Indians have won only thrice down under

Gary Sobers acknowledges in his autobiography that a trip to Australia is essential for a cricketer to mature.

VIJAY LOKAPALLYVijay Lokapally

Gary Sobers acknowledges in his autobiography that a trip to Australia is essential for a cricketer to mature. The competition is stiff and it brings the best out of a player. If you succeed in Australia, it sort of completes your cricket education.' It was during one of the Tests that Sobers and Richie Benaud were locked in a fascinating duel.

Jim Higgs is out leg-before to Kapil Dev, the wrecker-in-chief, and India has won the Test in Melbourne, in the 1980-81 series. — Pic. THE HINDU PHOTO LIBRARY-

It was one of the gripping moments in Test cricket when Benaud surprised Sobers with a googly. The batsman had committed himself on the front foot and Benaud knew he had Sobers in a trap. The next moment the ball flashed past him as Sobers went through the stroke. According to many players on the field that day, it was a grand moment that signified cricket of the highest quality.

Australia has always offered exciting cricket, regardless of the team it takes on. From the days of Don Bradman to Steve Waugh, it has thrived on its inherent aggression to dominate the opposition and history documents some sensational shows in the Australian summer.

India may not have made a big impression with its cricket, winning just three Tests in Australia, but there have been occasions when the spectators have witnessed the oriental magic. In the wristy strokeplay of G. R. Viswanath, the solidity of Vijay Hazare, Sunil Gavaskar and Mohinder Amarnath, the poise of Sachin Tendulkar, to the spinning web of Erapalli Prasanna, Bhagwat Chandrahekhar, Bishan Singh Bedi.

India's first tour to Australia, under the captaincy of Lala Amarnath, happened in 1947-48 when the bowlers experienced the might of Bradman's willow as the master slammed four centuries. For India, which lost four of the five Tests, the best phase came at Adelaide when Vijay Hazare hit a century in each innings. Bradman wrote in his foreword for Hazare's A Long Innings that he was "one of the most graceful batsmen it was my pleasure to see.''

Jeff Thomson lets one fly at Sunil Gavaskar. The little master was simply irresistible during India's tour of Australia in 1977-78. — Pic. THE HINDU PHOTO LIBRARY-

It was 20 years before India, led by Mansur Ali Khan Pataudi, undertook its next trip without much improvement in its display, losing all the four Tests. The over-reliance on the spinners did not help India as Bob Cowper dominated the series with good contributions also from Bob Simpson, Ian Chappell, Bill Lawry and Doug Walters.

India's best chance to win a series in Australia came in 1977-78 when the home team lost key players to Kerry Packer. When Bob Simpson was compelled to come out of retirement, the desperation in the Australian ranks was clear but the home team won the series 3-2. Australia won the first two Tests and then India, thanks to some inspiring bowling by Bhagwat Chandrasekhar hit back to win the next two before losing the final encounter at Adelaide. It was a keenly contested series and saw some great stuff from the likes of Simpson, Sunil Gavaskar, Mohinder Amarnath and G. R. Viswanath.

The worst moment for India came at Perth when nightwatchman Tony Mann hit a century to snatch the match away from the visiting team.

Greg Chappell and Kim Hughes treated the Indian attack with disdain in 1980-81 though India shared the series 1-1, wining the third Test at Melbourne when Viswanath produced a great hundred on a difficult pitch and Kapil Dev took five wickets to bury Australia.

Chauhan drops Rixon off Chandrasekhar in the Perth Test. India lost this match in the 1977-78 series. But Chandrasekhar bowled the team to victory in Melbourne and Sydney. — Pic. THE HINDU PHOTO LIBRARY-

The next series, in 1985-86, saw the teams playing three draws at Adelaide, Melbourne and Sydney as batsmen on either side made merry. Sunil Gavaskar hit two centuries, as did David Boon. It was a most forgettable series.

Mohammed Azharuddin led India for a five-Test series but met with disaster as Australia comprehensively won four matches. The Indians had no clue when pitted against the Australian pace attack where Craig McDermott was a big success in the company of the huge Merv Hughes. For India, Ravi Shastri hit a double century at Sydney in a drawn match while the crowds loved teenager Sachin Tendulkar's two centuries at Sydney and Perth.

Tendulkar returned to Australia in 1999-00, this time as a captain but failed to alter the fate of his team which lost all the three Tests at Adelaide, Melbourne and Sydney, losing the final match inside three days. As Kapil dev, coach of the team, noted "the bowlers failed to strike a proper length and that put pressure right through.'' The batsmen also failed with the exception of Tendulkar, who hit a century at Melbourne, and V. V. S. Laxman, who produced a scintillating 167 at Sydney. The Indians left Australia with their reputation in tatters and now return under Sourav Ganguly to redeem some of it.

The scores: 1947-48:

Brisbane: Australia 382 for eight decl. (Bradman 185) beat India 58 (Toshack five for two) and 98 (Toshack six for 29) by an innings and 226 runs.

Sydney: India 188 (Phadkar 51) and 61 for seven drew with Australia 107 ( Hazare four for 29).

Melbourne: Australia 394 (Bradman 132, Amarnath four for 78, Mankad four for 135) and 255 for four decl. (Bradman 127 not out, Morris 100 not out) beat India 291 for nine decl. (Mankad 116, Johnson four for 59) and 125 (Johnson four for 35, Johnston four for 44) by 233 runs.

Adelaide: Australia 674 (Bradman 201, Hasset 198, Barnes 112) beat India 381 (Phadkar 116, Hazare 116) and 277 (Hazare 145) by an innings and 16 runs.

Melbourne: Australia 575 for eight decl. (Harvey 153, Brown 99) beat India 331 (Mankad 111) and 67 by an innings and 177 runs.

1967-68:

Adelaide: Australia 335 (Cowper 92, Abid Ali six for 55) and 369 (Cowper 108, Simpson 103, Surti five for 74) beat India 307 (Engineer 89, Connolly four for 54) and 251 (Subramanyam 75, Renneberg five for 39) by 146 runs.

Melbourne: India 173 (McKenzie seven for 66) and 352 (Wadekar 99, Pataudi 85) lost to Australia 529 (Ian Chappell 151, Simpson 109, Lawry 100, Prasanna six for 141) by an innings and four runs.

Brisbane: Australia 379 (Walters 93) and 294 (Redpath 79, Prasanna six for 104) beat India 279 (Jaisimha 74) and 355 (Jaisimha 101, Cowper four for 104) by 39 runs.

Sydney: Australia 317 (Walters 94 not out) and 292 (Cowper 165, Prasanna four for 96) beat India 268 (Abid Ali 78, Freeman four for 86) and 197 (Simpson five for 59, Cowper four for 49) by 144 runs.

1977-78:

Brisbane: Australia 166 (Bedi five for 55) and 327 (Simpson 89, Madan Lal five for 72) beat India 153 (Clark four for 46) and 324 (Gavaskar 113, Clark four for 101) by 16 runs.

Perth: India 402 (Mohinder Amarnath 90, Chauhan 88) and 330 for nine decl. (Gavaskar 127, Mohinder 100, Gannon four for 77) lost to Australia 394 (Simpson 176, Bedi five for 89) and 342 for eight (Mann 105, Bedi five for 105) by two wickets.

Melbourne: India 256 (Mohinder 72, Clark four for 73) and 343 (Gavaskar 118, Clark four for 96) beat Australia 213 (Serjeant 85, Chandrasekhar six for 52) and 164 (Chandrasekhar six for 52) by 222 runs.

Sydney: Australia 131 (Chandrasekhar four for 30) and 263 (Toohey 85, Prasanna four for 51) lost to India 396 for eight decl. (Viswanath 79, Thomson four for 83) by an innings and two runs.

Adelaide: Australia 505 (Yallop 121, Simpson 100, Chandrashekhar five for 136) and 256 (Ghavri four for 45, Bedi four for 53) beat India 269 (Viswanath 89, Clark four for 62) and 445 (Mohinder 86, Vengsarkar 78, Viswanath 73, Yardley four for 134).

1980-81:

Sydney: India 201 (Lillee four for 86, Pascoe four for 61) and 201 (Higgs four for 45) lost to Australia 406 (Greg Chappell 204, Kapil five for 97, Ghavri five for 107) by an innings and four runs.

Adelaide: Australia 528 (Hughes 213, Wood 125, Yadav four for 143) and 221 for seven decl. drew with India 419 (Patil 174, Chauhan 97, Lillee four for 80) and 135 for eight.

Melbourne: India 237 (Viswanath 114, Lillee four for 65) and 324 (Chauhan 85, Gavaskar 70, Lillee four for 104) beat Australia 419 (Border 124, Walters 78, Greg Chappell 76) and 83 (Kapil five for 28).

1985-86:

Adelaide: Australia 381 (Boon 123, Ritchie 128, Kapil eight for 106) and 17 for no loss drew with India 520 (Gavaskar 166, Reid four for 113).

Melbourne: Australia 262 (Mathews 100 not out, Shastri four for 87) and 308 (Border 163) drew with India 445 (Srikkanth 86, Vengsarkar 75, Reid four for 100) and 59 for two.

Sydney: India 600 for four decl. (Gavaskar 172, Mohinder 138, Srikkanth 116) drew with Australia 396 (Boon 131, Marsh 92, Yadav five for 99, Shastri four for 101) and 119 for six.

1991-92:

Brisbane: India 239 (McDermott five for 54) and 156 (McDermott five for 47, Hughes four for 50) lost to Australia 340 (Taylor 94, Kapil four for 80) and 58 for no loss by 10 wickets.

Melbourne: India 263 (Reid six for 66) and 213 (Reid six for 60) lost to Australia 349 (Marsh 86, Kapil five for 97) and 128 for two by eight wickets.

Sydney: Australia 313 (Boon 129) and 173 (Shastri four for 45) drew with India 483 (Shastri 206, Tendulkar 148 not out, McDermott four for 147).

Adelaide: Australia 145 and 451 (Boon 135, Taylor 100, Border 91 not out, Kapil five for 130) beat India 225 (McDermott five for 76) and 333 (Azharuddin 106, McDermott five for 92) by 38 runs.

Perth: Australia 346 (Boon 107, Prabhakar five for 101) and 367 for six decl. (Jones 150, Moody 101) beat India 272 (Tendulkar 114, Hughes four for 82, Whitney four for 68) and 141 (Whitney seven for 27) by 300 runs.

1999-00:

Adelaide: Australia 441 (Steve Waugh 150, Ponting 125) and 239 for eight decl. (Blewett 88) beat India 285 (Warne four for 92) and 110 (Fleming five for 30) by 285 runs.

Melbourne: Australia 405 (Slater 91, Srinath four for 130) and 208 for five beat India 238 (Tendulkar 116, Lee five for 55) and 195 by 180 runs.

Sydney: India 150 (McGrath five for 48) and 261 (Laxman 167, McGrath five for 55) lost to Australia 552 for five decl. (Langer 223, Ponting 141 not out) by an innings and 41 runs.