With the limited-overs leg of the Australia-India series done and dusted, it's time to shift focus towards the upcoming four-Test series, starting with the pink ball Test in Adelaide on 17 December.
It was only last year that India won their maiden Test series Down Under. However, right from their first Australia tour in 1947-48, there have been some clinical batting and bowling performances that are still cherished by our cricket-crazy nation.
And so, after revisiting the top 10 knocks by Indian batsmen in Australia, it’s time to take a look at India’s 10 best bowling displays:
Jasprit Bumrah (6/33 at MCG, Border Gavaskar Trophy 2018-19)
Jasprit Bumrah led the Indian bowling unit with aplomb during India’s last tour of Australia. The speedster remains central to the visitor’s success once again as they begin their defence of the Border Gavaskar Trophy.
After India declared their innings at 443/7, Bumrah sliced through the Aussie batting line up with a clever mix of yorkers, slower ones and bouncers. He dismissed Harris with a sharp bouncer as the left-hander holed out to Ishant at fine leg. Shaun Marsh was clueless about a slower one that trapped him LBW, and an inch-perfect delivery dislodged Travis Head’s stumps. Tim Paine edged one to Rishabh Pant behind the stumps, and Bumrah was just too good for the lower order batsmen.
Adding 106 to their lead, India set a target of 399 before the hosts. And even then, Bumrah picked up three crucial wickets to set up a 137-run win for India. Deservingly, India’s yorker specialist was adjudged the Player of the Match.
Ishant Sharma’s iconic spell to Ponting at WACA in 2007-08
It was a pleasing sight for many, especially the Indian cricket fans and pundits, to witness speedster Ishant Sharma trouble Australian great Ricky Ponting. In fact, in his 14th year as an international cricketer, that iconic spell to Ponting, for many, continues to define the lanky pacer.
The then 19-year-old played with Ponting’s mind, bowling superb inswingers and varying his lengths before dismissing the Aussie great in both the innings of the Test. The pacer scalped three wickets in the match.
Writing in his Captain’s Diary 2008 Ponting said: "Tall, lean, ultra-impressive Ishant Sharma, playing just his fourth Test and still eight-and-a-half months short of his 20th birthday, had bowled an awesome spell to me: seven overs when he was fast, aggressive and relentless, where I never felt as if I was truly 'in'.”
Ajit Agarkar (6/41 at Adelaide, 2003/04)
The Adelaide Test is often remembered for Rahul Dravid’s brilliant 233. India were reeling at 85/4 at in the first innings. Together, with VVS Laxman, Dravid forged a solid 303-run partnership stand to steer the visitors out of trouble. Laxman played second fiddle to Dravid but missed out on 150 by just two runs. Despite posting a mammoth 556, Australia could only take 33-run lead in the first innings.
In the bowling department, however, it was Ajit Agarkar (6/41) who played a major role as India drew first blood in a Test series Down Under in the 21st century. The Mumbai pacer made early inroads by first trapping opener Justin Langer LBW and then removing Ricky Ponting, who had scored a double century in the first innings, to put India on top. He returned to run through Australia's lower order, taking four quick wickets.
Agarkar’s heroics ensured that the Aussies were dismissed under 200, which set up India a gettable 230 to win. India eventually won the Test by four wickets, with Dravid once again starring with a 72*.
Anil Kumble (8/141 at SCG, Border Gavaskar Trophy 2003/04)
Prior to the fourth Test at Sydney, the series was 1-1, and Anil Kumble’s eight-wicket haul almost put India on the brink of a historic series win Down Under.
Sachin Tendulkar (241*) and VVS Laxman (178) powered the visitors to a massive first innings total of 705/7 (declared). In reply, Simon Katich (125) and Justin Langer (117) made noteworthy contributions but the Aussies were bundled out for 474, courtesy a phenomenal display of leg-spin bowling by Kumble.
Apart from picking the prized scalps of centurions Katich and Langer, ‘Jumbo’ dismissed Matthew Hayden and Damien Martyn. And then, he cleaned up the Aussie tail to finish with eight wickets. The leggie’s 8/141, his best spell overseas, handed India a huge 231-run lead.
Kumble once again starred with the ball in the second innings, taking a four-for, but a defiant Steve Waugh’s 80 and Simon Katich’s 77 made sure Australia escaped with a draw.
India would have wanted a favourable result, but regardless, the legend’s 12-wicket haul in the Sydney counts as one of the most sublime spells by a spinner in recent memory.
Bhagwath Chandrasekhar’s 6/52 and 6/52 at MCG in 1977/78
Australia entered the third Test of the five-match series with a 2-0 lead. The hosts’ momentum, however, was stalled by leggie Chandrasekhar, who almost single-handedly turned the contest in India’s favour.
Mohinder Amarnath (72) and Gundappa Viswanath (59) powered India to 256 in the first innings. In the bowling department, spinner BS Chandrasekhar stole the show, claiming 6/52, as Australia were bundled out for 213. Chandrasekhar’s noteworthy scalps included opener Gary Cosier (67), Craig Serjeant (who top-scored with 85) and skipper Bob Simpson.
Eventually, India set a target of 387 before the hosts, riding on handy contributions from Sunil Gavaskar (118) and Viswanath (54).
And once again, Chandrasekhar ran through the Aussie batting line up, finishing with identical figures of (6/52), the leggie’s economy rate of 1.95 highlighting his dominance.
Bishan Singh Bedi’s 4/58 at MCG (1977/78)
Before the MCG Test, skipper Bedi picked up three five-wicket hauls in the first two Tests. Yet, they weren’t enough as India lost by a close margin in both the Tests.
Even in the third Test, the left-arm spinner was among the wickets. He picked up two wickets in the first innings. But he bowled the spell of his lifetime (4/58) in the second innings as the Aussies were bundled out for a paltry 164. Much to the skipper’s delight, India won the Test by a massive margin of 222 runs.
Chandrasekhar’s spell of 6/52 in the first innings and Gavaskar’s 118-run knock in the second innings were the other noteworthy contributions for India in the third Test.
Kapil Dev (5/28 at MCG, 1980/81)
Chasing a modest target of 143, Australia were bundled out for 83 due to Kapil’s five-for. India’s win was crucial in the context of the three-match series as the visitors drew 1-1.
Viswanath (114) shone in the first innings while Chetan Chauhan (85) and Sunil Gavaskar (70) made it count with the bat in India’s second essay.
Kapil, having finished with just one wicket in the first innings, looked a completely different bowler in the second, registering remarkable figures of 5/28. Interestingly, the Indian all-rounder was suffering from a groin strain that time.
Kapil Dev (8/106 at Adelaide, 1985-86)
Kapil, India’s talismanic all-rounder, again starred with the ball five years after his 5/28 spell at MCG.
In the first Test at Adelaide, Kapil single-handedly sliced through the Aussie batting line up, snapping eight wickets. These also included the prized scalps of David Boon (123) and Greg Ritchie (128) and Allan Border (49).
Alongside the wicket-taking deliveries, he bowled potent bouncers at regular intervals which made life difficult for batsmen at the crease, especially those down the order.
In response to Australia’s 381, India posted a massive total of 520 in the first innings. The match eventually resulted in a draw with hosts’ score reading 17/0 in the second innings. Notably, all the three Tests in the 1985/86 series ended in a draw.
Till date, Kapil’s 8/106 are the best bowling figures by an Indian in a Test innings Down Under.
RP Singh’s 4/68 at WACA, 2007-08
The Sydney Test in the 2008 Border Gavaskar series was where the infamous 'monkeygate' incident took place. Indian fans won’t have fond memories of the Test due to a poor display of sportsmanship by the Aussies. Besides, India were 0-2 down in the series. But things turned in India’s favour in the third Test at Perth.
India posted 330 in the first innings, courtesy contributions from Rahul Dravid (93) and Sachin Tendulkar (71). Yes, Ishant’s sublime spell to Ponting made the headlines, but RP Singh led the bowling attack, ending with figures of 4/68 in the first innings as Australia were bundled out for 212. All of Singh’s wickets came in a similar fashion. His precise lines and swing saw the batsmen falter as they kept edging to wicket-keeper MS Dhoni.
Despite Michael Clarke’s 81 and Mitchell Johnson’s 50*, a target of 413 was too good for the Australians, who succumbed to a 72-run defeat. Singh, meanwhile, added two wickets to his tally in the second essay.
Shivlal Yadav (5/99 at Sydney, 1985-1986)
Like the first two games, the final Test of the three-match series at Sydney also ended in a draw.
Batting first, India declared their innings at 600/4, riding on centuries from Gavaskar (172), Kris Srikkanth (116) and Mohinder Amarnath (138). Off-spinner Shivlal Yadav followed it up with a remarkable bowling spell, claiming 5/99, and dismissing the likes of Greg Ritchie, Greg Matthews and Steve Waugh, as the Aussies were bundled out for 396.
The visitors enforced a follow on and once again, Yadav got into the act, claiming three wickets. Due to lack of support from the other bowlers, however, Australia finished at 119/6 and the visitors had to settle for a draw.
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