Border Gavaskar Trophy 2003/04: An enthralling series and farewell to Steve Waugh
As Indians go on another tour of Australia, the expectations are high this time. A relatively weak Australian side which is sans David Warner and Steve Smith along with concerns in the bowling line up stack the odds in favour of India.
With Virat Kohli silencing his critics with his bat in England, India’s middle order and openers would have to play their parts well if the tourists are to clinch their first test series victory down under.
While the recent overseas tours of South Africa and England raised eyebrows when it came to decision making and selection, it would not be only the players who would be feeling the heat. Roles of Coach Ravi Shastri and the support staff have been under the scanner repeatedly.
While India have won only a handful of Tests in Australia, they drew the Test series in 2003-04 under Sourav Ganguly - a captain who worked tirelessly towards his goal of winning overseas. His disagreements with selectors were frequent common. He was aggressive, could motivate the youngsters and as Anil Kumble remarked once, 'Sourav Ganguly taught us to win overseas'.
The Indian squad relied on the famed middle order - Rahul Dravid, Sachin Tendulkar, Sourav Ganguly and VVS Laxman. With Virender Sehwag and Akash Chopra at the top, the batting line up looked solid.
Zaheer Khan, Ajit Agarkar, Ashish Nehra and the then wonder-boy Irfan Pathan shouldered the fast bowling responsibility. Anil Kumble was picked as Sourav Ganguly was adamant and wanted the champion spinner with him.
Australians traditional discomfort against Off spinners meant that Harbhajan Singh would also make the squad. With memories of a drubbing in the previous tour in 1999 fresh, Indians were expected to face some hostile bowling on the quick and bouncy tracks. Add to these the Australian crowd, any tour of Australia could possibly be the worst nightmare for a touring player.
The absence of Glenn McGrath and Shane Warne because of an injury and a ban respectively were setbacks to Australia but the Australian team of that generation had enough reinforcements - few replacements were at times deemed as better than the replaced.
After the customary warm-up matches, the teams met at the Gabba for the first Test of the series.