more than creditable draw. Innings of fits and starts - Mohinder Amarnath made 86, Vishwanath 73 and Vengsarkar 78 - saw Bedi's men to 445, which was a record total in a losing cause, and India were bowled out for 445. It was stirring from India to get so close and further evidence that the 1978-79 series was one for the ages.
India needed a victory to avoid another series defeat. After losing in Sydney and drawing in Adelaide, Sunil Gavaskar's team defeated Australia by 59 runs after bowling them out for 83 in the second innings. It was one of the most engrossing Tests played between the two teams, not only because of Australia's stunning collapse but because the tourists nearly forfeited the match. Gavaskar was infuriated at an lbw decision against himself and wanted to call off the contest.
India made 237 on the back of a splendid 114 from Vishwanath, following which Australia posted 419 with a century from Allan Border and gutsy knocks by Greg Chappell and Doug Walters. With India needing 182 to avoid the follow-on, Gavaskar and Chetan Chauhan played solidly to end the third day having reduced Australia's lead of 182 by 108, and on the fourth they added another 57 before Gavaskar's contentious dismissal and dramatic walk-out.
Vengsarkar, Viswanath and Sandeep Patil helped rebuild the innings but a late collapse meant that Australia needed just 143 to claim the series. Up stepped Kapil Dev in one of of his best overseas performance, taking five wickets to send Australia hurtling to 83 all out.
The stage was set for a gripping final Test at a historic venue and what transpired over five unforgettable days added to many terming the 2000-01 series as the best played in India ever. Matthew Hayden continued his impressive form with a sweep-filled maiden double-century but Harbhajan Singh collected 7/133 to keep the tourists to 391. In India's reply, Sachin Tendulkar scored a superb 126 and put on 169 with Rahul Dravid as India managed a lead of 110.
In Australia's second innings Mark Waugh scored 57 while adding 100 with Justin Langer and brother Steve as Australia battled into the fifth day on 241/7. Harbhajan took the last six Australian wickets for 15 runs in 17.1 overs to finish with a career-best 8/84; that set India a target of 155. Australia chipped away at India's batting and rescued the hosts to 135/7, raising hopes of a famous series-clinching victory late on day five. India lost their eighth wicket at 151 but Sameer Dighe and Harbhajan kept their nerves to seal a thrilling two-wicket win that gave India the series.
Steve Waugh's 168th and final Test ended in a draw, with the series shared after four engaging matches against Sourav Ganguly's brave men. It was a gripping Test, with India dominating after Ganguly won the toss and opted to bat under a blazing hot sky. India's then record total of 705/7 was centered around an out-of-form Tendulkar's monumental unbeaten 241 - his 32nd Test century, level with Waugh - in which he made a conscious effort to play the ball to leg (28 of his 33 boundaries and 188 of his runs came to the on-side) and featured in an Indian record fourth-wicket alliance of 353 with VVS Laxman (178).
India went into the fourth and final Test at Nagpur in November 2008 with a 1-0 advantage, and duly proceeded to beat Australia by 172 runs to win back the series trophy. Tendulkar scored a fine 109 to carry India to 441 even as the debutant offspinner Jason Krejza took 8/215 from 43.5 overs; Harbhajan became the third Indian bowler to 300 Test wickets as India took the first-innings lead; Ganguly followed 85 in his penultimate innings with a first-ball duck in his last; and the match ended with MS Dhoni handing over the captaincy to Ganguly during the final passage of the Test. Fittingly, it was exactly eight years to the day that Ganguly began his tenure as captain in 2000.
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