India-Australia clashes have always been a feisty affair with runs, wickets and sledging galore. Over the course of this fast-growing rivalry, many players have stood up and imprinted their names in a series between two of the best teams in cricket, be it playing the role of a lone warrior scoring a defiant ton in a losing cause or a match-winning spell in a thriller. Here we look at Indian players who propelled themselves into stardom from an India-Australia clash.
Ravi Shastri put in a perfect all-rounder’s performance as he helped India win the 1985 Benson Hedges World Series title by virtue of being the third-highest run-scorer with 182 runs while also picking up eight wickets. In the final against Pakistan, Shastri hit an unbeaten 63 to help India win the match and was crowned ‘Champion of Champions’ for his performance throughout the series. Shastri was awarded an Audi 100 sedan and one of the most iconic images from the series feature the Indian team driving around the ground for a lap of honour.
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Sachin Tendulkar: When Australia recognised the wrath of the master blaster
Coming into India’s 1991-92 tour Down Under, Sachin Tendulkar was the teenage prodigy everyone was excited about. After having lost the first two Tests, India managed to draw the third Test in Sydney on the back of Ravi Shastri’s double hundred and a brilliant 148 from Tendulkar. But it was his ton in the fifth Test at Perth that defined the Master Blaster’s first tour of Australia. With wickets falling at the other end, Tendulkar stood tall against the Australian legendary pace attack of Merv Hughes, Craig McDermott and Paul Reiffel and hit a defiant 114. Sachin Tendulkar had arrived.
Yuvraj Singh: When the Prince of Indian Cricket took Australian pacers Glenn Mcgrath and Brett Lee to the cleaners
After bursting onto the scene following his exploits in India’s victorious U-19 World Cup campaign, Yuvraj Singh was drafted into the senior side to play in the 2000 Knockout Cup. Playing only in his second ODI in the quarter-final and up against an Australian bowling attack comprising of Glenn McGrath, Brett Lee and Jason Gillespie, Yuvraj Singh smashed an 80 ball 84 to help India to a match-winning total of 265/9. That innings propelled the Prince of Indian cricket announced his name in bright lights and the rest, as they say, is history.
VVS Laxman: Laxman claimed God’s Test match
When asked about the famous 2001 Kolkata Test Sourav Ganguly famously said, “It was God’s Test match”. Looking back on the match, it was also the Test that propelled VVS Laxman and Rahul Dravid to a demi-God status. After being bundled out for 171 runs in the first innings, India were forced to follow on. Despite getting off to a decent start, India still faced the prospect of defeat. However, Laxman and Dravid batted through day 4 and stitched a 376-run stand which allowed India to set Australia a target of 384 runs. India bowled out the visitors to nab a memorable win. Laxman’s 281 and Dravid’s 180 are crucial milestones in India’s journey to becoming world beaters.
Harbhajan Singh: The birth of the Turbanator against the Aussies
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India were dealt a blow in the run-up to Australia’s tour when Anil Kumble was ruled out of the series with an injury. Sourav Ganguly backed a young Harbhajan Singh to lead India’s spin-bowling attack and Bhajji grabbed the opportunity with both hands. Harbhajan claimed 13 wickets including a hat-trick in the historic win in Kolkata and finished the series with 32 wickets. Not only was Harbhajan adjudged the Man of the Match in the final Test but was also named Man of the Series.