India vs Australia - History of the Test rivalry between the two teams

India vs Australia – History of the Test rivalry between the two teams

Allan Border vs India
Allan Border. (Photo by Fairfax Media/Fairfax Media via Getty Images)

A very highly anticipated contest is back as Australia tours India for a 4-Test series. The first Test will begin on February 23rd in Pune, followed by the ones at Bangalore, Ranchi, and Dharamshala. It promises to be one heck of a series between the top 2 ranked sides in Test cricket.

The rivalry between the two nations as Border-Gavaskar Trophy has been one of the most fierce battles in the cricketing fraternity and probably the one that matches the intensity of the Ashes series between England and Australia. Over the years, these two sides have produced some of the most intriguing cricket of all time.

The dominating years of the Australians

The history of the clash between the two goes back to the years 1947-48 when India toured down under for a 5-Test series. It was a one-sided affair as the hosts emerged victorious by a margin of 4-0. India was an emerging nation at that time whereas Australia had already played over 60 years of Test cricket.

The initial encounters were heavily dominated by the Aussies as they won 6 out of the 7 series till 1978. Out of the 7, 4 series were played in India and 3 were hosted by Australia. India managed to win only 5 Tests out of the 24 played in that duration.

India won its first Test series against them in the season 1979-80 when they won both the Tests playing at home. The next 3 series’ were drawn and Australia won once again in 1991-92 by a 4-0 margin when they served as the hosts.

Also read- India v Australia Test series – Statistical Preview
Border-Gavaskar trophy arrived

It was decided from Australia’s tour to India in 1996 that whenever these two teams played each other, they will be contesting for the Border-Gavaskar trophy. It was named after the two legendary batsmen from each country, Sunil Gavaskar from India and Allan Border from Australia.

The contest then started to take place more consistently generally at the intervals of 4 years with each team hosting it alternately. The team that won the series would take the trophy home and if they managed to draw the next one, they would still retain it.

India started being more dominating than in the past and won the one-off Test in 1996 and won the next one as well by 2-1. Both were played in India.

Since 1996, the Border-Gavaskar trophy has been played 12 times with India winning 6 times and Australia clinching it 5 times. The series in 2003-04 played in Australia was drawn 1-1. Australia is the current holder of the trophy after they won the previous clash between the two at home 2-0 in 2014-15.

Some memorable encounters

One of the best Tests in the history of the game was played between these countries in Kolkata in 2001 when India won after being enforced to follow-on. Australia put on board a massive score of 445 batting first and then bundled India out for 171 runs gaining a lead of 274 runs.

They were made to bat again and the visitors had the upper hand until that point of time. But VVS Laxman and Rahul Dravid did something that turned out be a golden moment in Indian cricket history. They built together a partnership of 376 runs for the 5th wicket with Laxman scoring 281 and Dravid making 180.

India declared at a huge score of 657/7 asking Australia to chase 384 in the last innings. Then off-spinner Harbhajan Singh picked up 6 wickets to dismiss the Aussies for 212 runs giving his side a victory by 171 runs. It was only the second time in the history of the game that a side won after being asked to follow-on.

Some of the other iconic moments include the tied Test in Chennai in 1986, Sachin Tendulkar’s Test hundred in Perth in 1992 at the age of 18, India’s victories in Adelaide in 2003 and then in Perth in 2008, Steve Waugh’s last Test in 2004 in Sydney.

The emotional Test series of 2014-15

The last series of 2014-15 played in Australia between the two was a highly emotional one for the hosts as the Aussie batsman Phil Hughes had passed away just before the series after getting hit on the back of the neck by a bouncer in a domestic match. The build up to the Tests was very tough for the hosts as they struggled to get past the incident.

The series later saw the masterclass from two of the best batsmen in the world Steven Smith and Virat Kohli. Smith scored 769 runs in 4 Tests with 4 centuries where Kohli too smashed as many hundreds amassing 692 runs. It was a sheer treat for the fans watching the two modern greats matching each other stroke per stroke.

The series also witnessed MS Dhoni deciding to retire from the format after the third Test in Melbourne. It was the time when Kohli officially became the skipper of Indian Test side.

There are thousands of such memories that make the contest between the two ever so intense. They will keep producing such high-intensity cricket whenever they meet and the following series in India also promises to mark one such historic battle.