Australia remains the final frontier

Last Updated: Sat, Jan 28, 2012 04:59 hrs

India may not have done that well in Test series on foreign soil, but it has had its fair share of successes.

India first visited Sri Lanka in 1985 and won the Test series in its very next tour in 1993.

Pakistan was the worst country. We failed to win a single Test from 1955 till before our 2004 tour. But in that historic series, we won two Tests to take it 2-1.

We started touring South Africa in 1992 with disastrous consequences, failing to win even one Test match. But in 2006 we went down 1-2 and in 2010 it was 1-1. We will get a crack again at the Proteas next year.

Our happiest hunting grounds have been England and the West Indies (three series victories each) and New Zealand (two).

But if there is one country which could be called "So near and yet so far" then it has to be Australia, which is our "final frontier".

Australia crush India by 298 runs to sweep series

A look at the series where we could have won or at least tied the series…

1977-78, 2-3: In 1968, we won on New Zealand soil 3-1. In 1971, we won in West Indies and England. The 1970s was a time of great belief. Before the tour that began in 1977, Australia saw an exodus of its star players to Kerry Packer and fielded a second string team.

It was our best chance of beating Australia in Australia.

We still went down 0-2 and another whitewash was staring at us in the face. But the Indian team showed great character to make a comeback.

A fine all-round performance including 12 wickets by BS Chandrashekhar and a century by Sunil Gavaskar saw us win by 22 runs in the third Test at Melbourne.

We played even better in the fourth Test when we won by an innings and 2 runs. It should be noted that there were no centuries or 5-wicket hauls in any innings. It was truly a team performance.

However, we failed to shut it out in the fifth Test and couldn't win the series. Australia set us a highly improbable target of 493 runs at Adelaide. To give the Indians some credit, they managed to reach 445/10 and that too without any centuries!

1981, 1-1: We again lost our first match at Sydney, but managed to draw the second one at Adelaide despite Australia scoring an imposing 528 in the first innings. At the end of the match, we were just two wickets from defeat.

Thanks to that, the third and final Test was alive. Here too it all seemed lost when we conceded a whopping first innings lead of 192. The Australians had to chase just 143 runs for victory in the final innings.

To make matters worse, three of India’s bowlers, Kapil Dev, Dilip Doshi and Shivlal Yadav were injured. Kapil had strained a thigh muscle and said he almost spent the night on ice.

Despite that Doshi picked up two top order wickets and Kapil's astonishing 5-28 saw the Aussies collapse to 83 all out and the series was squared.

2003-04, 1-1: Sourav Ganguly's team was the closest to defeating the invincible Aussies led by Steve Waugh. We went into the final Test with the score being tied at 1-1. In the first innings, India blasted the Aussie attack to score a mammoth 705/7 on the back of Sachin Tendulkar's 241* and VVS Laxman’s 178.
Ganguly raised many an eyebrow when he refused to enforce the follow-on. India set Australia a target of 443. But there was not enough time and the Aussies ended up with a fine fighting 357/6 and India lost its most glorious opportunity to win down under.

Rohit Sharma could have made a difference to India's fortune

2007-08, 1-2: Even though we lost the series, this was one of our best fight backs. Trailing 0-2 after the unwanted monkeygate controversy, India came back strongly at Perth to win in the face of a fast pitch and a four-man pace attack.

At Adelaide, India made a strong 526 and must have looked to at least square the series, but the Aussies outdid us by scoring 563. After that Virender Sehwag hit an entertaining 151 in an otherwise dead match.

2011-12: Of course this has totally undone the good work done by the previous two tours. This was one of India's strongest batting line-ups and one of weakest Australian teams in recent times.

The result has been a comprehensive Aussie renaissance followed by total Indian collapse.

As of now England, South Africa and Australia are the best three teams in Test cricket.

India will have to begin from scratch to join that club again.

And for India, winning a Test series in Australia remains as elusive as ever...

The author is a Bengaluru-based journalist and blogger.

He blogs at

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