India last toured Australia in 2018-19, which involved four Tests, three ODIs and T20Is each. India retained the Border-Gavaskar Test series 2-1, which also happened to be their first series win on Australian soil. They also won the ODI series. The T20I series, however, ended in a 1-1 draw.
It's crucial time ahead for Team India as they embark on another challenging tour of Australia, starting November 27.
The tour would see India take part in three ODIs and T20Is, along with four Tests.
India's last tour Down Under happened in 2018-19, where the sides had a similar schedule. It also happened to be India's most successful tour Down Under to date, as they won the ODIs as well as the Tests. It was their first-ever Test series win in the continent.
Before the action gets underway once again Down Under, let's recall how the team fared during their last visit. We also revisit the thrill Team India produced to clinch their best Test series Down Under ever.
The hype began even before the first ball of the opening Test was bowled. Team India undoubtedly had its best team ever visiting Australia, especially in the longer format.
India already possessed a strong batting line-up. India's pace battery of Jasprit Bumrah, Mohammed Shami, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Ishant Sharma and Umesh Yadav were expected to terrorise the Australian batsmen.
Team India also had potent spinners in its line-up, like Ravichandran Ashwin, Kuldeep Yadav and Ravindra Jadeja.
The Australian team received a shot in the arm with the absence of a couple of their big guns, Steve Smith and David Warner. The two were serving a year ban from Cricket Australia owing to their involvement in the infamous ball-tampering scandal in Cape Town.
Nonetheless, things were not going to be easy, especially with Australia playing at home, as Virat Kohli and co and geared up with their best shot at glory.
As the opening day arrived, it was at the Adelaide Oval, when India decided to bat first at the venue which had subcontinent-like conditions. Unfortunately, tough luck struck as they were skittled for 250, courtesy Josh Hazlewood's three-for. However, India hit back with the ball, dismissing the hosts for 235, as Bumrah and Ashwin claimed three each. Didn't we tell you about sub-continent like conditions?
Interestingly, India bettered its performance with the bat in the following innings, scoring 307. With 322 needed and India in a familiar bowling territory, Australia sure had its task cut out. And, rightfully so, as the Indian bowlers hardly allowed partnerships to be built. It was Bumrah, Ashwin and Shami, whose three-for earned them a 31-run win and a 1-0 lead.
Nonetheless, the Indians refrained from rejoicing as the next stop was Perth -- a known pacers' paradise. Although it was the new Perth stadium, it happened to be the same territory, as the Indians decided to go ahead with an all-out pace attack.
Opting to bat first, the Australians could manage 326, as Ishant Sharma rocked the batting line-up with a four-for. When it was India's turn, they were surprised that the pitch was not as pace-friendly as expected, with Australian spinner Nathan Lyon claiming 5/67, while as India was bundled up for 283.
Nonetheless, the following innings saw Mohammed Shami coming up with a rocking performance, as his 6/65 allowed Australia to be sent packing for 243. However, the Australians entirely demolished the Indians once again, with Nathan Lyon and seamer Mitchell Starc claiming three wickets each. The Australians registered a 146-run win.
Back on level terms and realising their mistake of going all-out with the pace, India were back where they started in terms of strategy. Nonetheless, Kohli held his nerves and chalked out a new plan to topple the hosts again, this time in Melbourne. Electing to bat, Cheteshwar Pujara did the job with the bat, as India posted a respectable total of 443/7.
As the curious Australians came out to bat, they were shattered by Bumrah, whose lethal spell of 6/33 bundled them out at 151. India, however, refused to enforce a follow-on, as they added 106 more as their insurance policy, but lost eight wickets in the process. Nevertheless, the target just lit up the eyes of the Indian pacers, as Bumrah claimed three more, along with Jadeja, while the hosts were dismissed for 261, falling short by 137 runs.
With 2-1 up, this was now the most valuable lead India had ever earned in Test series Down Under and it was India's series to lose now, as they moved to their last stop, in Sydney. Batting first, India hammered the Australians as twin centuries from Pujara and Rishabh Pant propelled them to 622/7. However, the Australians were determined to bounce back, as they managed to score 300, while Kuldeep bagged a five-for. Enforced with follow-on, the Australians looked set for another loss, only for rain to play spoil-sport for the Indians. Nonetheless, it was nothing more than a consolation for the Aussies, as the match ended in a draw.
Not only India won their first-ever series Down Under, but they also became the first Asian team to do so. Truly, Australians felt the pain of missing the services of Smith and Warner. At the same time, Tim Paine's inexperience, followed by Australia's dipping confidence against India's fatal bowling attack, made things worse for them. Consequently, India successfully retained the Border-Gavaskar Trophy.
Here's a short video and a quick look at the entire thrill from 2018-19:
What a series this was! 🏆 #AUSvIND— cricket.com.au (@cricketcomau) November 12, 2020
With the announcement of Australia's squad for the Vodafone Test series against India, re-live the highs and lows of the last Border-Gavaskar Trophy, two years ago. pic.twitter.com/LB19GwEItO
Two years later, it seems to be redemption time for the Kangaroos. Although India have managed to retain the core squad from the previous outing, it would be interesting to see how they work to handle the situation of possibly missing out some of the top guns.
While opener Rohit Sharma seems doubtful, Kohli is all set to miss out after the opening Test, owing to personal issues. Although the Indian bowlers could still make it work, the visitors could fall behind in terms of batting, with wicketkeeper-batsman Wriddhiman Saha, too, being doubtful.
What would be even enjoyable to see is this would India's first international assignment amid the prevailing pandemic. And, with the business being in Australia, India could not have wished for a more formidable challenge to resume their duties.
While India still have the squad to pull it through, Australia have the upper hand, just like India the last time. Furthermore, Smith and Warner are back. So, who is it do you think? Let us know, while we wish both the teams all the best for the task ahead.
Last Updated 14, Nov 2020, 2:47 PM