After Mohammed Siraj returned figures of 5/73 to bundle out Australia for 294, India (4/0) have three sessions to chase down 324 more runs and win the Border-Gavaskar Trophy for the second successive time.
India, however, have quite a daunting task at hand – not only of overhauling the target on a pitch which has started deteriorating, but also of defying the odds. The highest successful chase registered at the Gabba is 236, incidentally by the hosts against the West Indies in 1951. Even more alarmingly, India have just won 21 of the 142 Tests they have batted last in an away Test, while they have lost 61 and drawn 60 of them.
The first such heist was pulled off in 1968 when MAK Pataudi’s side defeated New Zealand in Wellington by eight wickets, courtesy Ajit Wadekar’s 143 in the first innings and Bapu Nadkarni’s 6/43 in the second essay.
Interestingly, three of those memorable victories came on Australian soil. In the famous 1977-78 tour Down Under, the spin trio of skipper Bishan Singh Bedi, Bhagwath Chandrasekhar and Erapalli Prasanna spun India to triumph by an innings and two runs against Bob Simpson’s side in Sydney.
The other two wins came in this century. Rahul Dravid became a part of Indian folklore by registering match-winning scores of 233 and 72* in the Adelaide Test in 2003 which India won by four wickets.
The third one came as recently as in the ongoing series when – in almost a miniaturised version of Dravid’s knocks – Ajinkya Rahane smashed 112 and 27* to lead India to a series-levelling eight-wicket win at the Boxing Day Test.
India’s biggest away wins after batting in the fourth innings came against New Zealand (2009), Bangladesh (2010) and Zimbabwe (2005) – all by margins of 10 wickets.
Scorecards of India’s Test victories while chasing in Australia
Fourth Test, Sydney | January 7-12, 1978: Australia 131 (Bob Simpson 38, Bhagwath Chandrasekhar 4/30) & 263 (Peter Toohey 85, Erapalli Prasanna 4/51) lost to India 396/8 dec (Gundappa Viswanath 79, Jeff Thomson 4/83) by an innings and 2 runs.
Second Test, Adelaide | December 12-16, 2003: Australia 556 (Ricky Ponting 242, Anil Kumble 5/154) & 196 (Adam Gilchrist 43, Ajit Agarkar 6/41) lost to India 523 (Rahul Dravid 233, Andy Bichel 4/118) & 233/6 (Rahul Dravid 72*, Simon Katich 2/22) by 4 wickets.
Second Test, Melbourne | Dec 26-30, 2020: Australia 195 (Marnus Labuschagne 48, Jasprit Bumrah 4/56) & 200 (Cameron Green 45, Mohammed Siraj 3/37) lost to India 326 (Ajinkya Rahane 112, Nathan Lyon 3/72) & 70/2 (Shubman Gill 35*, Pat Cummins 1/22) by 8 wickets.