Australia vs India 2018-19: Sydney has never been kind to India in the past
Heartbreaks in draws
Out of the five draws that India managed against Australia at Sydney, India should have won three of those matches.
The Test match in 1986
The 1985-86 series in Australia was the biggest disappointing series for India in terms of missed opportunities. India should have won a series in Australia 32 years back in 1986 itself. The Indian team led by Kapil Dev was one of the strongest team in the world at that time.
On the other hand, the Australian team under Allan Border was a team in transition after the retirement of legends like Greg Chappell, Dennis Lillee, and Rodney Marsh. Players like David Boon, Geoff Marsh, and Steve Waugh were relatively new and were finding their feet in International cricket.
To explain things in the right perspective, the missed opportunity in the earlier Test at Melbourne has to be presented first. After a tame draw in the first Test at Adelaide, India won the toss at Melbourne and elected to field.
Kapil Dev was justified in his decision when Australia first slipped to 41 for 3 and then to 127 for 6. Thereafter Greg Mathews, more of a bowling all-rounder, with support from the tail added 135 runs for the last four wickets. Greg Mattews himself completed his maiden Test hundred and Australia finished with a respectable 262 in the first innings.
In reply, India made 445 with contribution from Kris Srikkanth (86), Dilip Vengsarkar (75) and Kapil Dev (55). Australia started their second innings with a first innings deficit of 183 and were soon reduced to 84 for 4. However, the Australian Captain Allan Border scored a magnificent 163 and along with the tail took the game into the fifth day.
At the end of the fourth day, Australia were 228 for 8 with Border on 98 and Bruce Reid on 11. In the first session of the fifth morning, Allan Border moved from 98 to 163 with the help of the tail. India needed 125 for a win in two sessions. When India reached 59 for 2 heavens opened up and washed out the remaining day’s play with India just 66 runs away from a win with eight wickets in hand.
Following this huge disappointment at Melbourne, India started the final Test at Sydney on a positive note when their top order Krish Srikkanth (116), Sunil Gavaskar (172) and Mohinder Amarnath (138) all scored hundreds. India declared their first innings close at 600 for 4.
In reply, Australia at one stage were 369 for 4 with the follow-on target just 32 runs away. But due to an outstanding bowling spell from Shivilal Yadav, Australia collapsed to 396 and India enforced the follow-on. Meanwhile, about 40 overs were lost on the third day due to rain.
In the second innings, when Australia were 60 for 3, an Indian win seemed imminent. But Greg Ritchie played to the situation and scored 17 not out off 157 balls. In the end, when stumps were drawn, Australia were 119 for 6, 85 runs away from avoiding an innings defeat. The overs lost on the third day due to rain proved critical for India in the final equation.
India finished their disappointing series without a win after dominating more than 80% of the matches. Had the weather Gods smiled on India, India should have won that series in Australia 32 years back. The heartbreaking draw in the Sydney Test was the last straw on the camel’s back.