The Indian cricket team's 5 most memorable away Test wins of the 21st century
- Here is a look at the 5 most memorable away Test wins for the Indian cricket team in the 21st century.
- Three of these wins have come in Australia, with one win each in England and South Africa.
The Indian cricket team joined the Test fold in 1932, with their first away tour to England. But for almost 40 years, they were considered the also-rans in world cricket, with Test wins few and far between.
The Indian team gave the first indication of becoming a major force in world cricket with dual overseas Test series wins against West Indies and England in 1971. But this turned out to be a flash in the pan, as this was followed by very few Test wins, and those too were primarily at home.
The Indian cricket team's success in the 1983 World Cup and the 1985 World Championship of Cricket made them one of the top teams in the ODI format, but they were still lagging in the longer version of the game.
The 1990s brought an upswing in the Indian Test team's fortunes in the spinner-friendly home conditions. With the emergence of the great Anil Kumble and able assistance from other spinners, the Indian team ground almost every homecoming team to dust. However, their away record still left a lot to be desired.
It was only in the early 2000s under the leadership of Sourav Ganguly that India came to be recognised as a team that were no longer lambs to be slaughtered away from home. The Indian cricket team finally had a host of penetrative pace bowlers at their disposal, along with one of the all-time greatest batting and spin-bowling lineups. They were a force to reckon with even in foreign conditions.
Although there have been a few hiccups along the way, the current Indian team under Virat Kohli has maintained this momentum. A maiden Test series win in Australia and their position at the top of the ICC World Test Championship points table is ample proof of their growing prowess as a Test-playing nation, even away from home.
Let us have a look at the 5 most memorable away Test wins for the Indian cricket team, victories that went a long way in establishing them as one of the biggest superpowers of the modern game.
The Indian cricket team's 5 most memorable away Test victories of the 21st century
#5 India vs South Africa at Johannesburg in 2006 - India won by 123 runs
India took on the Proteas in the first Test of their tour to South Africa, at Johannesburg from 15th to 18th December 2006. Rahul Dravid, the Indian captain, won the toss and elected to bat first.
On a lively pitch, India were dismissed for a fighting first innings score of 249 runs. Ganguly was the top scorer with an unbeaten 51, with all the middle-order batsmen chipping in with some useful runs.
The South Africans were blown away in their first innings, dismissed for just 84 runs in only 25.1 overs. The mercurial S. Sreesanth was the wrecker-in-chief, with his prodigious swing and seam movement. He dismantled the South African top and middle order to return figures of 5/40. He was ably supported by the other bowlers, with Zaheer Khan and Kumble pitching in with 2 wickets apiece.
With a handsome 165-run lead in the first innings, the Indian team had the upper hand. They did not release the stranglehold as they put on a score of 236 runs in their 2nd innings, setting a huge target of 402 runs for the South Africans to chase in the 4th innings. VVS Laxman was the top-scorer for India in the second innings with 73 runs to his name.
The Indian pace bowlers again wreaked havoc among the South African top order. After Khan dismissed Herschelle Gibbs for a duck, Sreesanth took the prized wickets of Graeme Smith, Hashim Amla and Jacques Kallis to reduce South Africa to 84/4. Although Ashwell Prince played a patient innings of 97, India continued to chip away with wickets at the other end.
The South Africans were eventually dismissed for 278 runs, with Sreesanth, Khan and Kumble snaring three wickets apiece. Sreesanth was duly awarded the Man of the Match for his haul of 8 wickets in the match.
This 123-run victory was even more significant as it was the Indian cricket team's first-ever Test victory on South African soil.
#4 India vs Australia at Melbourne in 2018 - India won by 137 runs
India faced the Kangaroos in the 3rd Test of their tour to Australia, played at Melbourne from 26th to 30th December 2018, with the series tied at 1-1. Kohli, the Indian captain, won the toss and elected to bat.
India declared their 1st innings at a score of 443/7. Cheteshwar Pujara, who had a great tour down under, top-scored with a battling 106 runs. He was well supported by Kohli (82 runs), Mayank Agarwal (76 runs) and Rohit Sharma (63 runs) as India piled on a huge total on the board.
In reply, Australia were bowled out for a meagre 151 runs. Jasprit Bumrah ran through the Australian batting line-up, finishing with figures of 6/33. India thus gained a massive 292-run lead in the first innings.
Kohli opted not to enforce the follow-on, and instead went for quick runs to force the Aussies to bat last on a deteriorating pitch. But India suffered a top-order collapse with Pat Cummins being the destroyer-in-chief with his 6 wickets. Agarwal and Rishabh Pant were the only Indians to provide some resistance before Kohli declared with the Indian score at 106/8.
This left Australia to chase a 399-run target in the 4th innings to force an unlikely victory. Although most of the Australian batsmen got off to starts, none of them managed a big score. Cummins was the principal contributor with the bat as well, their only half-centurion with 63 runs to his credit.
The Aussies were finally dismissed for 261 runs. All the Indian bowlers played their part, but it was Bumrah again who finished with the best figures of 3/53. He was deservedly awarded the Man of the Match for his 9-wicket haul in the match.
India won the match by 137 runs to take a 2-1 lead in the series. This win was even more special as the Indian cricket team went on to win their first-ever Test series in Australia, with the final Test ending in a draw.
#3 India vs Australia at Perth in 2008 - India won by 72 runs
The Indians were up against the Aussies in the 3rd Test of their tour to Australia, played at Perth from 16th to 19th January 2008. The match was played in the backdrop of mounting tension between the two sides following the 'Monkeygate' scandal in the previous Test match in Sydney. Kumble, the Indian captain, won the toss and elected to bat first.
India managed to put a decent score of 330 runs on the board. The total was built on the back of a 139 run third-wicket partnership between Dravid (93 runs) and Sachin Tendulkar (71 runs). The young Irfan Pathan played a crucial knock of 28 runs to take India past the 300-run mark.
Australia were dismissed for 212 runs in their first innings, with Andrew Symonds and Adam Gilchrist scoring half-centuries. RP Singh was the highest wicket-taker for India with 4 wickets to his name. The other bowlers- Pathan, Kumble and Ishant Sharma- too chipped in with a couple of wickets each. The highlight of India's bowling was a terrific spell by Sharma, where he tormented the great Ricky Ponting before eventually dismissing him.
With a 118-run advantage from the 1st innings, India added another 294 runs in their 2nd innings. Laxman was the top-scorer with 79 runs to his credit. Pathan, who was promoted to No.3 in the batting order, played a useful knock of 46 runs.
Chasing a mammoth 413 for victory, Australia lost a couple of early wickets, but useful contributions from Michael Clarke (81), Michael Hussey (46) and Ponting (45) kept them in the hunt. The Indians kept chipping away with wickets at regular intervals to reduce Australia to 253/8. Although Mitchell Johnson and Stuart Clark delayed the inevitable with some lusty hits, it was too little too late.
The Australians eventually folded for 340 runs. All the Indian bowlers played their part, with Pathan finishing with the best figures of 3/54. The left-hander was declared the Man of the Match for his all-round performance- 74 runs with the bat complimenting the 5 wickets with the ball in hand.
Although India went on to lose the series 2-1, this 72-run victory was memorable for multiple reasons. The victory was achieved on the bouncy Perth pitch, considered the most alien conditions for any subcontinental team.
To top it all, it came on the back of the forgettable Sydney Test, where India seemed to have been hard done by, both by the umpiring decisions on the ground and the match referee's decision off the field.
#2 India vs England at Leeds in 2002 - India won by an innings and 46 runs
India played England in the 3rd Test of their tour to England, played at Leeds from 22nd to 26th August 2002. India went into the Test match trailing 1-0 in the 4 match series. Ganguly won the toss and to the surprise of many, elected to bat on a green pitch in overcast conditions.
After India lost Virender Sehwag early, Dravid and Sanjay Bangar kept the English attack at bay. The duo stitched together a 170-run partnership for the 2nd wicket, but the more telling factor was that they were at the crease for almost 70 overs. Although Bangar's contribution of 68 runs may not seem like much, the 236 deliveries he faced played a significant role in tiring the English bowlers.
Dravid went on to score a majestic 148 runs, putting on another 150 runs with Tendulkar for the 3rd wicket. With the England bowlers at their wits' end, Tendulkar (193) and Ganguly (128) went on the attack and smashed them all over the park. India eventually declared their innings at a massive score of 628/8.
Although England got off to a decent start in their first innings, the Indian bowlers chipped away with wickets at regular intervals. England were dismissed for 273 runs in their 1st innings. The spinners, Kumble and Harbhajan Singh, shared 6 wickets between them, while the pacers, Khan and Ajit Agarkar, took the other 4 wickets.
Ganguly enforced the follow-on with India enjoying a 355-run lead after the 1st innings. The English top-order put up a greater resistance in the 2nd innings, with their captain Nasser Hussain scoring a century. But India kept up the pressure to eventually dismiss England for 309 runs. Kumble was the wrecker-in-chief with 4 wickets to his name, while all the other bowlers chipped in with wickets as well.
Dravid was awarded the Man of the Match for his dogged innings. Although the series eventually ended in a 1-1 draw, this innings-and-46 run victory was a memorable one for India. The fact that this victory was achieved batting first in seamer-friendly conditions made it all the more noteworthy.
#1 India vs Australia at Adelaide in 2003 - India won by 4 wickets
India took on the Kangaroos in the 2nd Test of their tour to Australia, played at Adelaide from 12th to 16th December 2003. The two teams came to Adelaide after a stalemate in the first Test at Brisbane. Steve Waugh, the Australian captain, won the toss and elected to bat first.
The Aussies put a mammoth 556 runs on the board in their first innings. Ponting was the star of the show with a stroke-filled double ton (242 runs). Kumble was the highest wicket-taker for India, bagging 5 wickets at the cost of 154 runs.
Chasing a massive score, India were under severe pressure after having lost 4 wickets with just 85 runs on the board. Dravid and Laxman then almost did an encore of their monumental partnership in Kolkata a couple of years ago, with a 303-run alliance for the 5th wicket to bring India back into the match.
While Laxman contributed a sublime 148 runs, Dravid was the last man to be dismissed for an individual score of 233 runs. The duo had taken India to a score of 523 runs, trailing Australia by 33 runs after the first innings.
Agarkar then produced a career-best bowling effort of 6/41 to run through the Australian batting line-up. The wily Tendulkar also struck two critical blows, dismissing Waugh and Damien Martyn, both brilliantly caught by Dravid in the slips. Australia were dismissed for 196 runs, to leave India chasing a tricky 230 runs in the 4th innings.
The openers Sehwag and Aakash Chopra gave India a solid start, putting together 48 runs for the first wicket. After both of them were dismissed, Dravid and Tendulkar strung together a 70-run partnership to take India closer to victory. But the dismissals of Tendulkar and Ganguly brought Australia back into the match.
The Dravid-Laxman partnership then took India to the doorstep of victory, before the latter was dismissed with India needing another 9 runs for the win. Although India lost Parthiv Patel, Dravid, with his unbeaten knock of 72, ensured that India crossed the line without any further loss of wickets.
Dravid was undoubtedly the Man of the Match for his superb knocks in both the innings. This 4-wicket victory is surely one of the greatest wins in India's cricketing history. The fact that it came on foreign soil against a tough Australian side, that too after losing the toss and conceding more than 550 runs in the first innings, makes it all the more memorable.