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India’s 25 greatest wins in test cricket

Cricket batsman hitting a ball shot from below against a blue sky


India’s national cricket team did not play its first Test match until 25 June 1932 at Lord’s, becoming the sixth team to be granted test cricket status. C K Nayudu was Indian team captain.  India lost that match against England by 158 runs. While CK Nayudu’s side won the respect of the spectators with their skills against an impressive English side –  these were the Bodyline guys, including Douglas Jardine.

C K Nayudu

In 1923, the ruler of Holkar invited Cottari Kanakaiya Nayudu to Indore and made him a captain in his army, conferring on him the honor of a Colonel in Holkar’s Army. Arthur Gilligan led the first MCC tour to India in the 1926–27 season. For the Hindus at Bombay Gymkhana, Nayudu hit 153 in 116 minutes with 11 sixes. The MCC presented him with a silver bat in recognition of that innings.

The BCCI was formed in the subsequent year 1928. Ranji Trophy began in the year 1934-35 and still continues today. The Indian cricket team continued to improve throughout the 1930’s and 40’s. In the early 1940’s, India didn’t play any Test cricket due to the Second World War. The team’s first series as an independent country was in late 1947 against Sir Donald Bradman’s Invincibles. India produced some excellent players Lala Amarnath, Polly Umrigar, Vijay Merchant, to name a few.

Lala Amarnath

Poly Umrigar

Vijay Merchant

India recorded their first Test victory, in their 24th match, against England at Madras (Chennai) in 1952. Indian cricket has come a long way from those early days. The diffidence of the olden days has been replaced by a combativeness that is refreshing. There are many factors to be considered before terming a triumph as truly great or significant. The opposition is one. The more formidable the opposition, the more outstanding is the victory. Alien wicket and weather conditions are another and that is why away wins are more significant. Then comes the way the victory is achieved. Here’s my pick of India’s 25 great test wins. ( in chronological order)

#1 India vs England, 5th Test at Chennai, Feb 1952 (Captain: Vijay Hazare) (Series result: 1-1.)

Vijay Hazare
Vinu Mankad

Pankaj Roy

A sentimental pick, being India’s maiden victory in Test cricket after 20 years of trying. Vinoo Mankad with batsmen Pankaj Roy and Polly Umirgar were the heroes for India. Vinoo Mankad with his Left-arm spin took 8 for 55 in England’s first innings (according to Wisden his performance with the ball was, “seldom been bettered in Test cricket when it is considered that the pitch gave him little assistance“). India took a first-innings lead of 191 courtesy centuries from Pankaj Roy and Polly Umrigar. They did not have to bat again, as Mankad and Ghulam Ahmed bowled India to a win by an innings and 8 runs, and gave England a taste of the trials by spin.

MATCH SUMMARY: (MA Chidambaram Stadium)
England 266 (121.5 OVERS) (First Innings)
Jack Robertson 77, Dick Spooner 66 | Vinu Mankad 8/55 (38.5)
India 497/9d (153 OVERS)) (First Innings)
Pankaj Roy 111, Poly Umrigar 130
England 183 (75.5 OVERS) (Second Innings)
Jack Robertson 56, Allan Watkins 48 | Vinu Mankad 4/53 (30.5), Ghulam Ahmed 4/77 (26)

#2 India vs Australia, 2nd Test at Kanpur, Dec 1959 (Captain: G S Ramchand) (Series result: Australia won the 5 match series 2-1)

G S Ramchand
Jasubhai Patel
‘Nari’ Contractor

India had never got the better of Australia in nine attempts since 1947-48, the odds were clearly stacked against them coming into this Test. Gulabrai Ramchand had taken over the reins of the Indian captaincy for this series. Ramchand’s opposite number was Richie Benaud, who remained the biggest threat to the Indian camp. A little-known 35-year-old off-spinner from Ahmedabad, Jasubhai Patel received a surprise call-up for the Kanpur Test.

Openers Pankaj Roy and Nariman ‘Nari’ Contractor sedately added 38 runs after India won a crucial toss. However, Benaud the leg-spinner got into the act along with Alan Davidson, the impactful left-arm paceman.  India could muster only 152 on the board, and the fact that no batsman crossed 25 underlined the control that Australia’s bowlers maintained throughout the innings.

Australian openers Colin McDonald and Gavin Stevens produced a stand of 71. Though Patel removed the latter, the dependable Neil Harvey joined McDonald, the duo steered their team to a strong position of 128/1 at lunch. McDonald (53) and Harvey (51) were both clean bowled, and this was just the beginning. At the other end, Chandu Borde sent back Norman O’Neill – the only wicket in the innings that did not fall to Patel. Restricting Australia to a lead of 67 runs.

Patel’s analysis read an astonishing 35.5-16-69-9. He single-handedly destroyed the Australian line-up – only one of his nine wickets was assisted by a fielder’s catch. ( These were the new best innings figures by an Indian, bettering Subash Gupte’s 9/102 against the West Indies at the same ground a year ago. The record stood until 1998-99, when Anil Kumble collected his famous 10/74.)

The onus to perform now lay on the batsmen if India hoped to nudge ahead in the Test. It was Contractor who rose to the challenge, compiling a fine 74 – his best Test innings according to him – to give India a positive start. When Contractor was caught by Harvey off Davidson, Australia appeared to have the upper hand at 153/5, before the Mumbai pair of Borde (44) and Ramnath Kenny (51) put on 61 for the sixth wicket. The tide was slowly shifting towards the hosts. An even more crucial partnership followed for the seventh wicket, for which Kenny and Bapu Nadkarni (46) shared 72 runs. India were bowled out for 291, The last four wickets however fell for just five runs. Davidson bowled his heart out to return 7/93, giving himself 12/124 for the match – both career-best figures.

Australia’s target of 225 was always going to be a difficult proposition on the wearing, final-day pitch. Umrigar (4/27) and Patel (5/55) made sure India had the last say, in the second innings as Australia were all out for 105. India had astoundingly turned the tables to record a historic win by 119 runs – India’s first ever against Australia.

MATCH SUMMARY: (Green Park Staduim)
India 152 (70.1 OVERS) (First Innings)
Bapu Nadkarni 25, G S Ramchand 24 | Alan Davidson 5/31 (20.1), Richie Benaud 4/63 (25)
Australia 219 (77.5 OVERS)) (First Innings)
Neil Harvey 51, Colin McDonald 53 | Jasubhai Patel 9/69 (35.5)
India 291 (144.3 OVERS) (Second Innings)
Nari Contractor 74, Ramnath Kenny 51 | Alan Davidson 7/93 (57.3)
Australia 105(57.4 OVERS) (Second Innings)
Colin McDonald 34, Neil Harvey 25| Jasubhai Patel 5/55 (25.4), Polly Umrigar 4/27 (25)

#3 New Zealand vs India, 1st Test at Dunedin, Feb 1968 (Captain: M A K Pataudi) (Series result: India won the 4 match series 3-1.)

Ajit Wadekar
Mansoor Ali Khan Pataudi
Erapalli Prasanna

One of the landmark tours in India’s cricketing history, as it was India’s first away series win (15 years since their first series win). India, being led by the talisman Mansoor Ali Khan Pataudi were a team packed with versatile all-rounders and led by an imaginative and ambitious captain. The first Test of the series was in Dunedin’s Carisbrook, the southern-most test venue, a place cricketers consider to be the coldest.

After winning the toss, captain Barry Sinclair decided to bat. A brilliant 143 from Graham Dowling assisted by fifties from Bevan Congdon and Mark Burgess took New Zealand to 350 runs. Amongst the Indian bowlers, Syed Abid Ali was the pick of them with 4/26. In reply, MAK Pataudi-led India scored 359 thanks to half-centuries from Ajit Wadekar and Farookh Engineer. And a tenth-wicket partnership of 57 between Bishan Bedi and Ramakant Desai. Dick Motz was the pick of the Kiwi bowlers, picking up 5 wickets for 86.

In what turned into a second-innings shootout on a soft, wearing pitch, India’s spinners came into their own, Erapalli Prasanna leading the way with 6 for 94 in 40 overs. India needed 200 to win, On the penultimate day of the Test they did not have a very good start as they were 49/2 at a time. However, Ajit Wadekar and Rusi Surti spearheaded a tricky chase with a 103-run stand that turned the match back into India’s favor. Chandu Borde and M L Jaisimha took them home just after lunch on the final day. Indian cricket team had won their first-ever overseas Test match.

India won the first Test at Dunedin by five wickets, lost the second by six wickets and won the last two Tests by eight wickets and 272 runs respectively to emerge victorious. Ajit Wadekar was the best batsman with 328 runs while Erappalli Prasanna was the highest wicket-taker for India with 24 scalps. The spin trio of Erapalli Prasanna, Bishan Singh Bedi and Bapu Nadkarni were at the forefront of this historic victory.

MATCH SUMMARY: (Carisbrook)
New Zealand 350 (157.3 OVERS) (First Innings)
Graham Dowling 143, Bevan Congdon 58 | Syed Abid Ali 4/26 (15)
India 359 (124 OVERS)) (First Innings)
Ajit Wadekar 80, Farokh Engineer 63 | Dick Motz 5/86 (34)
New Zealand 208 (104 OVERS) (Second Innings)
Bruce Murray 54, Mark Burgess 39| Erapalli Prasanna 6/94 (40)
India 200/5 (74.4 OVERS) (Second Innings)
Ajit Wadekar 71, Rusi Surti 44| Jack Alabaster 3/48 (22)

#4 West Indies vs India, 2nd Test at Port of Spain, Mar 1971 (Captain: Ajit Wadekar) (Series result: India won the 5 match series 1-0.)

Dilip Sardesai
Sunil Gavaskar
Srinivas Venkatraghavan

Three years after India’s first away series win, Ajit Wadekar-led India beat West Indies 1-0 in a five-match series. The second Test at Port of Spain was won by India with the other four ending in a stalemate. There was little expectation from the India side that travelled to the Caribbean in 1971, until Dilip Sardesai made a double century in the first Test at Kingston. At 31, many believed his career was dead, that he was lucky to have even been picked, only for him to play the innings of his life. Sardesai was called the Renaissance Man. Along the way, Indian cricket gained a new batting mainstay, Sunil Gavaskar. He made his debut in the second Test, in Port-of-Spain.

The second test started with Sobers winning the toss and deciding to bat first.  Barring Charlie Davis (who scored 71), none of the other Windies batsmen were able to stay at the crease for long thanks to the spin duo of Erapalli Prasanna and Bishan Singh Bedi who took 4/54 and 3/46 respectively as the hosts were bowled out for 214.

In reply, India scored 352 with Dilip Sardesai carrying his good form from Kingston, scoring 112, with debutant Sunil Gavaskar and Eknath Solkar scoring 65 and 55 respectively. Amongst the Windies bowlers, Jack Noreiga bowled one of the greatest spells in Test cricket history, picking up 9 wickets for 95 which is yet to be bettered by any other Windies bowler.

In the second innings, India gained a lead of 138. West Indies were off to a good start with Fredericks and Rohan Kanhai adding 73 before the latter was dismissed by Bedi. While Salim Durani chipped in with the crucial wickets of Garfield Sobers and Clive Lloyd. S Venkataraghavan (Venkat) worked his way through West Indies’ line-up in the second innings to pick up 5 for 95. India’s target was 124 — eminently gettable, especially with Gavaskar at the helm. Sunil Gavaskar steered India to a historic victory, scoring 67 and ending his debut Test in style. The batting talisman scored four centuries and a double century in the series and emerged as the highest run-getter with 774 runs, still a record for a debutant. The spin troika of Srinivas Venkatraghavan, Bishen Singh Bedi and Erapalli Prasanna stood out with 22, 15 and 11 wickets respectively from the series

MATCH SUMMARY: (Queen’s Park Oval)
West Indies 214 (72.5 OVERS) (First Innings)
Charlie Davis* 71, Rohan Kanhai 37 | E Prasanna 4/54 (19.5), Bishan Bedi 3/46 (16)
India 352 (124 OVERS)) (First Innings)
Sunil Gavaskar 65, Dilip Sardesai 112 | Jack Noreiga 9/95 (49.4)
West Indies 261 (110.5 OVERS) (Second Innings)
Charlie Davis* 74, Roy Fredericks 80 | Srinivas Venkataraghavan 5/95 (36)
India 125/3 (49.4 OVERS) (Second Innings)
Sunil Gavaskar 67

#5 England vs India, 3rd Test at London, Aug 1971 (Captain: Ajit Wadekar) (Series result:India won the 3 match series 1-0.)

Eknath Solkar
B S Chandrasekhar

Farokh Engineer

Just months before, they had won in the West Indies and now they wanted to pulled off the same feat in England. England, who had just won the Ashes 2-0 in Australia, took a 71-run first-innings lead at the Oval. They were unofficially the world’s best team at that point, but India had in their ranks the unorthodox skills of Bhagwath Chandrasekhar. India’s last two series against England in 1959 and 1967 had both ended in whitewashes but this time, India were more confident.

Thanks to scores of 90, 82, and 81 from Allan Knott, John Jameson, and Richard Hutton, England scored 355 in their first innings. In reply, India lost Gavaskar early who was bowled by John Snow. Fifties from Farookh Engineer and Dilip Sardesai assisted by captain Ajit Wadekar’s 48 and Eknath Solkar’s 44 could take India to only 284, thanks to Wadekar’s opposite number Ray Illingworth’s spell of 5/70.

Brought on early during the second innings, Chandra’s whirring legbreaks and googlies had England three down for 24. With the steady S Venkataraghavan keeping the pressure on at the other end, and a predatory Eknath Solkar with the close-in cordon surrounding them, England had nowhere to hide. Chandra ripped through with figures of 6 for 38. England were all out for 101, giving India a target of 173 to win. India lost Gavaskar and Mankad early but Wadekar and Sardesai brought back stability to the Indian innings by scoring 45 and 40 respectively. Gundappa Viswanath and Farookh Engineer added 33 and 28 respectively to steer India to victory by 4 wickets

Wadekar was the highest run-getter in the series with 204 runs and Srinivas Venkatraghavan sizzled with the ball with 13 wickets.India’s spinners (Bhagwath Chandrasekhar, Bishan Bedi, Srinivas Venkataraghavan) accounted for 37 wickets.

MATCH SUMMARY: (Kennington Oval)
ENGLAND 355 (108.4 OVERS) (First Innings)
John Jameson 82, Alan Knott 90| Eknath Solkar 3/28 (15)
INDIA 284 (117.3 OVERS) (First Innings)
Farokh Engineer 59, Dilip Sardesai 54| Ray Illingworth 5/70 (34.3)
ENGLAND 101 (45.1 OVERS) (Second Innings)
Brian Luckhurst 33 (111) | Bhagwath Chandrasekhar 6/38 (18.1)
INDIA 174/6 (101 OVERS) (Second Innings)
Dilip Sardesai 40, Ajit Wadekar 45 | Derek Underwood 3/72 (38)

#6 Australia vs India, 3rd Test at Melbourne, Dec 1977 (Captain: Bishan Singh Bedi) (Series result: Australia won the 5 match series 3-2.)

Mohinder Amarnath

Bishan Singh Bedi
Gundappa Viswanath

This match would not go down as a classic, but it marked the first time India won a Test in Australia. This victory was extra special because of the way Indian rebounded from two close and deflating defeats. In the first test at Brisbane, Bobby Simpson set India a daunting task of getting 341 for victory and India just faltered in achieving the target by 16 runs. In the second test at Perth, Australia won on the fifth day by chasing a target of 342 set by the Indians. At this point, the Indian think tank had to sit down and look at methods to combat this Australian team which they were up against led by the old war horse Bobby Simpson.

After the first two test victories the Australians were smelling a series win. It had all the ingredients to be an absorbing test match. India won the toss and elected to bat first on a good wicket. India started off badly with both openers back in the hut scoring ducks and the pressure was right back on the middle order for India. Mohinder Amarnath led the tourists’ efforts, scoring 72, while Gundappa Viswanath chipped in with 59 as India posted what would ordinarily have been an average score of 256.

Australians had the Indians on the mat and the only way India could be on the top was to bowl them out and give themselves a chance to get back in the game. Thankfully the Indian spinners did just that and Chandra ripped through the Australian line up by claiming 6 wickets and keeping them down to 213 all out. India had a slender lead of 43 runs.

In the second innings India managed to score 343 and set Australia a target of 387, thanks to a cool hundred by Gavaskar and useful contributions from Chauhan, Kirmani, Vishwanath, Mankad and Amarnath.

Australia started of steadily, but once the opening pair was separated Chandra ripped through the Australian batting line up for a second time and had identical figures of 6 for 52 in the second innings as well to bundle out Australia for 164 to give India a well-deserved victory by 222 runs.

MATCH SUMMARY: (Melbourne Cricket Ground)
INDIA 256 (69.2 OVERS) (First Innings)
Mohinder Amarnath 72, Viswanath 59 | Wayne Clark 4/73 (19.2), Jeff Thomson 3/78 (16)
AUSTRALIA 213 (50.1 OVERS) (First Innings)
Gary Cosier 67, Craig Serjeant 8| B Chandrasekhar 6/52 (14.1)
INDIA 343(88.7 OVERS) (Second Innings)
Sunil Gavaskar 118, Gundappa Viswanath 53 | Wayne Clark4/96 (29)
AUSTRALIA 164 (51.1 OVERS) (Second Innings)
Wayne Clark 33, Gary Cosier 34 | Bishan Bedi 4/58 (16.1), B Chandrasekhar 6/52 (20)

#7 Australia vs India, 3rd Test at Melbourne, Feb 1981 (Captain: Sunil Gavaskar) (Series result: 1-1)

Sunil Gavaskar
Kapil Dev
Gundappa Vishwanath

This was India’s third Test match win on Australian soil, and it came amidst dramatic circumstances. The first Test was played at Sydney and India lost the Test by an innings and 4 runs. The second Test was at Adelaide and that ended in a draw. India needed to win the third Test at Melbourne to square the series.

India went in with an unchanged side at Melbourne. On the day of the match, the extra grass on the pitch, prompted Greg Chappell to let the opposition bat first, on winning the toss. Australia elected to field and the Indian openers, Sunil Gavaskar and Chetan Chauhan walked out to face the fearsome pace of Dennis Lillee and Len Pascoe.

Lillee and Pascoe breathed fire and soon had the Indians in dire straits at 115/6. They were rescued by Gundappa Vishwanath, who played in typically entertaining fashioning to score 114. Syed Kirmani chipped in with 25. India bowled out for 237.

Australia went on to take a 182-run lead, Greg Chappell made 76 before he was caught and bowled by Karsan Ghari. Alan Border batted till the third morning scoring 124.  India had their backs to the wall.

Gavaskar and Chauhan batted with aplomb and set out to erase the deficit as India needed to not only avoid an innings deficit but also get enough of a lead to defend in the 4th innings. At the end of the 3rd day’s play, India were 108 for no loss.

With the score on 165, Gavaskar inside-edged Dennis Lillee on to his pad and was adjudged LBW to Lillee, soon Chauhan lost his fluency and was caught by Bruce Yardley off the bowling of Lillee. India were 176/2.  Dilip Vengsarkar and Gundappa Viswanath repaired the damage and put India back on course. Sandeep Patil played a quick cameo scoring 36 off just 26 balls but the lower order fell without troubling the scorers as India capitulated to 324 all out. Australia had to score 143 to win. With three front-line bowlers injured, and in store, endless suffering in one of the most unforgiving settings in Test cricket with Australia on top at MCG.

Australia started their pursuit late on Day Four. The score wasn’t big, and one would have expected Australia to sail through.  India started their defense without Kapil Dev, the talismanic spearhead of the attack. “Kapil Dev wasn’t there to bowl as there was a strain in his hamstring. But by the end of Day Four, Australia were 24 for three with Greg Chappell back in the hut.

On final day, the injured Kapil Dev came back to bowl unchanged for 16.4 overs, straight and into the pitch, taking 5/28 and it was a lion-hearted effort from him. Only 3 Australian batsmen reached double figures as the middle order and the tail did not offer much resistance and crumbled like a pack of cards. Australia were bowled out for 83. India won by 59 runs.

MATCH SUMMARY: (Melbourne Cricket Ground)
INDIA 237 (84 OVERS) (First Innings)
Gundappa Viswanath 114 | Dennis Lillee 4/65 (25) Len Pascoe 3/29 (22)
AUSTRALIA 419 (156.3 OVERS) (First Innings)
Allan Border 124 | Dilip Doshi 3/109 (52)
INDIA 324 (109.1 OVERS) (Second Innings)
Chetan Chauhan 85, Sunil Gavaskar 70| Dennis Lillee 4/104 (32.1)
AUSTRALIA 83 (48.4 OVERS) (Second Innings)
Doug Walters*18 | Kapil Dev 5/28 (16.4)
Player of the match – Gundappa Viswanath

#8 England vs India, 2nd Test at Leeds, June 1986 (Captain: Kapil Dev) (Series result: India won the 3 match series 2-0)

Dilip Vengsarkar with the trophy

India travelled to England in 1986 as favorites, under the leadership of Kapil Dev. The Indian team had established themselves as one of the leading limited overs sides in the world. The task in hand for Kapil Dev’s men was to maintain their supremacy in the longer format. David Gower’s team had an unsettled air about it as the series began with his captaincy facing questions.

The first Test was played at Lord’s and England were grounded to the dust by a stunning five-wicket defeat to India. Dilip Vengsarkar continued his love affair with Lord’s as he stroked his way to an unbeaten 126. At his best, Vengsarkar combined majesty and serenity, attack and defence, marvelously. Kapil Dev put up a show of classic swing bowling to wreck the English top order. The Indian skipper ended with figures of 4/52.

But it was the win in the second Test at Headingley that was special, because India beat England on a seaming wicket on which earlier generations of Indian batting line-ups had collapsed in a sorry heap. David Gower was down with a shoulder injury. Mike Gatting was summoned to skipper the side.

At Leeds, India batted first after winning the toss on a green top, in conditions tailor-made for the home team’s seam bowlers. Indian openers, Sunny and Srikkanth, posted a good opening partnership of 64 runs seeing off the threat of new ball bowlers. Derek Pringle claimed the wickets of both openers in quick succession. Shastri batted one down in absence of Amarnath along with inform Vengsarkar to avoid a collapse with a 53 runs partnership. Pringle and Dilley managed to get frequent breakthroughs. Dilip Vengsarkar was among the runs once again as he compiled a sold half-century. India could barely manage 272.

Kapil claimed the wicket of Graham Gooch leaving England struggling at 14/3. But it was Roger Binny who rocked England’s middle-order with an inspired spell of 5/40. England batting unit was brutally destroyed at 102 all out giving India a healthy lead of 170 runs which was a lot in the conditions.

England’s seamers Graham Dilley and Co. cut short India’s celebrations and reduced them to 35/4. But they had yet to net the big fish, Vengsarkar. The “colonel” was in that kind of nick when no stride of his would return without yields. England pacers had reduced India upfront to 70/5. India’s riposte with the bat was led by the man who would come to be known as the “Lord of Lord’s”, Dilip Vengsarkar who was in best phase of his batting career was batting better than most of the renowned great batsman of the era. His gallant 102, in trying conditions, changed the soundtrack of Indian cricket.   The next best score in the second innings was a typically brisk 31 by Kapil Dev. India posted 237, a target of 408.

Now it was Maninder Singh’s turn to unleash his bag of tricks in the second innings. His four-wicket haul helped India win the Test by 279 runs and round off a convincing 2-0 series win. Never have India dominated a Test series in England as they did in 1986. They came close to winning all three Tests, but the third Test was eventually drawn.

MATCH SUMMARY: (Headingley)
INDIA 272 (104.2 OVERS) (First Innings)
Dilip Vengsarkar 61 | Graham Dilley 3/54 (24.2), Derek Pringle 3/47 (27)
ENGLAND 102 (45.1 OVERS) (First Innings)
Bill Athey 32 | Roger Binny 5/40 (13)
INDIA 237 (76.3 OVERS) (Second Innings)
Dilip Vengsarkar* 102, Kapil Dev 31 | John Lever 4/64 (23), Pringle 4/73 (22.3)
ENGLAND 128 (63.3 OVERS) (Second Innings)
Mike Gatting* 31 | Maninder Singh 4/26 (16.3)
Player of the match – Dilip Vengsarkar

#9 India vs South Africa, 1st Test at Ahmedabad, Nov 1996 (Captain: Sachin Tendulkar) (Series result: India won the 3 match series 2-1)

Javagal Srinath

South Africa had made their ascent to one of the top spots in the world cricket. They had emerged as one of the leading fast bowling units in the world. The team was in the capable hands of Hansie Cronje, who formed a crucial cog of the batting line-up that consisted of the likes of Gary Kirsten, Andrew Hudson, Daryll Cullinan, and Jonty Rhodes. Though they had to leave Shaun Pollock, behind they were still equipped with the pack of Allan Donald, Fanie de Villiers, Brian McMillan, and a youngster called Lance Klusener.

On the dusty pitch at Motera — they decided to go in with two spinners in the form of Paul Adams and Pat Symcox. India decided to open with Nayan Mongia and play five bowlers, which meant that Sunil Joshi was scheduled to bat at 7. Sourav Ganguly, who had an excellent start to his Test career earlier that year, had to be left out because of a leg injury. He was replaced by a young Hyderabadi called VVS Laxman.

Sachin Tendulkar won a crucial toss, the decision was a no-brainer. Mongia walked out with Sanjay Manjrekar. And after half an hour of cricket, Mongia was trapped leg-before by de Villiers. Rahul Dravid walked out. He had not batted above 5 till now in his career. Manjrekar fell just before lunch. Tendulkar walked out and took control of things after lunch. India lost Dravid, who was leg-before off Symcox, but Sachin dominated proceedings in company of Mohammad Azharuddin. Donald had bowled brilliantly throughout the day. India were bowled out for 223. Donald finished with 4 for 37.

By the third day morning South Africa had taken a crucial 21-run lead in the first innings. It took a burst from Srinath to finish off the tail. Joshi finished with 4 for 43 while Srinath, Kumble, and Hirwani picked up 2 wickets each.

Warmed up after the South African innings Donald bowled with hostile pace, removing both openers before India had managed to eradicate the lead. Tendulkar sliced a well-disguised slower delivery from McMillan to Rhodes at point, leaving the hosts in tatters at 38 for 3.

Dravid and Azhar then had a partnership of sorts, adding 44 for the fourth wicket before McMillan stretched full-length to his right to come up with a brilliant catch to dismiss Azharuddin off Donald. At the other end Dravid’s resistance came to an end when he was trapped in front by Symcox. India were only 70 runs ahead at this stage.

Laxman found an ally of sorts in Joshi, who hung around for close to an hour before edging one off Symcox. It was the sort of innings that had typified Laxman’s career over the years, coming to rescue when with the side in trouble. India finished the day on 172 for 7 with Laxman on 50 and Kumble on 22.

Laxman fell early on Day four. Kumble remained unbeaten on 30. India had added only 18 runs on the fourth morning. They were bowled out for 190, leaving the tourists only 170 to pull off their first Test victory on Indian soil. They had all the time in their hand.

India needed early wickets from somewhere, and it was Srinath who provided them with the first breakthrough. The fifth ball of the first over swung back and rapped Hudson on the pads. Motera erupted as Cullinan edged the next ball to Mongia. Srinath produced one of the best spells of fast bowling by an Indian pacer to scythe through the visitors’ batting. He later returned to add Dave Richardson, Jonty Rhodes, Allan Donald and Paul Adams to seize 6/21 in 11.5 overs, as South Africa stunningly collapsed from 96 for 4 to 105 all out in 38.5 overs. India won the first Test of the three-match series by 64 runs.

MATCH SUMMARY: (Sardar Patel Stadium)
INDIA 223 (99 OVERS) (First Innings)
Mohammad Azharuddin 35 , Sachin Tendulkar 42 | Allan Donald 4/37 (27)
SOUTH AFRICA 244 (98.1 OVERS) (First Innings)
Daryll Cullinan 43, Fanie de Villiers* 67| Sunil Joshi 4/43 (24)
INDIA 190 (79.2 OVERS) (Second Innings)
Rahul Dravid 34, VVS Laxman 51| Paul Adams 3/30 (9.2), Allan Donald 3/32 (15)
SOUTH AFRICA 105(38.5 OVERS) (Second Innings)
Hansie Cronje*48 | Anil Kumble 3/34 (12), Javagal Srinath 6/21 (11.5)
Player of the match – Javagal Srinath

#10 India vs Pakistan, 2nd Test at Delhi, Apr 1999 (Captain: Mohammad Azharuddin) (Series result: 1-1 )

Anil Kumble picking up 10 wickets

India were playing the second Test of the two-match series against Pakistan in Delhi. India had lost the first Test at Chennai by a slim margin of 12 runs and the hosts were in a must-win situation before the match along with the Kargil war adding to the sporting drama.

India elected to bat, and were restricted by Saqlain Mushtaq to a modest 252 on a pitch with low bounce, he picked up another five wicket haul. Skipper Azhar and operner Sadagoppan Ramesh scoring half centuries.

Indian bowlers bowled exceptionally well Harbhajan Singh taking 3 for 30 and Anil Kumble picking up 4 wickets for 75 runs, Pakistan failed to take advantage and were bundled out cheaply, for 172.

The 80-run lead was crucial. When India batted again, Ramesh fell short by four runs of a deserved century. No one else in the top order really got going, but Sourav Ganguly with a gritty half-century and Srinath put on 100 for the eighth wicket. India set a target for 420 for the visitors.

Chasing 420 with almost two days to spare, Pakistan got off to a decent start. Shahid Afridi and Saeed Anwar cut loose and the packed Feroz Shah Kotla was silenced as the visitors had raced away to 101/0 at lunch.

It was then Kumble who came into the attack and wreaked havoc on the Pakistani batting line-up. The spinner, also known as ‘Jumbo’ first dismissed Afridi (41) in the 25th over. Indian wicketkeeper Nayan Mongia took a sharp catch to dismiss Shahid Afridi and the formidable Pakistan batting line-up crumbled. Ijaz Ahmed and Mohammad Yousuf had no answers to Kumble’s flipper and were caught leg-before. Inzamam-ul-Haq chopped on and Saleem Malik bamboozled. Pakistan was reduced to 128/6 in no time.

Kumble continued taking wickets at regular intervals and he got his tenth scalp in the 61st over after dismissing Wasim Akram. This effort enabled India to register a win by 212 runs, and Kumble became the second bowler after England’s Jim Laker to take all ten wickets in a single Test inning. Kumble finished with the bowling figures of 10-74 from 26.3 overs.

MATCH SUMMARY: (Arun Jaitley Stadium)
INDIA 252 (91.5 OVERS) (First Innings)
Mohammad Azharuddin 67, Sadagoppan Ramesh 60| Saqlain Mushtaq 5/94 (35.5)
PAKISTAN 172(64.3 OVERS) (First Innings)
Saleem Malik 31, Shahid Afridi 32| Harbhajan Singh 3/30 (17), Anil Kumble 4/75 (24.3)
INDIA 339(113.4 OVERS) (Second Innings)
Sourav Ganguly* 62, S Ramesh 96| S Mushtaq 5/122 (46.4), Wasim Akram3/43 (21)
PAKISTAN 207(60.3 OVERS) (Second Innings)
Saeed Anwar 69, Shahid Afridi 41 | Anil Kumble 10/74 (26.3)
Player of the match – Anil Kumble

#11 India vs Australia, 2nd Test at Kolkata, Mar 2001 (Captain: Saurav Ganguly) (Series result: India won the 3 match series 2-1)

V V S Laxman & Rahul Dravid

The all-conquering Australian side led by Steve Waugh landed in India and were looking to create history by winning a Test series in India for the first time since 1969-70. The visitors won the first Test in Mumbai by a huge margin. It appeared that Indians were in no state to stop the Aussie juggernaut from achieving their goal. Indian batting was in a shamble with Sachin Tendulkar alone showing the necessary skill to cope with the Aussie attack led by Glenn McGrath and the legendary Shane Warne. Skipper Sourav Ganguly and his deputy Rahul Dravid appeared to be woefully out of form while others did not inspire any confidence with the bat. When the second Test match began at Kolkata, knives were out for Ganguly.

Australia won the toss and batted first when the Test match began at Eden Gardens. They scored 445 in their first innings on the back of captain Steve Waugh’s 110 and 97 from Matthew Hayden, however it was Harbhajan Singh who stole the show, claiming 7/123 including the first hat-trick in India’s Test history.

When their turn came to bat, none of the Indian batsmen could get going. Tendulkar was dismissed for 10, while Dravid and Ganguly made it to the 20s before losing their wickets. The only batsman who tackled the Aussie bowlers with some degree of comfort was V V S Laxman. After the fall of Ganguly, with the total on 88, he took charge and ensured that the scoreboard kept moving, despite the regular loss of wickets. He marshaled the strike when last man Venkatesh Prasad joined him and the duo added 42 runs before Laxman was dismissed by Warne for 59. The Indian innings closed at 171, conceding the visitors a first innings lead of 274 runs.

Waugh did not hesitate to invoke the follow-on rule and asked the Indian batsmen to bat again. The Indians started their innings again, with much more determination this time out. The openers put on 52 runs for the first wicket before Laxman walked in. He seemed to carry on where he left in the last innings with a series of superb cover drives, wristy flicks and cheeky drags, which kept everyone in awe.

Soon, S.Das and Sachin Tendulkar departed in quick fashion. The skipper stuck around gamely with Laxman and the pair added 117 runs for the fourth wicket. Just as it appeared that this pair would see India through the day, McGrath managed to coax the Indian captain to poke his bat at one outside his off stump and Gilchrist made no mistake behind the stumps. Skipper Ganguly fell two runs short of a half century, bringing Rahul ‘The Wall’ Dravid to the crease. The score read 232/4.

The fourth day of this Test match would not be forgotten by anyone who was fortunate to witness the proceedings on the ground, see it on television or listen to the radio commentary. Laxman started the day by driving the first ball he received to the fence and this set the tempo for the day. He was in such sublime touch that he repeated this act of hitting boundary off the first ball he faced after lunch and tea break as well. Dravid was more circumspect, which was only to be expected given the fact that he was going through a lean patch. Hence Laxman took the lead and attacked the Aussie bowlers who tried every trick that they knew.

It was during the session between lunch and tea, that fans of the home side first started entertaining the hope that the match could be saved. As Laxman and Dravid ground the Aussie bowling to the dust, Indian hopes started soaring. Laxman flick pulled McGrath and Gillespie through non-existent gaps. And Laxman did all this with a bad back, frequently requiring attention from the physio. At the other end was Rahul Dravid, gaining back form and confidence by just watching Laxman’s sublime strokes, his own viral fever all but forgotten. Dravid employed the cut with devastating effect. Laxman cover drove Shane Warne’s leg breaks pitched wide outside the leg, leaving Warne distraught. Dravid followed up by coming down the track to the bowler and hitting the ball on the on side against the spin. The duo took Warne apart.

While Laxman completed his double century, Dravid reached his century. By now despair could be seen on the faces of Australians as skipper Waugh tried out as many as nine bowlers to separate this pair, without any success. It was an amazing day’s cricket. The pair of Laxman and Dravid had added 296 runs during the day without being separated.  It would be an understatement to say that both batsmen were tired. They were completely exhausted, but they hung on gamely determined not to lose their wickets. India ended the day at 589/4, with a 315 run lead and the dynamic duo still at the crease.

India batted for another hour on the last day before Ganguly declared the innings with the total at 657/7. Laxman was dismissed early in the day for 281 but Dravid stayed on and added 25 runs at a brisk rate before he was run out. The declaration left Aussies staring at a target of 384 in a maximum number of 75 overs, an almost impossible one to attain.

Aussies are known to never give up. They soon raced to 166/3 in 45 overs, and with 30 overs left in the game, a draw was imminent. Steve Waugh played good defensive cricket, and it became certain that a draw was unavoidable. Then came something special – the young Harbhajan Singh turned the game around. He dismissed Ponting and Waugh in quick succession and brought an inspired India back into the game. Sachin Tendulkar then managed to dismiss Adam Gilchrist leg before wicket in the wicketkeeper’s very first delivery, before taking out the menacing Hayden and Shane Warne with his mix of leg spin and googlies.

When Harbhajan trapped McGrath in front of the wicket to signal the end of the match, a mighty roar erupted from the stadium.  Australia had been dismissed for 212, leaving India victorious by 171 runs. This victory marked the turning point in the history of Indian cricket. Emboldened by this win and the subsequent triumph in the series, Ganguly grew into a strong leader of men who molded the side into a fighting unit that could take on the West Indies, England, Australia and Pakistan on their home turf and record victories.

MATCH SUMMARY: (Eden Gardens)
AUSTRALIA 445 (131.5 OVERS) (First Innings)
Matthew Hayden 97, Steve Waugh 110 | Harbhajan Singh 7/123 (37.5)
INDIA 171 (58.1 OVERS) (First Innings)
VVS Laxman 59| Glenn McGrath 4/18 (14)
INDIA 657/7d f/o (178 OVERS) (Second Innings)
VVS Laxman 281, Rahul Dravid 180 | Glenn McGrath 3/103 (39)
AUSTRALIA 212(68.3 OVERS) (Second Innings)
Matthew Hayden 67 | Harbhajan Singh 6/73 (30.3), Sachin Tendulkar3/31 (11)
Player of the match – VVS Laxman

#12 West Indies vs India, 2nd Test at Port of Spain, Apr 2002 (Captain: Saurav Ganguly) (Series result: West Indies won the 5 match series 2-1)

Sachin Tendulkar

The early days of Sourav Ganguly’s captaincy, India had still not shed their reputation of being lions at home and not winning abroad. Carl Hooper won the toss and did not hesitate to put India in to bat first. On a pitch with a lot of grass on it, the West Indies opted to go in with four fast bowlers. The Indian team management was forced to make the tough decision to drop their most successful bowler, Anil Kumble, to include the extra seamer – Ashish Nehra. (The sight of Anil Kumble emerging from the pavilion, ready to bowl, his face bandaged, was during the 4th Test of this tour in Antigua, is one of cricket’s most inspiring)

India had a new pair of batsmen walking out to open the innings in Shiv Sunder Das and Sanjay Bangar. The two batsmen could only add 18 runs for the first wicket. Rahul Dravid, back at number three, and Tendulkar thus had a job in their hands to repair the Indian first innings. Both Dravid and Tendulkar played some handsome shots past the ropes and reached their respective half-centuries to take India safely to 156/2 at tea.

The third-wicket stand between Dravid and Tendulkar yielded a valuable 124 runs off 33.3 overs. Sourav Ganguly took his time to get settled even as Tendulkar started hitting the boundaries. The Indian skipper took 10 runs off one of his counterpart’s overs, striking two boundaries. The two batsmen brought up the 50-run stand soon, but Ganguly danced down the track to Hooper soon after, giving an easy catch to Dillon at mid-off. The highlight of the day’s play was Sachin Tendulkar scoring his 29th Test century to equal Sir Donald Bradman’s record of Test hundreds. Laxman was left stranded 69 not out.

After bowling India out for 339, the home side got off to a brisk start. However, were struggling at 197/6 at stumps on the second day. The next day began with the hosts adding 48 runs to their overnight score. West Indies were all out for 245 in response to India’s 339 on the third day. Carl Hooper with a 50 helped whittle down the Indian lead to 94.

In their second innings the Indian openers Shiv Sunder Das and Sanjay Bangar were again found wanting. Rahul Dravid (36 runs) who looked in prime form, hitting the ball fluently, perished when things were going India’s way, caught behind down the leg side off Cameron Cuffy. And then, Sachin Tendulkar was trapped lbw by Sanford for a duck. India in trouble at 77/4 at tea.

Sourav Ganguly played tentatively yet carefully to remain unbeaten on 48, VVS Laxman, fluent as ever, remained at the wicket with 60 to his name as India reached 165/4 at the end of the third day.

The next day began with India on top Sourav Ganguly and VVS Laxman started off by putting together a meaningful partnership. With flicks off the toes and pulls that rang true, Laxman made a mighty 74. Ganguly remained unbeaten on 75 when the Indian innings ended. Setting the West Indies a target of 313 for victory.

After starting well, the West Indies were 131 for two when bad light stopped play. Lara was unbeaten on 40, There is still everything to play for, With 182 runs still needed and a full day’s play remaining, this match was up for grabs.

When the fifth day began, there was much anticipation of an inspired performance from either home-boy Brian Lara or skipper Carl Hooper. After adding seven runs to his overnight score in a period of abundant caution and a hint of nervousness, Lara edged a quick one from Ashish Nehra to Dravid at slip. Just two overs later, Hooper pulled a short one from Nehra straight to the hands of Shiv Sunder Das at square leg. Sourav Ganguly, constantly chatting to his bowlers in animated tones and occasionally even slipping a word in to the batsmen and umpires, was fired up. His team, not far behind, accordingly delivered the goods. Javagal Srinath, Ashish Nehra and Zaheer Khan all bowled with purpose and fire to dismiss the hosts for 275. India recorded a well deserved 37-run win in Port of Spain.

MATCH SUMMARY: (Queen’s Park Oval)
INDIA 339 (115.5 OVERS) (First Innings)
Sachin Tendulkar 117, VVS Laxman* 69| Marlon Black 3/53 (17.5)
WEST INDIES 245 (77.5 OVERS) (First Innings)
Brian Lara 52, Carl Hooper 50 | Javagal Srinath 3/71 (22)
INDIA 218 (92.1 OVERS) (Second Innings)
Sourav Ganguly* 75, VVS Laxman 74 | Mervyn Dillon 4/42 (21.1), Cuffy 3/53 (20)
WEST INDIES 275 (115.1 OVERS) (Second Innings)
S Chanderpaul* 67, Chris Gayle 52 | Ashish Nehra 3/72 (31), Javagal Srinath 3/69 (32)
Player of the match – VVS Laxman

#13 England v India, 3rd Test at Leeds, Aug 2002 (Captain: Saurav Ganguly) (Series result: 1-1)

Sourav Ganguly

One Test match that would be a decisive inflection point in India’s ascent to the top, would be Headingley 2002. From Headingley onwards, India began to win abroad regularly. It was not just a win. It was a statement that India could overcome opponents even in the most difficult circumstances.

Coach and captain made some bold moves that summer. None bolder than their decision to move Sehwag up as opener. In hindsight, it was perhaps the most important decision during the Wright–Ganguly period. Sehwag announced himself with blazing knocks of 84 and 106 at Lord’s and Trent Bridge and never looked back, only to become the most attacking opener in Test history.

India came into the 3rd Test match in Headingley after being 0-1 down in the 4-match Test series. On a seam-friendly pitch under overcast conditions, Saurav dropped left-arm fast bowler Ashish Nehra to accommodate both spinners Anil Kumble and Harbhajan Singh, and brought in Sanjay Bangar as opener in place of Wasim Jaffer. Headingley was dark, dank, cloudy, unwelcoming to the visitors. Yet, Ganguly dared to bat first. Batting first after winning the toss.

India put on an absolute run-fest, plundering the English bowlers for two and a half days. The architects of this magnanimous total were Rahul Dravid, Sachin Tendulkar and the captain, Ganguly, who hit patient, yet aggressive Test centuries to break the spirits of the English cricketers.

When Dravid departed on the second day of the Test after making 148 and sharing a 150-run partnership with Tendulkar for the 3rd wicket, Ganguly walked in. The left-hander went all guns blazing and launch a fresh attack on the already tired English troops. A 249-run partnership flourished between Ganguly and Tendulkar, during which the Prince of Kolkata scored 128 runs to further demoralize the English bowling attack that contained the likes of Darren Gough, Andrew Caddick, Andrew Flintoff and Ashley Giles. Tendulkar fell just 7 runs short of a double hundred, as he was dismissed for 193 shortly after Ganguly’s dismissal. Indian batsmen showcased their class as they decimated a hapless English attack declared their first innings on 628.

Hussain’s openers began well. Robert Key and Michael Vaughan took England to lunch at 61 without loss, but the breakthroughs came after lunch. Key was caught off Zaheer. Skipper Hussain joined Vaughan and was patently uncomfortable, taking knocks on his fingers as Ajit Agarkar, bowling a splendid spell of eight overs, tested him. Vaughan survived a dropped catch behind the stumps but off the next ball, Sehwag caught him at cover for the score to become 130 for 3. Zaheer trapped Hussain leg before for 25. Amidst all this, Alec Stewart was fighting hard. He found a willing partner in the doughty Ashley Giles and the two stitched a 70-run partnership. England were bowled out for 273 in the first innings with the spin twins, Anil Kumble and Harbhajan Singh, picking up 3 wickets apiece. The hosts were made to follow on.

When they came out to bat again, Agarkar was in full form and got the priceless wicket of Vaughan cheaply. The Yorkshire man was trapped leg before when England had just 28 on the board. Butcher had fought well for his 42 with two hours of watchful batting then he fell to a lapse in concentration against the gentle swing of Bangar. The old firm of Stewart and Hussain set up repair shop. In contrasting style, the two veterans proceeded to battle for the next three hours. They took England to 265 before Hussain edged one from Kumble to Sehwag at short-leg. Within minutes Flintoff collected a pair as Zaheer Khan had him caught in the slips by Dravid. At the same score, Stewart now fell, this time Kumble getting him caught off a legbreak that took the edge.

Kumble had delivered twin blows with top-class deliveries. He was getting the ball to turn and rear up from a difficult length. With seven gone, there seemed little to play for as Giles and Alex Tudor put up a semblance of resistance, which ended with a misunderstanding between the two over a single. The last two wickets Tudor and Caddick were shared by Kumble and Harbhajan and the Indians celebrated with abandon as the last English pair walked off disconsolately. Despite a century by captain Nasser Hussain of 110 runs, Kumble’s four-wicket haul sealed their fate. India won the match by an innings and 46 runs to level the series, which was eventually drawn.

This was the game where self-belief propelled the Indian team towards glory. They did not choose an easy option, they chose the harder one and they knew that if they succeeded, such a victory would have far-reaching benefits for the team.

MATCH SUMMARY: (Headingley)
INDIA 628/8d (180.1 OVERS) (First Innings)
Rahul Dravid 148, Sachin Tendulkar 193, Saurav Ganguly 128
ENGLAND 273 (89 OVERS) (First Innings)
Michael Vaughan 61, Alec Stewart* 78| Harbhajan Singh 3/40 (18), Anil Kumble 3/93 (33)
ENGLAND 309 f/o (110.5 OVERS) (Second Innings)
Nasser Hussain 110 | Anil Kumble 4/66 (29.5)
Player of the match – Rahul Dravid

#14 Australia vs India, 2nd Test at Adelaide, Dec 2002 (Captain: Saurav Ganguly) (Series result: 1-1)

Rahul Dravid & Ajit Agarkar

Test series between India and Australia have always been successful in drawing the attention of cricket fans across all parts of the world. The Sourav Ganguly led Indian team were able to win a Test each in the series they had played in Zimbabwe, West Indies and England before the compelling tour Down Under in Dec 2003. They were up against the all-conquering Steve Waugh’s Australians in what would be the final Test series of the legendary Aussie skipper. Though Indians were a confident bunch, the odds were against them.

Indians showed their character in the first Test itself. In the rain-curtailed affair at the Gabba stadium in Brisbane, Indian bowlers surprised everyone by restricting Kangaroos for 323 in the first innings. Then their captain Sourav Ganguly led from the front scoring a spectacular 144 to steer the Indian total to 409 gaining a lead of 83 runs. Though the first Test ended in a draw, it helped India gaining a kind of momentum for the rest of the series.

On Day 1 of the Adelaide Test, Steve Waugh won the toss and didn’t think twice to bat first. Australian batsmen started coming down heavily on Indian bowlers scoring at a rapid pace. Opener Justin Langer scored a quick fire 58, while Ricky Ponting (famously known as “Punter”) made the mincemeat of Indian bowlers scoring a brisk century. Australia had reached a mammoth 400 for the loss of 5 wickets. All Indian bowlers were taken to the cleaners by the Punter.

On Day 2, Ponting with his overnight score of 176 continued his onslaught on clueless Indian bowlers and shared an 83-run partnership with Jason Gillespie for the eighth wicket. Punter raced to 242 with the help of 31 boundaries. But soon after the lunch Anil Kumble struck thrice in a single over to end the Punter’s onslaught and cutting short the Aussie score at 556. Anil’s bowling figures read 5 for 154 adding one more five-wicket haul to his growing kitty.

Indian openers Virender Sehwag and Aakash Chopra started well reaching 66/0 in 11 overs before Aakash Chopra fell for 27 to pacer Andy Bichel. The latter soon removed the dangerous looking Sehwag and sent Sachin Tendulkar back to pavilion soon after he had opened his account. A mix-up between captain Sourav Ganguly and his deputy Rahul Dravid ended in a run-out of the former leaving India in tatters at 85 for 4 just before Tea. The task was up to the new batsman VVS Laxman to forge a partnership with Dravid in order to take their team to safety.

Post tea, Dravid and Laxman dropped the anchor, steadied the Indian ship and ensured no more causalities on the day. At the stumps of Day 2, India were 180/4 with Dravid batting at 43 and Laxman going past the half century mark.

No one seemed to have forgotten the Indian summer of 2001 when the same pair had taken away the game from Kangaroos to script an unrealistic victory for India at Eden Garden, Kolkata. On Day 3, unfortunately, the worst fears came true for Aussies as Dravid-Laxman duo started batting with ease. They had the task cut-out in their minds and batted sensibly against the Aussie pace attack. The Indian duo didn’t let the century celebrations affect their concentration levels.

Dravid went past 150 but Laxman poked one outside the off stump to keeper Adam Gilchrist falling two short of a well deserved 150. But before parting, the duo had added 303 runs bringing back the memories of Kolkata Test of 2001. As the play began on Day 4, Dravid didn’t take much time to complete his fourth double hundred, ensured India crossed 500 run mark. He was the last man to go when India’s total was 523 conceding a slender lead of 33 runs.

The Wall (as Dravid is popularly called) had stood firm for nearly six hours at the crease, and had made Australians spend nearly two days on the field. With just over five sessions remaining in the match, the draw seemed to be a more probable outcome. But the Kangaroos were famous for enforcing a result in favor of them from any given point in a match. They came to bat with the same mindset in the second innings but this time the script was being written by someone else.

Ajit Agarkar, the quickest bowler in the Indian squad, struck in his second over removing opener Justin Langer and a couple of overs later packed off the first innings hero Ponting for a nought, when Aussies’ score was just 18. Another new ball operator, Ashish Nehra joined the party by removing dangerous Matthew Hayden for 17. Steve Waugh then joined Damien Martyn to steady the ship and added 65 useful runs for the fourth wicket. But the golden arms of Sachin Tendulkar and magic reflexes of Dravid did the damage for Australia twice, sending both the set batsmen to pavilion in a span of 3 runs. Adam Gilchrist made a quickfire 43 of 41 balls before Kumble bowled him around the legs leaving the hosts at 183 for 6. Agarkar was brought back into attack who cleaned up the rest of the host batting for a modest-looking 196. It was Agarkar’s best bowling performance in Tests.

Being set the target of 230 India had to bat out 10 overs before the day’s close. Indian openers Aakash Chopra and Virender Sehwag made a brisk start and ended the day with 37 without any wicket. Going into the Day 5, Indian fans had started sensing it to be a historical day in the making! But chasing 193 runs on the final day of a Test was never going to be an easy affair.

Opener Aakash Chopra departed in the fifth over of the day falling in LBW trap against Jason Gillespie. Sehwag got out when India’s score was 79, Out of form Tendulkar joined Dravid in the middle and scored a quick 37 and added 70 runs for the third wicket before getting adjudged LBW when India’s score was 149. Captain Ganguly didn’t last long and the task to see India home again fell on the broad shoulders of Dravid and Laxman. They didn’t disappoint as they added 51 runs for the fifth wicket before Laxman fell to the part-time bowler Simon Katich. But the task was almost done as India needed just 9 more runs to win.

Dravid stayed till the end to provide the winning runs that too with a stylish cover drive of Stuart MacGill. India won by 4 wickets. Captain Ganguly who was already standing just outside the boundary ropes came in and gave a bear hug to his deputy who had scripted one of the most famous victories for his country on foreign soil.

MATCH SUMMARY: (Adelaide Oval)
AUSTRALIA 556 (127 OVERS) (First Innings)
Ricky Ponting 242, Simon Katich75| Anil Kumble 5/154 (43)
INDIA 523 (161.5 OVERS) (First Innings)
Rahul Dravid 233, VVS Laxman148| Andy Bichel 4/118 (28)
AUSTRALIA 196 (56.2 OVERS) (Second Innings)
Adam Gilchrist 43, Steve Waugh 42 | Ajit Agarkar 6/41 (16.2)
INDIA 233/6 (72.4 OVERS) (Second Innings)
Rahul Dravid* 72 , Virender Sehwag 47
Player of the match – Rahul Dravid

#15 Pakistan vs India, 1st Test at Multan, Mar 2004 (Captain: Rahul Dravid) (Series result: India won the 3 match series 2-1)

Virender Sehwag

India was coming into this series from a tour to Australia where the Test series was a moral victory. With Sourav Ganguly coming in as captain, there was a perceptible difference in the attitude of the team, and the desire to win abroad was evident. And there were high expectations from the team. In the high-scoring one-day series preceding the Tests in Pakistan, India had prevailed 3-2.

On the first morning of the match, Ganguly found himself unfit. Stand-in captain Dravid won the toss, and promptly chose to bat on a wicket prepared to yield runs. Sehwag and Aakash Chopra took over. While Chopra expectedly began slow at one end, Sehwag started off in blistering fashion.

Shoaib Akhtar steamed in and delivered one frustrated bouncer after another. Mohammad Sami found that shortening his run-up did nothing to improve his accuracy. Shabbir Ahmed tried and tried, but even his high-armed action did not threaten the batsmen.

Virender Sehwag racked up the fastest double-century on the subcontinent to put India in control. When he reached 200, he had made 134 runs just in boundaries. No bowler was spared, no shot left unattempted. In contrasting fashion, Chopra played his part. To Sehwag’s strident lead, Chopra hummed the back-up vocals. He blocked, nudged, dabbed, pushed and then blocked as the bowlers pounded in.

Chopra stonewalled for 121 balls, reaching 42, before he inside-edged a ball from Saqlain Mushtaq. Dravid fell soon after. That was the last time the thin crowd of Pakistan supporters rose to their feet to cheer one of their own. Sehwag was joined by Tendulkar, and they made sure that they did not undo the good work of the first session. Tendulkar ensured that no wickets fell. . There was an air of resignation to Pakistan’s bowlers every time Tendulkar faced up. While Sehwag’s savagery, executed with the smile and wink of an inebriated pirate, always appeared to give the bowlers a chance, Tendulkar’s mastery only reminded them of the heat and the dust.

When the second day begins, the screws will tighten, as Tendulkar resumes on 60 and Sehwag continues from 228. New ball, old ball, nothing made a difference, as Tendulkar reached his 33rd Test hundred with another typical turn to leg. With people at the edge of their seats and Sehwag on 292 lunch was taken.

Sehwag and Tendulkar walked out after lunch, and time moved excruciatingly slowly as Tendulkar hit two fours and Sehwag inched his way to 295. Sehwag stepped out to Saqlain Mushtaq and with his trademark swing of the bat, deposited the ball well over the long on boundary. And history was made. Sehwag’s first 300, India’s first 300. Virender Sehwag had become the the man who rewrote the rules of Test batting, the man the nation came to adore. Sehwag made 309 runs off 375 deliveries with 39 fours and six sixes. His marauding knock, earned him the moniker ‘Sultan of Multan’

If one thought this was the most memorable moment of the Test, well, no. The drama was just beginning. Sehwag soon edged to slip, and Pakistan finally held on to one from Sehwag. Laxman’s innings was of 29 runs. When Yuvraj Singh came out to bat, Tendulkar was on 155 off 302 balls. When he was out on a brisk 59 off 66 balls, Tendulkar was on a tantalizing 194. The way he was batting he would get to his 200 in perhaps the next couple of overs. And then, the declaration came!!

Never before in Indian cricket, a declaration was made with a batsman on the cusp of a double hundred. It was arguably the most controversial decision ever, and emotions ran high. This was decided by Dravid and coach John Wright that the innings would be declared when there are 15 overs left in the day. Tendulkar, stranded on 194, was not a happy man as he felt he should have got another over, as was decided earlier, to get to his milestone.

The third morning, Pakistan started positively, maintaining a good run rate, but Taufeeq Umar was out to an impressive Irfan Pathan. Two best batsmen in the Pakistan team, Inzamam was caught at the wrong end of a bat-pad catch, while Youhana was dismissed trying to flick a ball slipping well down the leg side.

India ended a day of gently seesawing fortunes with the advantage, having taken six Pakistani wickets at intermittent intervals throughout the day, the last coming off the final delivery. Moin Khan had come to the crease and had scored three boundaries off a Zaheer Khan over. Then for the last over of the day, Sachin came to bowl.

The first five balls passed without incident, and everyone was prepared to switch off, when Tendulkar produced a loopy googly that a nervous Moin Khan prodded at in front on his legs, completely squared up. The ball sneaked in between Moin’s legs and hit the leg stump, for a crucial breakthrough to start Day 4 with the initiative.

The day began with Pakistan in difficulty at 364 for 6, and ended with them staring defeat in the face. There was meaningful resistance only from Abdul Razzaq, as Pakistan kept losing wickets to finally fold 268 runs short and eligible to be asked to follow on

Pakistan were forced to bat out a tricky period before lunch, and did so with aplomb, spectators at the ground still believed that they could pull off a draw. Imran Farhat and Yasir Hameed played out seven overs for 11 runs. But soon after the lunch interval, things began to happen, slowly but surely, for India. Yousuf Youhana scored a fighting century to keep the jaws of defeat from snapping shut. With Pakistan on 207 for 9, and India on the verge of an historic win, the umpires removed the bails and stumps were drawn on the fourth day.

It took India just eight minutes on the final morning to wrap up a historic first Test victory. Pakistan folded for 216 to hand India a heady win by an innings and 52 runs. It was an authoritative victory. India went on to lose the next Test, but the team showed their confidence and resilience by bouncing back to win the third Test and the series.

MATCH SUMMARY: (Multan Cricket Stadium)
INDIA 675/5d (161.5 OVERS) (First Innings)
Virender Sehwag 309, Sachin Tendulkar* 194
PAKISTAN 407 (126.3 OVERS) (First Innings)
Inzamam-ul-Haq 77, Yasir Hameed 91| Irfan Pathan 4/100 (28)
PAKISTAN 216 f/o (77 OVERS) (Second Innings)
Imran Farhat 24, Mohammad Yousuf 112 | Anil Kumble 6/72 (30)
Player of the match – Virender Sehwag

#16 South Africa vs India, 1st Test at Johannesburg, Dec 2006 (Captain: Rahul Dravid) (Series result: South Africa won the 3 match series 2-1 )

Graeme Smith’s South Africa were firm favorites to win the three-match Test series in 2006. India, led by Rahul Dravid, had already lost the ODI series, which preceded the first Test in Johannesburg, 4-0. Ganguly was making a comeback to the Indian team in that series, and given his fallout with then India coach Greg Chappell, was probably just one failure away from being dropped again.

The first day was marred by poor weather and the start was delayed. Though history favored teams batting second, Dravid chose to bat. South Africa had trusted their strength and conditions and picked a quartet of fast bowlers. India were quickly 14 for 2, having lost Virender Sehwag and Wasim Jaffer, but Sachin Tendulkar and Dravid slowed things with a spirited defence, stitching together a 69-run partnership. Tendulkar and Dravid were out with just over 100 on the board, India needed the middle order to stay strong.

It was Ganguly’s third visit to South Africa and he made a fighting half-century, and he, with support from the lower order, chaperoned by VVS Laxman, frustrated Smith’s men.

On the second morning South Africa took four wickets for 49 runs before the last man, VRV Singh, joined Ganguly. VRV was not even supposed to play the Test match, but a good bowling performance in the warm-up game had helped his cause. He ended up playing one of the more exciting and memorable tail-end innings. A lusty 29 and a record 44-run partnership for the last wicket with the former captain who remained unbeaten and helped India to a competitive total.

India wanted to bundle out South Africa for about 200, it would keep them even. It was cloudier too, when India came in to bowl.  Watching Sreesanth and Zaheer Khan scythe through South Africa’s batting was as surreal as watching a condemned gladiator dismember a pride of lions with his bare hands.

The South Africans were blown away in their first innings, dismissed for just 84 runs in only 25.1 overs. The mercurial S. Sreesanth was the wrecker-in-chief, with his prodigious swing and seam movement. He dismantled the South African top and middle order to return figures of 5/40. He was ably supported by the other bowlers, with Zaheer Khan and Kumble pitching in with 2 wickets apiece.

With a handsome 165-run lead in the first innings, the Indian team had the upper hand. They did not release the stranglehold. Laxman switched between blocking and flowing. Anything on the pads was delicately clipped away and a couple of jaw-dropping straight drives demoralized South Africa further.

The morning session then saw the battle of the two nutters. Sreesanth decided to match Nel antic for antic – returning glares and sledges. After Sreesanth backed away to the leg side and tried to mow a delivery over the infield, Andre Nel strode up and pointed to his heart, perhaps suggesting that Sreesanth lacked the ticker to take him on. The next ball was met with a charge down the track, with the ball disappearing for six. And as he ran down the pitch, Sreesanth whirled his bat around mockingly in Nel’s direction with a pelvic thrust of a break-dancer. Almost everyone watching had a laughter attack.

India put on a score of 236 runs in the 2nd innings, setting a huge target of 402 runs for the South Africans to chase in the 4th innings.

The Indian pace bowlers again wreaked havoc among the South African top order. After Khan dismissed Herschelle Gibbs for a duck, Sreesanth took the prized wickets.

Jacques Kallis was the beacon of hope for South Africa as they set off in pursuit of an improbable victory. Tt required a tremendous delivery to get rid of him. Sreesanth pitched one just outside off stump, the away movement off the seam took the edge to third slip. Sourav Ganguly took a superb catch in front of his rib cage, and it became a matter of when, rather than if, India would win.

Although Ashwell Prince played a patient innings of 97, India continued to chip away with wickets at the other end. This 123-run victory was even more significant as it was the Indian cricket team’s first-ever Test victory on South African soil.

MATCH SUMMARY: (Wanderers Stadium)
INDIA 249 (79.5 OVERS) (First Innings)
Sourav Ganguly* 51, Sachin Tendulkar 44| S Pollock 4/39(17.5), Makhaya Ntini 3/57(18)
SOUTH AFRICA 84 (25.1 OVERS) (First Innings)
Ashwell Prince 24 | S. Sreesanth 5/40(10)
INDIA 236 (64.4 OVERS) (Second Innings)
VVS Laxman 73, Zaheer Khan 37| Shaun Pollock 3/33(16), Andre Nel 3/58(19)
SOUTH AFRICA 278 (86.5 OVERS) (Second Innings)
Ashwell Prince 97, Shaun Pollock 40 | Sreesanth 3/59(25), Anil Kumble 3/54(20)
Player of the match – Sreesanth

#17 England vs India, 2nd Test at Nottingham, Jul 2007 (Captain: Rahul Dravid) (Series result: India won the 3 match series 1-0 )

Rahul Dravid walks off with Sourav Ganguly

The Indian team went on their tour of England without a coach as Greg Chappell had resigned after the 2007 ICC World Cup debacle. India managed to survive a loss in the first Test by the skin of their teeth. Rahul Dravid and his men travelled to Nottingham for the second Test hoping for someone to put up his hand and perform. And that performance came from paceman Zaheer Khan. India started off well as they bundled up the Englishmen for 198 runs with Zaheer Khan picking 4 wickets.

The star-studded Indian batting line-up responded in style with five of them registering half-centuries. Sachin Tendulkar (91) and Sourav Ganguly (79) turned the clock back with a 96-run stand as India put on a mammoth 481 all out in the first innings.

A 283-run deficit meant England needed their batsman to make a strong comeback and captain Michael Vaughan scored a belligerent 124 to lead a rearguard. But a freak dismissal ended Vaughan’s vigil and with that went England’s chances. Only two batsmen from the English camp were able to cross the 50-run mark in both their innings combined, is summary enough of how the game progressed. Michael Vaughan was the silver lining of the England batting line-up.

Khan completed a deserved five-wicket haul as England were bowled out for 355, giving India a target of 73 runs to win the match.

India needed only to complete the formalities on the final morning, but they were made to work hard to polish off the remaining 63 runs. Led by a fiery spell from Chris Tremlett, England fought with plenty of heart.

Dravid, though, patiently swayed out of the way of every short ball that came his way, and with a target of 73, victory was only a matter of time. The winning runs came when Tremlett bowled an in swinger that beat Sourav Ganguly and Matt Prior and raced down for four byes.

 India needed 21 overs before finally completing a seven-wicket victory, their fifth Test win in England and the first at Trent Bridge, to go 1-0 in the series.

The collective brilliance of the Indian batting order coupled with the bowling prowess displayed by the pair of Anil Kumble and especially Zaheer Khan was crucial in India’s victory in the game.

MATCH SUMMARY: (Trent Bridge)
ENGLAND 198 (65.3 OVERS) (First Innings)
Alastair Cook 43, Ian Bell 31| Zaheer Khan 4/59(21), Anil Kumble 3/32(12.3)
INDIA 481 (158.5 OVERS) (First Innings)
Sachin Tendulkar 91, Sourav Ganguly* 79 | M Panesar 4/101(33.5), C Tremlett 3/80(40)
ENGLAND 355 (104 OVERS) (Second Innings)
Michael Vaughan 124, P Collingwood 63 | Zaheer Khan 5/75(27), Anil Kumble 3/104(25)
NDIA 73/3 (24.1 OVERS) (Second Innings)
Wasim Jaffer 22, Dinesh Karthik 22 | Chris Tremlett 3/12(7.1
Player of the match – Zaheer Khan

#18 Australia vs India, 3rd Test at Perth, Jan 2008 (Captain: Anil Kumble) (Series result: Australia won the 4 match series 2-1)

Sachin & Dravid – Show

The Western Australia Cricket Ground at Perth was the Australian team’s fortress – which not many teams have been able to conquer. Considered by many as the fastest pitch in the world. Before this match, the nine previous matches here by teams from subcontinent – five for Pakistan, and two each for India and Sri Lanka – had all ended in Australian wins, almost all of them by convincing margins.

Indian skipper Anil Kumble won the toss and elected to bat. Openers Virender Sehwag and Wasim Jaffer justified their captain’s decision and put on 57 runs for the first wicket. Sehwag was dismissed by Mitchell Johnson. Jaffer followed him soon. This brought together two of India’s best batsmen – Sachin Tendulkar and Rahul Dravid. Over the next 38 overs or so, the two treated the crowd to some immaculate display of batting. A 139-run partnership flourished between the two. India ended the day at 297 runs for the loss of 6 wickets.

The second day belonged to the Indian bowlers. RP Singh was the chief havoc creator and ended with figures of 4 wickets for 68 runs. It was also a special day for skipper Kumble as he took his 600th Test wicket. The Australians were bundled out for 212 runs in just 50 overs. India began their second innings confidently and raced to 52 runs for the loss of one wicket in 11 overs, courtesy of some bold batting by Sehwag.

Day 3 of this match ensured something special from VVS Laxman. Like he had done numerous times in the past, Laxman, in the company of the tailenders was given the task of getting India out of trouble. And Laxman did not disappoint. First with Irfan Pathan, then with MS Dhoni and finally with number 10 batsman RP Singh, the Hyderabad batsman put together valuable runs. He scored 79 runs and was the highest scorer in India’s second innings, setting a target of 413 runs. Pathan’s two wickets late in the day wrapped up a satisfying day for the Indians.

On Day 4, Ishant Sharma, who has been troubling Australian captain Ricky Ponting, got him out – caught by Rahul Dravid. Ponting’s wicket opened the floodgates and the Australians were reduced to 177 runs for the loss of 5 wickets from a comfortable 117-2. Sehwag picked up Adam Gilchrist’s and Brett Lee’s wickets. But Michael Clarke was still going strong at one end and the Indians knew that they could not take anything for granted. When Michael Clark was finally stumped by Dhoni off Kumble’s bowling, the Indians sensed a famous win.

A 73-run partnership for the 9th wicket between Mitchell Johnson and Stuart Clark could only delay the inevitable. It was Pathan, again – who had already put in a very good all-round performance in the match – who got the breakthrough and captured Stuart Clark caught behind the wicket.

India’s 72-run win broke a sequence of 16 consecutive Test wins for Australia, dating back to the Boxing Day Test in 2005. It’s the second time India have played spoilsport to Australia’s 16-match winning spree – in Kolkata in 2001, they had beaten Steve Waugh’s team by 171 runs.

This is the first Test win by a team from the subcontinent in Perth.

INDIA 330 (98.2 OVERS) (First Innings)
Rahul Dravid 93, Sachin Tendulkar 71| Mitchell Johnson 4/86(28.2)
AUSTRALIA 212 (50 OVERS) (First Innings)
Andrew Symonds 66, Adam Gilchrist 55| RP Singh 4/68(14)
INDIA 294(80.4 OVERS) (Second Innings)
VVS Laxman 79, Irfan Pathan 46| Stuart Clark 4/61(19)
AUSTRALIA 340 (86.5 OVERS) (Second Innings)
Michael Clarke 81, Mitchell Johnson* 50 | Irfan Pathan 3/54(16)
Player of the match – Irfan Pathan

#19 New Zealand vs India, 1st Test at Hamilton, Mar 2009 (Captain: M S Dhoni) (Series result: India won the 3 match series 1-0)

Sachin Tendulkar

It had been 33 years since India won a Test match in New Zealand. The pitch had some spice, but not enough to make it unplayable. A brave decision at the toss by Mahendra Singh Dhoni to bowl first when the conventional wisdom would have suggested ‘batting first, surviving the first session, and making merry.

Zaheer Khan using the away-going delivery and Ishant Sharma with the wind behind were making the ball move dangerously. Then there was Munaf Patel bowling into the wind, giving nothing away, playing the third pace bowler’s role to perfection. There was some grass, allowing some movement, but it was a true pitch.

At 60 for 6, there was a fairly good chance of New Zealand being bowled out for less than 100 on a pitch that would ease out after the first session. Ryder was 12 when New Zealand lost their sixth wicket, Vettori down at No. 8, the captain was forced to take extra responsibility. Scored his third century, and the first as captain. Ryder’s century didn’t come without drama. From 77 to 98 he moved in Iain O’Brien’s company, and scored the next four in the unreliable company of Chris Martin. Finally, he reached the century with a short-arm pull, with a spread-out field. Followed by his dismissal next ball.

And out came Virender Sehwag, and crashed five boundaries in 18 deliveries to set up another potentially exciting day.

The second day had few surprises, but nevertheless it kept the spectator involved. The batsmen were prepared to not play at balls outside off stump. The bowlers realized wickets were not easy to get and were prepared to toil according to their fields.

That said, had Virender Sehwag not got out early – and it needed an almost freakish direct hit – we could have been in for a completely different day. Between them Gambhir and Dravid took singles and wore the bowlers down. At the end of the day they were just one run behind New Zealand’s 279, with six wickets in hand.

Tendulkar was not completely authoritative when he took guard at Seddon Park. All along, the runs kept coming, through cannily placed singles and gorgeous boundaries alike. He took the attack to the bowlers under overcast skies early in the morning on Day 3. The cuts, the glances, the straight-drives, the cover-drives, inspired awe. Tendulkar was also involved in a 115-run stand with MS Dhoni, Thanks largely to Tendulkar’s 160 and with Gambhir, Rahul Dravid and Zaheer scoring fifties, India managed their first 500-plus score in New Zealand.

Needing 241 to make India bat again, New Zealand kept losing wickets at regular intervals after a 68-run second wicket stand between Daniel Flynn and debutant Martin Guptill. New Zealand just about managed to avoid the innings defeat, getting bowled out for 279. Harbhajan was at the forefront, remained persistent, varying his pace as opposed to quickening it, and utilized the minimal rough that was available to him. His figures were 6 for 63.

India just took 32 balls to knock off the 39 runs needed, Gautam Gambhir and Rahul Dravid finished things off with a flurry off fours. One more jinx ended by an Indian team. India won the game by 10 wickets.

MATCH SUMMARY: (Seddon Park)
NEW ZEALAND 279 (78.2 OVERS) (First Innings)
Daniel Vettori 118, Jesse Ryder 102 | Ishant Sharma 4/73(19.2), Munaf Patel 3/60(18)
INDIA 520 (152.4 OVERS) (First Innings)
Sachin Tendulkar 160, Gautam Gambhir 72 | Chris Martin 3/98(30)
NEW ZEALAND 279(102.3 OVERS) (Second Innings)
Brendon McCullum 84, Daniel Flynn 67| Harbhajan Singh 6/63(28)
INDIA 39/0 (5.2 OVERS) (Second Innings)
Gautam Gambhir* 30 (18)
Player of the match – Sachin Tendulkar

#20 South Africa vs India , 2nd Test at Durban, Dec 2010 (Captain: M S Dhoni) (Series result: Drawn 1-1 )

Harbhajan Singh , Sachin Tendulkar and Zaheer Khan

India were lagging in the series and were literally annihilated during the first Test in Centurion. The home side elected to field first on a tough pitch. It was as green as, it was talked up to be. The psychological mind- games reached their climax when Allan Donald said the pitch looked “exactly the same” as the one on which India were shot out for 66 and 100 in 1996. It was a surface that the bowlers would have relished bowling on.

Durban is known for swing and Dale Steyn showed his ability to move the ball away from the first over and exploited the conditions to his advantage. Every Indian batsman in the top order showed the restraint and application to face up to the challenge in front, but they all found ways to not convert those starts.

Rahul Dravid and VVS Laxman came together to steady India and it was up to Steyn to intervene again. Everyone got into double-digits but the highest score was VVS Laxman’s 38. India all out for a paltry score of 205 courtesy a six-wicket haul from Steyn.

In reply, the visitors once again surprised the hosts with a spirited bowling performance. Zaheer might have taken only three wickets, but he lead the bowling attack, using the rare combination of skill and that shrewd bowling brain. South Africa might have thought that the Turbanator Harbhajan would be ineffective on this tour, but he proved them wrong in an emphatic fashion. Cleaned them for mere 131 runs.

The second innings too didn’t go well for India as they were reduced to 56/4 but VVS Laxman put his hands up and played an excellent knock. He scored 96 runs and was well supported by some decent lower order contributions. After this 96 – the second-best score so far in this Test is 38, also by him. It wouldn’t be an exaggeration to say that, under pressure, he is one of the best in the world in this era.

South Africa was set a stiff target of 303 runs as India was bowled out for 228 in their second essay. The match was even at the start of the fourth day but India’s bowlers barely sent down a bad ball in the morning session to seize control of the Test. South Africa had lost three wickets, and there was still no boundary in the morning, a testament to the scarcity of bad deliveries.

At 155 for 7, with lunch 45 minutes away, the game looked set for a quick finish. Prince and Morne Morkel then stood firm for an hour, reducing the required runs to double digits. India’s wait seemed to have ended when Ishant Sharma got Morkel edge off to Dhoni. Cheteshwar Pujara then produced a fine fielding effort at forward short leg, running out the last man.

India came into this Test with their No. 1 status questioned after the clobbering in Centurion and doubts over whether they had the bowling to take 20 wickets. They provided answers to both in Durban. India reiterated that they are no longer poor travelers by pulling off a series-leveling win in Durban, the scene of one of their worst Test defeats in 1996.

MATCH SUMMARY: (Kingsmead)
INDIA 205 (65.1 OVERS) (First Innings)
VVS Laxman 38, MS Dhoni 35 | Dale Steyn 6/50(19)
SOUTH AFRICA 131 (37.2 OVERS) (First Innings)
Hashim Amla 33 | Harbhajan Singh 4/10(7.2), Zaheer Khan 3/36(13)
INDIA 228 (70.5 OVERS) (Second Innings)
VVS Laxman 96, Virender Sehwag 32| Morne Morkel 3/47(15)
SOUTH AFRICA215 (72.3 OVERS) (Second Innings)
Ashwell Prince* 39 |Sreesanth 3/45(14), Zaheer Khan 3/57(17)
Player of the match – VVS Laxman

#21 England v India , 2nd Test at London, Jul 2014 (Captain: M S Dhoni) (Series result: England won the 5 match series 3-1)

MS Dhoni, Ajinkya Rahane & Ishant Sharma

England got the pitch they wanted, and won the toss. India were staring down a sinister Lord’s green-top. Batting first, India were reduced to 145/7, then came Ajinkya Rahane to bail the visitors out. His dominant innings finally rewarded a day of hard labors. A display of dancing eyes and neat footwork, constituted an exceptional counter-attacking hundred from Ajinkya Rahane (103).

England, at one stage, would never have envisaged taking the second new ball. But they grabbed it with apprehension at 223 for 7. Bhuvneshwar Kumar’s solid support in an eighth-wicket stand of 90 runs was ended by Broad, but by the time Rahane fell to Anderson, 20 balls from the close, India felt the more contented of the sides. India managed 295 in their first innings.

On a pitch that has eased out considerably since the day one, India’s quicks were showing the they knew how to bowl best on this pitch. They were full, at the stumps, and had given only a few easy runs. Bhuvneshwar Kumar has been exceptional using the slope well, bowling outswingers to batsmen before testing them with the other one, once in a while. There was decent support from the other end from Mohammed Shami. Ishant Sharma also generated some heat, and asked questions to batsmen, making the ball hold its line against the slope. Bhuvneshwar Kumar (36) played a big role in the first innings with the bat when he played second fiddle to Rahane but stunned the English men in their own backyard with some quality swing bowling claiming 6 wickets.

England bettered India’s first innings score with a vital 24 run lead thanks to a Gary Ballance ton. India had a point to prove in the second innings. Murali Vijay came out with a gutsy 95 but lack of support from the other end meant that India were reduced to 235/7 before Ravindra Jadeja and Bhuvneswhar Kumar turned things around in one of the best counter-attacking partnerships of the decade. The duo added 99 runs for the 8th wicket thanks to boundary laden 57-ball 68 from Jadeja.

Suddenly, the target for England had climbed up to 319 with India right back in the game. The hosts had been reduced to 72/4 when Joe Root and Moeen Ali joined forces to frustrate India. They added 101 runs for the fifth wicket. Dhoni had to convince Ishant Sharma to bowl bouncers at the England batsmen after they had blunted India’s plan A.

Ishant Sharma started to bounce out Moeen Ali. He used the same tactics for the rest of the batsmen with cover on the leg side fence but every man up in the 30-yard circle on the offside. Who would’ve imagined an India pacer trouble English batsmen with bounce and pace on their own turf? The move paid off and Ishant Sharma returned with figures of 7/74 to help India stage a brilliant victory by 95 runs.

MS Dhoni’s team India had completed a Test match victory at the Mecca of cricket after 28 long years.

INDIA 295 (91.4 OVERS) (First Innings)
Ajinkya Rahane 103, Bhuvneshwar Kumar 36 | James Anderson 4/60(23)
ENGLAND 319 (105.5 OVERS) (First Innings)
Gary Ballance 110, Liam Plunkett* 55 | Bhuvneshwar Kumar 6/82(31)
INDIA 342 (103.1 OVERS) (Second Innings)
Murli Vijay 95, Ravindra Jadeja 68| Ben Stokes 3/51(18.1)
ENGLAND 223 (88.2 OVERS) (Second Innings)
Joe Root 66, Moen Ali 39 | Ishant Sharma 7/74(23)
Player of the match – Ishant Sharma

#22 South Africa vs India , 3rd Test at Johannesburg , Jan 2018 (Captain: Virat Kohli) (Series result: South Africa won the 3 match series 2-1)

India made the bold move of batting first on a green pitch with a lot of seam movement. Despite all the pressure their batting has been under, they would have hoped for a lot of grit and a bit of luck to ride out these tough conditions. On what was not the prettiest day of Test cricket, Pujara and Kohli showed plenty of grit.

With so much seam movement available, you had to either wait for a rank delivery or take the risk of going after decent ones. Pujara took the first route. India’s captain took the other route. He showed more urgency, nailing drives every time a ball presented itself for the shot. There was nothing half-hearted.

It looked good for South Africa. Five fast bowlers on a green top under cloud cover at the Wanderers, allowed first use of conditions by the opposition captain. And they got India all out for 187 before the first day has ended. South Africa were 6 for 1.

The Wanderers Test on day 2 became, an one-innings shootout on a treacherous surface. Hashim Amla put on a clinic on how to bat on a tough pitch, he got support in the form of 30s from nightwatchman Kagiso Rabada and Vernon Philander. It was Ishant who broke the threatening partnership between Amla and Rabada minutes before lunch. Japsrit Bumrah and Bhuvneshwar Kumar combined to keep the first-innings deficit down to seven. In Bhuvneshwar’s first spell of 6-5-1-1, a wicket seemed likelier to arrive than a run.

A quick 16 from Parthiv Patel in the second innings and then, KL Rahul and M Vijay batted assuredly. India had their noses well ahead, ending the day 42 ahead with nine wickets in hand.

Virat Kohli, Ajinkya Rahane and M Vijay batted out of their skins, putting behind them the blows they took from the inconsistent and exaggerated bounce, going through periods of excessive seam movement, putting every scoring opportunity away. The lower order, led by Bhuvneshwar Kumar with a composed 33 and Mohammed Shami with a whirlwind 27

Vijay was hit five times in the first session, Kohli wore one length ball on his glove, and Rahane was hit on his bare back elbow. India were not bothered. They had their eye on the prize.The pitch has usually been at its worst in the first hour of each day; on the third day it was also dangerous. Vijay bore most of the brunt. Kohli, at the other end, got into better positions to attack. For the bowlers, there was a difficulty too, it seamed too much, and the ball often missed the edges.

South Africa were supposed to bat for 65 minutes before stumps, but the day’s play did not get that far, One blow too many to the batsmen, though, forced the umpires to take the players off the field with South Africa 17 for 1 chasing an improbable 241.

The visitors were efficient and ruthless even as Elgar and Hashim Amla went more than half the day without losing a wicket and added 119 of the 241 required for the second wicket. India waited and waited for the first breakthrough without giving away free runs, and once the wicket came they swooped in on the kill. The last nine wickets fell for 53 runs.

Ishant Sharma began the slide, his victims were Amla and Faf du Plessis. Jasprit Bumrah was equally impressive in his nine-over spell that followed up with wickets of AB de Villiers and Quinton de Kock. Mohammed Shami with quick, full and accurate bowling to ran through the tail.

This was one of India’s great wins in Test cricket as they came here beleaguered, having lost the series, and were presented with a treacherous surface. Made the bold move of batting first, batted with extreme courage and determination (with contributions all around, including a couple of 30s from Bhuvneshwar Kumar).

Most importantly, the joy they felt at this win – led by captain Kohli – in a format fighting for survival shows at least Indian Test cricket is in good hands.

MATCH SUMMARY: (Wanderers Stadium)
INDIA 187 (76.4 OVERS) (First Innings)
Virat Kohli 54, Cheteshwar Pujara 50 | Kagiso Rabada 3/39(18.4)
SOUTH AFRICA 194 (65.5 OVERS) (First Innings)
Hashim Amla 61 | Jaspreet Bumrah 5/54(18.5) Bhuvneshwar Kumar 3/44(19)
INDIA 247 (80.1 OVERS) (Second Innings)
Ajinkya Rahane 48, Virat Kohli 41| Morne Morkel 3/47(21)
SOUTH AFRICA 177 (73.3 OVERS) (Second Innings)
Dean Elgar 86, Hashim Amla 52 | Mohammad Shami 5/28
Player of the match – Bhuvneshwar Kumar

#23 England vs India , 3rd Test at Nottingham, Aug 2018 (Captain: Virat Kohli) (Series result: England won the 5 match series 4-1)

India two down in the series, their batting under the scanner, asked to bat by England captain Joe Root on a slow and dry pitch, were confronted with the now or never. The surface offered seam movement and, in due course, may well assist reverse-swing. India’s batsmen showed patience, composure and a renewed vigor. The first impact was the 60-run opening partnership between Shikhar Dhawan and KL Rahul.

All India’s batsmen played shots more in front of square, both on the front and the back foot. The backbone of the India innings was the 159-run fourth-wicket partnership between Kohli and Rahane. As the clouds cleared and Trent Bridge bristled under bright sunshine, India’s best pair of batsmen took advantage of a slow and dry pitch with low bounce. Although both batsmen missed out on centuries. Rishabh Pant become the fifth-youngest wicketkeeper to play Test cricket for India. The debutant punched his first delivery in Test cricket aggressively and lofted the next one for a six.

Despite a start of 46 for 0 before lunch, and having taken India’s four standing wickets for 22 before that. Pandya, Ishant and Bumrah combined to bowl England out in a session. England crashed to a 168-run deficit thanks to that disastrous session. Admirably, Pandya sustained the discipline and kept pressure on England ball after ball and completed his five-wicket haul. It is the second quickest five-wicket haul by an India bowler.

With the mind free and under no pressure, against a demoralized bowling attack, India went on to unleash their range of stroke-play to take their lead to 292.

The third day had begun with India ahead, KL Rahul and Shikhar Dhawan had already scored comfortable runs on the second evening. It was the turn of Pujara and the rest. Virat Kohli brought up a comfortable century, Cheteshwar Pujara found some form, and Hardik Pandya added a run-a-ball fifty. India batted England into the ground. With two days still to go, India batted to their heart’s content, taking the lead to 520 before giving England nine overs to bat in the evening. Cook and Jennings managed to survive.

The ball was new. Ishant Sharma had sent back the England openers, making use of the cloudy morning. India now wanted England captain Joe Root. Bumrah was the man Virat Kohli was looking to. Eventually Bumrah lured Root into playing at a seaming-away delivery that took a thick edge into KL Rahul’s hands at second slip. Jos Buttler and Ben Stokes found some belated fight for England.

With the second new ball, though, questions re-emerged for the batsmen. Bumrah trapped Butler lbw. Jonny Bairstow walked out and got an unplayable delivery first up, which held its line to beat the outside edge and hit the top of off. Chris Woakes survived the hat-trick ball, but he fell to a bouncer.

It took India 17 balls on the final morning to take the last wicket and wrap up their seventh Test win in England, an utter domination of the hosts from the moment India were inserted on day one.

The batsmen stepped up to give their bowlers something to bowl at. And how the bowlers responded. Hardik Pandya took a five-for in the space of 29 balls in the first innings, and then Jasprit Bumrah laid to waste the hard work done by Jos Buttler and Ben Stokes in the second with a spell of high pace and control. Bumrah became the third Indian fast bowler, after Ishant and Hardik Pandya to pick up a five-for in this series. It’s an unprecedented feat for as many Indian bowlers to pick up five-fors in a series in England. The fast bowlers took every wicket in the third Test barring the last one – which fell to R Ashwin.

MATCH SUMMARY: (Trent Bridge)
INDIA 329 (94.5 OVERS) (First Innings)
Virat Kohli 97, Ajinkya Rahane 81 | James Anderson 3/64(25.5)
ENGLAND 161 (38.2 OVERS) (First Innings)
Jos Butler 39 | Hardik Pandya 5/28(6)
INDIA 352 (80.1 OVERS) (Second Innings)
Cheteshwar Pujara 72, Virat Kohli 103| Adil Rashid 3/101(27)
SOUTH AFRICA 317 (104.5 OVERS) (Second Innings)
Jos Butler 106, Ben Stokes 62 | Jaspreet Bumrah 5/85 (29)
Player of the match – Virat Kohli

#24 Australia vs India , First Test at Adelaide , Dec 2018 (Captain: Virat Kohli) (Series result: India won the 4 match series 2-1 )

Cheteshwar Pujara

This series was much about the aggression on display. India’s top order provided plenty in the first session. Australia took advantage of some reckless stroke-play to have them four down shortly after drinks on day one. Before Cheteshwar Pujara showed the value of patience in waiting for the ball to soften and bowlers to tire. Pujara was rewarded with a magnificent 16th Test hundred. This 246-ball innings was his longest in Australia.

He could not quite make it to stumps, though, as a brilliant direct hit from Pat Cummins found him short with what became the last ball of the day. Thanks to Pujara’s masterclass of playing pace and the threatening spin of Nathan Lyon, India’s end-of-day position of 9 for 250 was better than appeared likely after the early carelessness.

R Ashwin’s skill and Travis Head’s patience headlined the next day. Old-school Test cricket made the Adelaide Test fascinatingly poised. Runs came in a trickle for Australia – their run rate of 2.17. But Head was simply immovable. A few nervous moments were negotiated to the close, but Head’s resourcefulness allowed the Australian innings to creep into the third day with some chance still of overhauling India.

The scoreline and history was firmly against Australia at the end of the third day in Adelaide with India having forged a lead of 166. In a compelling final session, Virat Kohli and Cheteshwar Pujara, who was continuing a personal tour de force, put together a stand of 71 and despite Kohli’s late dismissal to Nathan Lyon India remained in a position to bat the home side out of the match.

India had enjoyed an excellent morning, with their overnight batsmen Pujara and Rahane negotiating the first hour in fuss-free fashion. Cheteshwar Pujara continued from his masterclass in the first innings and Ajinkya Rahane progressed to a busy fifty. Never before have India won the opening Test of a series in Australia – they had lost nine of their 11 previous first Tests in the country. They took a step closer to making history on the fourth day, despite losing their last five wickets for 25 runs.

R Ashwin and Mohammed Shami turned the screws on Australia in their daunting chase of 323 at the Adelaide Oval.

Australia resumed the final day on 4 for 104, still needing a distant 219. Quicks led the way on the final day for India. Breaking through each time a partnership was threatening to develop, with Jasprit Bumrah providing the bulk of the key moments. But Australia’s last wicket pair of Nathan Lyon and Josh Hazlewood got it down to needing 32 to win when, on the brink of a delayed tea, Hazlewood drove at R Ashwin and edged low to second slip.

A nerve-jangling Test match. India secured their first Test victory in Australia since 2008 and lead a series in the country for only the second time after a gripping 31-run win in Adelaide.

Virat Kohli became the first Indian – and Asian – captain to win at least one Test in South Africa, England and Australia.

MATCH SUMMARY: (Adelaide Oval)
INDIA 250(88 OVERS) (First Innings)
Cheteshwar Pujara 123 | Josh Hazlewood 3/52(20)
AUSTRALIA 235(98.4 OVERS) (First Innings)
Travis Head 72 | Ravichandran Ashwin 3/57(34), Jasprit Bumrah 3/47(24)
INDIA 307(106.5 OVERS) (Second Innings)
Cheteshwar Pujara 71, Ajinkya Rahane 70 | Nathan Lyon 6/122(42)
AUSTRALIA 291 (119.5 OVERS) (Second Innings)
Shaun Marsh 60 | Jasprit Bumrah 3/68(24, Mohammed Shami 3/65(20)
Player of the match – Cheteshwar Pujara

#25 Australia vs India , 3rd Test at Melbourne, Dec 2018 (Captain: Virat Kohli) (Series result: India won the 4 match series 2-1 )

J Bumrah & V Kohli

There was much interest in the toss, with 10 mm of grass left on the surface, enough to urge Tim Paine to consider bowling. But the coin fell India’s way and Kohli opted to bat. After the challenges of Adelaide, and especially Perth, MCG’s pitch was a more docile affair for the batsmen, and India took advantage, moving to 2 for 215 on the back of a fine debut by Mayank Agarwal, followed up by solid work from Cheteshwar Pujara and Virat Kohli.

On day 2 the bowlers found no real purchase – barring occasional uneven bounce – from the MCG surface, India continued their batting dominance, consolidating their overnight position before declaring just under half an hour from stumps. India rode on the back of a 170-run third-wicket stand between Virat Kohli and Cheteshwar Pujara – the overnight pair batted out the first session – before useful contributions from the middle order took them to 443 for 7. Their bowlers then tested Australia’s openers for the last six overs of the day.

After two days of attritional batting, Jasprit Bumrah showed that bowlers had a place on this seemingly flat MCG surface, displaying outstanding mastery of skills in a career-best 6 for 33 to send Australia packing for 151. It was the standout performance on a third day that overturned much of what had been previously said about this Test.

On an unpredictable surface, it was a critical opening for the skillful Bumrah to disarm the batsmen with pace and variety. Brilliant as Bumrah were all India’s bowlers, while Australia were plagued by a dearth of batsmen who could hang in at the crease.

It gave India a 292-run first-innings lead – one that wins you Test matches more often than not. However India decided against the follow-on, presumably to avoid the prospect of batting last. And came out looking to play their shots, and kept finding the fielders. It meant Pat Cummins, by light years Australia’s best player in this match. By stumps, India had lost five of their top six, but, most crucially, had a lead touching 350.

Australia’s middle order resisted longer than they had in the first innings, but it was yet another day of getting in only to get out. Australia had managed to take the match into the final day. Pat Cummins stood as the only considerable obstacle in India’s push for a 2-1 lead before the Sydney Test.

Jasprit Bumrah claimed his ninth wicket of the match, the first India quick to reach such heights in Australia, when Pat Cummins’ fine innings ended with a catch to first slip. Then in the next over, Ishant Sharma found Nathan Lyon’s top edge as he hooked and with that, it was all over. India won by 137 runs. The Border-Gavaskar trophy has been retained, a wonderful end to 2018 for India.

MATCH SUMMARY: (Melbourne Cricket Ground)
INDIA 443/7d (169.4 OVERS) (First Innings)
Cheteshwar Pujara 106, Virat Kohli 82 | Pat Cummins 3/72(34)
AUSTRALIA 151 (66.5 OVERS) (First Innings)
Tim Paine 22 (85) | Jasprit Bumrah 6/33(15.5)
INDIA 106/8d (37.3OVERS) (Second Innings)
Mayank Agarwal 42 | Pat Cummins 6/27(11)
AUSTRALIA 261 (89.3 OVERS) (Second Innings)
Pat Cummins 63 | Jasprit Bumrah 3/53(19), Ravindra Jadeja 3/82(32)
Player of the match – Jasprit Bumrah

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