India and Australia are rivals. Period. We will not build it up further or state what has been stated again and again in the run-up to the Boxing Day Test. Instead, here's a list of the best clashes between the two teams that go on the make this on-field rivalry, rival any other.
When a player takes pain-killers to play a Test, one knows the Test is of a high stature. And so Kapil Dev over-powered his hamstring strain when skipper Sunil Gavaskar told him he was needed. Melbourne in 1981 saw Kapil claim five wickets despite his physical troubles as Australia plummeted to 83. 7 wickets fell for a measly 43 and India won its first Test Down Under.
There was a cricketer called Sandeep Patil. Before fans can scream they know, it is more to emphasize on his feat at Adelaide in 1981. Patil was hit by a bouncer from Pacoe in the previous Test and he had to retire though he had scored a confident 65 off 70. He returned to smash 174 off 220 to avenge for his physical hurt as opposition skipper Kim Hughes' 8 bowlers were left searching for cover. The match though, ended in a draw.
The tied Test of 1986 was a match of classic proportions. It was the second tied Test in the history of the sport. Australia scored 574 powered by Dean Jones' 210. India replied with 397. The visitors at Chennai then declared on 170/5. Maninder Singh was the last man to fall for India in the fourth innings, claimed by Greg Matthews. With the score on 347 (India were 204/2 at one stage), the match ended on a tie.
He was 18 when he arrived in Perth and though Sachin Tendulkar had been around for a few years, it was the Test in the 4th Test of the series that changed Indian cricket forever. Sachin smashed 114 against a bowling line-up of Craig McDermott and Paul Reiffel. To add insult to injury or pride to skill (depending on team supported), the second fifty came in 55 balls. The prodigy was here to stay.
Sachin had established himself as a master by 1998. Then again, Shane Warne was no rookie either. Therefore the Chennai Test was billed as a Warne vs Tendulkar show. While Warne drew first blood when he removed Sachin on 4 in the first innings, Tendulkar replied with 155 in the second to shatter any talks of the duel being decided in the Australian's favour.
Steve Waugh called it the last citadel, others called it a bastion while many others saw India as the final frontier for Steve Waugh and his men. The fort looked like collapsing in Mumbai but VVS Laxman and Rahul Dravid armed themselves to the teeth in the next Test. Eden witnessed a 376-run stand between the two. The Test was lost by the visitors and so was the next one for the Indian empire to flourish on home soil.
The Sydney Test in the (Australian) summer of 2003 was when India showed Australia that the challenge posed was for real and it could be sustained. With the series in a balance, India began the Test by batting Australia out. The visitors scored 705 (a double for Sachin). Australia eventually found themselves needing 443 in the final Test match that would feature Steve Waugh. Anil Kumble claimed 8 wickets in the first innings. Waugh though scored 80 to force a draw although many blasted umpire Steve Bucknoor for faulting on several occasions.
Ricky Ponting was a class apart both as skipper and a player in 2003. India showed great fighting spirit to reach the final of the World Cup that year, under Sourav Ganguly. The spirit was ravaged by the Australians as they stole 234 runs in the final 30 overs, 100 in the last eight to leave India with only a whiff but not the cup itself. Ponting walked away with glory, the World Cup and 140 runs to boot.
Australia scored 463; India scored 532; Australia replied with 401; India crashed to 210. This Sydney Test in 2008 though had nothing to do with numbers. It finds itself here because of Harbhajan-Symonds spat. Someone called someone a monkey and we had a controversy of mammoth proportions. Details are only too well known and all those who saw/read about it can vouch for the intensity of the brewing rivalry.
Australia stood in India's way in the 2011 World Cup (vice-versa if you may). Ahmedabad hosted the quarter-final match and Australia set a target of 261 for India. Their coach had already billed it as a mini-final but the hosts were like a group of trained soldiers on a mission as the target scored was achieved with 14 balls and 5 wickets to spare. Sachin and Gautam Gambhir had fifties to their name as India avenged their loss in 2003 by dumping Ponting and his men out of the tournament.
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