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5 Indian cricketers who made their first impression in Australia

Davis James
ANALYST
27.84K   //    Timeless

Barinder Sran made his debut in the first ODI against Australia at the WACAFor India's limited-overs tour of Australia, the Indian selectors named quite a few names in the ODI squad – Barinder Sran, Manish Pandey, Gurkeerat Singh Mann, and Rishi Dhawan. It shows the intent of the Indian management to give opportunities to players who have been performing well in the domestic arena.However, it is not the first time that India has announced new faces for a tour of Australia. In the past, quite a few of the then Indian youngsters made their mark in international cricket.Sran impressed in the first ODI after picking up two early wickets as he dismissed both Australian openers. Whether the 23-year-old left-arm pace bowler can go on to make a lasting impression in international cricket remains to be seen.We take a look at five of such players who made their first impression Down Under, players who can be a source of inspiration for the aforementioned young Indian players.

#1 Irfan Pathan - 2004 VB Series

Irfan Pathan 2004 India Australia
Pathan (R) picked up 16 wickets in the 2004 VB Series

It has been more than three years since the last time that all-rounder Irfan Pathan played international cricket. A bad run of form and injuries hampered Pathan's chance to become the much-touted all-rounder India was looking for.

However, Pathan had his start to international cricket in Australia, when he made his debut in the second Test of the Border-Gavaskar Trophy at the Adelaide Oval in December 2003. Although he did not have a great start to his Test career, Pathan made quite an impression in the VB series that followed the Test series.

The VB Series was played between Australia, India and Zimbabwe during January-February 2004. Even though Australia beat India in the finals of the tournament, the 20-year-old Pathan made a good impression with the ball and put in a fairly decent performance with the ball.

In the ten matches that he played, Pathan picked up 16 wickets with one four-wicket haul against Zimbabwe that earned him the man-of-the-match award. With the bat, Pathan had an average of 21.25, which was a good performance for a player who batted at No. 8.

#2 Ishant Sharma - 2008 CB Series

Ishant Sharma India Australia 2008 CB Series
A 19-year-old Ishant Sharma bowling in the 2008 CB Series

Ishant Sharma made his debut as an 18-year-old against South Africa in June 2007 in Belfast, Northern Ireland. It was an uneventful one for the teenager as he failed to pick up any wicket.

In February 2008, Ishant was called up to the Indian squad to play in the 2008 CB Series in Australia. Playing against top teams like Australia and Sri Lanka would have seemed intimidating for any young bowler. But Ishant did not seem daunted by the opposition as he impressed with his bowling performance in the series.

19-year-old Ishant won the man-of-the-match award in only his third ODI innings as he picked up a matchwinning 4/38 against Australia as the hosts were bowled out for only 159 at the Melbourne Cricket Ground.

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In the nine innings that Ishant played in the tournament, he picked up 14 wickets which included another four-wicket haul against Sri Lanka at the Bellerive Oval. His bowling average during the innings was an impressive 23.14 and a very good ODI economy rate of 4.68.

#3 VVS Laxman - 1999/2000 Border-Gavaskar Trophy

VVS Laxman 2000 Sydney Test India Australia
Laxman drives during his maiden Test century against Australia in 2000

If there was any player that the Australians feared facing, it was the effortlessly brilliant batsman from Hyderabad –  VVS Laxman. Laxman was a constant tormentor of the mighty Australians, be it home or away.

However, Laxman did not have the best of starts to his career after making his debut in 1996 against South Africa. Before Laxman went with the squad for a tour of Australia in 1999/00, he had a poor batting average of 26.31 after 14 Test matches. He scored only five fifties and no centuries.

Although Australia won the there-match series 3-0, the series was crucial for Laxman as he established himself as a top quality batsman. It wasn't until the third and final Test that Laxman made his mark in Test cricket.

Playing as an opener, Laxman played a masterclass innings of 167 in the second innings at the Sydney Cricket Ground. He hit 27 fours and only took 198 balls to score his brilliant hundred in a match that other Indian batsmen failed miserably.

That hundred in Sydney set motion to Laxman's excellent Test career, becoming a part of the famous ‘Fab Five’. In the 117 Test matches Laxman played after that match at the SCG, Laxman scored 7981 runs at an average of 48.96.

#4 Virat Kohli - 2011/12 Border-Gavaskar Trophy

Virat Kohli India Australia 2012
Kohli exults after scoring his maiden Test century at the Adelaide Oval in 2012

After making his debut for India as a 19-year-old in the 50-over format, it took two years before Virat Kohli made his Test debut for the national side against West Indies in 2011.

He did not have the best of starts to the tour of Australia as he was bowled for a first-ball duck at the Melbourne Cricket Ground. Many questions were raised if the young and aggressive Kohli was ready for the longer format.

However, in the third Test at the WACA, Perth Kohli played well in both the innings as he scored 44 and 75. This showed that the 23-year-old could, after all, play in the longest format of the game. In the fourth Test at the Adelaide Oval, Kohli displayed his array of talents as he scored his maiden Test century – a patient 116 off 213 balls.

India lost the four-match series 4-0, but there was a silver lining to India's poor performance Down Under – the rise of a star in Virat Kohli. In 41 Test matches, Kohli has just under 3000 runs at an average of 44.02.

After the century in Adelaide, Kohli has gone on to score ten more Test centuries and was set on a journey that has made him the Indian Test captain.

#5 Sachin Tendulkar - 1991/92 tour of Australia

Sachin Tendulkar 1992 India Australia
Tendulkar's centuries in the 1991/92 tour of Australia uplifted his Test career

The last name in this list is the great Indian cricketing legend –  the Little Master – Sachin Tendulkar. A batsman who broke and set new records did not have a great start to his excellent Test career.

Although he scored his first Test hundred as a 17-year-old at Old Trafford in 1990, Tendulkar's career got a real uplift after his brilliant hundred in the third Test of the five-match series at the Sydney Cricket Ground in January 1992.

The 18-year-old's unbeaten 148 off 213 balls at the SCG was an exhibition of elegant cricketing shots as he grabbed the attention of followers of the game all over the world. Tendulkar's fourth-wicket partnership of 196 runs with Ravi Shastri was key to India earning a draw in the third Test. Tendulkar went on to score one more century in the series at WACA.

In 11 Test matches before the tour of Australia, Tendulkar scored only 588 runs and had an average below 40 with only one century to his name. In the 189 matches after the SCG ton, Tendulkar scored a mammoth 15333 Test runs at a phenomenal average of 54.56 and scored a record 50 Test centuries.

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Davis James
ANALYST
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