The Border-Gavaskar Memories
Note: The views of author are personal
India retains the Border Gavaskar trophy with an 2–1 emphatic series win against Aussies for the 7th time. The rivalry between the two nations has witnessed the most competitive test cricket ever played with intense application from both sides. On a personal note for me, #IndvsAus remains the most exciting contest ever over #IndvsPak and the historical Ashes. For over-enthusiastic cricket fans like me, cricket has been more than a game as I grew up in 1990s and 2000s witnessing the best of the cricket and fell in love with it. Here’s my series-wise memories with the Border-Gavaskar Trophy over 20 years..
1996 and 1998 Editions
I was very young when these two series happened and never watched them. Both these editions were won by Mohammed Azhar led India at 1–0 and 2–1 respectively. I did watch the highlights of 1998 series later on ESPN when Sachin Tendulkar unleashed an onslaught against Shane Warne and notched centuries. Those were the days when people thronged around transistors for score updates.
1999 Australia Series — The Nightmare!
The Sachin-led under-nourished Indian team suffered a humiliating 3–0 loss in Australia in the 1999 Summer. I started following cricket right then and was quite disappointed to see the lack of co-ordination in the team and the poor fielding. I would still remember people putting alarms and getting up early in the morning to see 5:30AM telecasts on Star Sports. The high point of this series was an invincible 167 by Hyderabad boy VVS Laxman in Sydney who went on to become the batsman Aussies feared the most. I never felt Sachin made a good captain as he is a person who demands a lot from each player and puts a lot of pressure on himself. Again, this is a personal opinion. Good, he made way for Dada to arrive.
2001 — Cremating the Australian ego
In many ways, 2000 is a special year for Indian cricket. It saw the arrival of the Prince “Sourav Chandidas Ganguly” who took over the reins as Indian Cricket Captain. Dada changed the way the billion people nation played cricket. He brought aggression and cohesion into the team. He didn’t shy away giving it back to the opposition. Both with the mouth and the bat! The 2001 edition saw the Dada led spirited India team clinch a masterful 2–1 victory over the supremely talented Aussie team high on a 16 consecutive test victories. There were many historical moments in this series.
The test match at Kolkata had so much to feast for the Indian fans as the duo of Rahul Dravid and Laxman went on to slaughter Australian bowling attack. Laxman and Dravid went on to score 281 and 180 respectively as India defeated Australia by 171 runs after being enforced a follow-on.
The series also saw the birth of Harbhajan Singh as a frontline spin bowler who clinched 32 wickets in 3 matches including a hat-trick in Kolkata. After a close contest in Chennai which India won by 2 wickets, India retained the trophy. VVS Laxman rose as a batsman scoring 503 runs in the series. India breathed fire and told the world that Aussies are just another team. Australian team was exposed in various methods with their inability to play spin and bat in flat and turning tracks. In those days, DD National would telecast the matches in India and there was no Mayanti Langer to keep you motivated to watch the match. But that was how cricket was enjoyed in this nation. Raw and unbridled!
2003- Banging the Aussies at their backyard
2003 December and it was time for another edition in the warm summer in Australia. Australia was unmatched World Champions of the game and was a feared contender. After a rain-washed match at Gabba which witnessed a masterful 144 by Ganguly featuring a flurry of off side shots, the action shifted to Adelaide where Dravid and Laxman sealed the deal for India again with a brilliant partnership as India won in Australia comprehensively. After a bitter defeat in Melbourne which was historically a bad venue for India in-spite of an ruthless 195 by Sehwag, the contest was set-up in Sydney. India again had an upper hand through entire test match and almost went on to win the match if not for a match saving innings by the legendary Steve Waugh who also retired from cricket after the match. This was the first time I started waking up in the morning to watch cricket matches on Star Sports. But I could only watch it till lunch break at 7:30AM as I had to leave for school. I would carry a small transistor and listen in breaks till 1PM when match would end. I would come back and watch highlights on ESPN later. It was one of the first times I witnessed the fluid commentary of Harsha Bhogle too.
India retained the trophy as the series was levelled at 1–1.
2004 — Aussies taste victory on Indian soil
The drought ended for Aussies in sub-continent as an Adam Gilchrist led Aussie side won its first series in India and regained the trophy. The series saw a batting failure from the Indian team who were going through a lean patch in 2004. Apart from a 155 from Virender Sehwag in Chennai to draw the match, there weren’t any noteworthy contributions. After Australia won the series 2–0, the final match in Mumbai was another comeback by India. In a rain washed low scoring match, India bowled out the Aussies for 93 runs who were chasing a target of 107. Murali Karthik grabbed 6 wickets as India redeemed the pain to some extent. Telecast of this series moved to private channels and more technology came into the game.
2008 — The Memorable Summer for Indians
After a considerable gap, India toured Australia under the legend Anil Kumble. After a bad defeat in Melbourne, India lost an extremely controversial Test match in Sydney. In what can be said as an outright umpiring failure by duo of Mark Benson and Steve Bucknor, Australia showed its poor standards of playing the game by resisting dismissals. The one where Ricky Ponting claimed the dismissal of Ganguly when Clarke floored the catch is one searing example of their lack of ethics into the game.
Even though Australia is touted to play the game with great application and technique, their approach to the gentleman game has been quite questionable. They sledge the opposition. They resist and challenge decisions which are clearly against them and tamper methods of playing the game. After all, they come from the lineage of prisoners of British Empire! The match also saw a big controversy emerge between Symonds and Harbhajan over racist comments. India lost the match in a fashion where 10 decisions went against India despite spirited batting and bowling performances. India took its pound of Kangaroo flesh with a splendid victory in Perth where Indian bowlers RP Singh, Ishant Sharma and Irfan Pathan breathed fire. Australia was beaten on their face in an excessive bouncy track in the WACA at Perth.
After a flat draw in Adelaide which also saw a brilliant 151 and 155 by Sehwag and Sachin respectively, Australia regained the series 2–1. Everybody threw mud on the Aussies for their behaviour and ICC had to intervene. I always believe Australia is a great nation to play with but then if you are unethical, we need to reconsider our thoughts. India went on to the win the tri-nation CB Series later in the summer which told who was the better team. The telecast this time was on a dedicated cricket channel called Star Cricket which had action about game all day. I was in Pre-University college and would sneak into a neighbouring shop during college breaks to watch the match. I still love the way you could sit and watch all cricket in the dedicated channel all day. Don’t know why it is discontinued now! These were the days when we would sit and analyse and discuss about cricket. Sachin fans are unreasonable and don’t quite accept anything negative about him. I loved watching Sehwag and then waited for Laxman and Dravid to arrive. Kumble is my all time favorite bowler though who ended his career at a high of 619 wickets the most by any Indian.
2008 — The Indian Supremacy
After a brief gap, Australia returned to India for another edition. Indian cricket was quite revamped. The bowling quality improved especially the pace and the batting had more technique. Indians beat Australia comprehensively in Mohali and Nagpur which were sharp and one-sided innings defeats. The draw in Ferozshah Kotla was also a one side affair also barring the rain affected Bangalore test. India regained the trophy with 2–0 victory and exposed yet another Aussie team suffering from its inability to play quality cricket. The Australians could not handle spin yet again and could not match the batting performances of the Indians in fair conditions. Ishant Sharma was the pick of the bowlers with 15 scalps.
The series saw the retirement of two Indian legends — Sourav Ganguly and Anil Kumble who were terrific captains and greats in their respective departments. The series saw all Indian batsman in form led by Tendulkar. More technology entered cricket by then and more perspectives crept into the game. The telecast this time was on a glitzy Neo Cricket which was pretty much like Star Cricket. I was in BITS Pilani then and had the liberty to watch cricket for a good amount of time in between classes. We would watch matches in common rooms and the atmosphere there during winning moments was terrific. It was nice to sit down and discuss the matches on breakfast and lunch tables with BITSian buddies back then. For the first time, I have witnessed the kind of love Sachin Tendulkar enjoyed as a cricketer.
2010 — More power to Indians
2010 saw a quickie quick Indian edition of the trophy. India was the №1 Test team by then in an invincible form at home and away. The MS Dhoni led Indian team crushed Australia to a 2–0 defeat at home retaining the trophy with inspiring wins at Bangalore and Mohali. Young blood slowly started replacing the legends in the team and the series saw the heroics of Ojha, Pujara, Gambhir and Vijay. The victory at Mohali was quite a close one as India clinched a one-wicket victory in a thriller. It was a beautiful winter in BITS back then and I remember the atmosphere with which we watched the match. Nostalgic!. NEO Cricket was the saviour this time around and the my knowledge about game improved considerably by then. There was hot-spot, ball-tracking and DRS which changed the way game was played. Facebook has just then arrived and people would express all that they could. Glamour was well mixed with cricket as people discussed the cricket anchor Archana Vijaya equally with centuries and wickets.
2012 — The Aussie Redemption
2012 was a sort of redemption for the Aussies after a string of losses as they whitewashed India for 4–0 at home. It was another bad outing for the Indians on the pacy and bouncy pitches. The summer trauma continued with an elimination from the tri-nation ODI series as well. Players like David Warner, Micheal Clarke and Ben Hilfenhaus were in terrific form. Indian players had sub-standard batting and bowling performances apart from Virat Kohli who started consolidating his presence in world cricket. I couldn’t catch much of this series live and would often watch catch highlights. I had this sentiment that India would play well if I watched the matches and blamed the loss flatly on that :P
2013 — The Indian Payback
We Indians don’t keep anything with ourselves. We pay it back with love. 2013 edition saw India payback the trauma to the Aussies with full interest. The Micheal clarke led Aussie side was whitewashed and dried in the Indian sun by the Dhoni boys in a crushing and humiliating 4–0 defeat. The series saw double centuries by Dhoni and Pujara while the spin duo of Ashwin and Jadeja ripped apart the Australian batting with a bunch of 5 wicket hauls. Pujara rose as India’s most trusted batsman stepping into the shoes of Rahul Dravid. Australia once again showed its inability to play spin as India roared like tigers at home. It would not be an overstatement to call India as the toughest country to tour overseas with extreme weather conditions, uneven turn and bounce and home grown cricketers in rich resources. I was in Bangalore working in an internship during this series and would catch the live action while working in office on websites like espncricinfo.com and cricbuzz.com. Post the day’s work I would catch the highlights and would spend weekends watching matches ball by ball. Youtube was another big tool for people to watch matches as there live webcast of matches by BCCI. The social media conversations intensified also as Twitter was a new junkyard to place one’s thoughts
2014 — Aussies in the end
BCCI has ingenious ways of organising tours to countries which are world cup venues just before the tournaments and I believe this edition is one such idea. The Steve Smith led Aussie side clinched a 2–0 victory over an Indian team fairly young and inexperienced. What was good about the Indian team was the way they drew matches in Melbourne and Sydney very skillfully. It was a bit unlucky to lose the match in Adelaide closely which would have otherwise been a close victory. The series saw the rise of Virat Kohli as a world class batsman who scored 692 runs in the series while pacer Mohammed Shami did the damage with the ball. The Aussie skipper Steve Smith was in a terrific form as he went to make 769 runs in the tournaments. The series was historic in many ways as MS Dhoni bid good bye after Melbourne test leaving the ground as the most successful Indian Test skipper.
Australian opener Phil Hughes passed away after an injury in county match and was named 13th man as a mark of honor. It was heart-touching to see people unite to pay tribute to the departed soul and also call for more safety in the game. This series was a junkyard of tussles as players from both sides would often hurl abuses in the field with the Johnson- Kohli banter being the most noted sledge-hammer. Cricket was in another dimension all together as their were live ball to ball updates on social media and websites and you could check the score on chirpy mobile apps. At work, this was the saviour as you had to report to work at 10AM before the tea break in Aussie time. It was fun to go to work and follow the match closely with buddies like Pranav Desai who were amazing cricketers themselves. I still remember watching Sydney test’s last overs in a small eatery in JP Nagar, Bangalore amidst the crowd and the atmosphere was electrifying.
2017 —India settles all scores and all answers
As India continues a terrific home season form as World №1 in Tests with resounding series wins against Bangladesh, South Africa, England and New Zealand, Australia arrived in another summer for the latest edition of Border Gavaskar Trophy. The wars weren’t just fought this time on the field but also on Twitter, Websites and Press Conferences. After a humiliating defeat in Pune, the Indians bounced back with a thumping victory in Bangalore. Bangalore witnessed an unmatched performance by India to beat Australia by 74 runs. After a closely fought draw in Ranchi, India bounced back with a brilliant victory in Dharamshala winning by 8 wickets. The series saw Steve Smith in terrific form with bat scoring 3 centuries while India’s Pujara and KL Rahul were terrific. While Aussies found relief in Nathan Lyon’s off breaks, India’s Ashwin and Jadeja did the job of hunting the Australian batting as usual. The Dharamshala test reiterated the standard of Indian cricket as India dismissed Australia for a cheap 137 and chased down 106 without loss. Pacer Umesh Yadav was in terrific form throughout the series providing key breakthroughs. A word of mention to Man of the Series Ravindra Jadeja who became India’s new trusted all rounder picking up 25 wickets.
This series again exposed the pedestrian ethics of Australia with regards to DRS as Steve Smith was caught consulting the dressing room for help. The issue blew out of proportion after both teams and associations had a heated exchange. There were issues over the quality of pitches which offered uneven turn and bounce in Pune and Bangalore. What was debatable was the long boundaries and the excessive bounce back in Australian conditions was never questioned by any team at any point of time. The series also saw heated exchanges between all players with Kohli- Smith and Jadeja- Wade being talked about in media. The Australians inability to play spin continues. Virat Kohli’s captaincy was brilliant with right balance of agression, strategy and team work. The team doesn’t smile back at sledging but gives it back in the way they would understand.
Pujara’s double hundred and Saha’s century in Ranchi were beautiful moments to relive batting at its best. It was a treat to watch KL Rahul with consistent batting display with six half centuries in 7 innings in the series. Cricket viewing is all the more fun now as you can watch it in HD and 4K resolution and Hotstar providing a live-stream. And of course, there is Mayanti Langer too. The conversations on Twitter are all the more heated up and DRS reviews are almost match deciding. What could be noticed is the effort of ICC to revoke and make Test Cricket eternal.
In the end, India retained the ICC Test Championship and №1 Ranking and also holds the record to win a Test series against all Test playing nations.
This series was the most fun to watch with especially with virtual connections over Whatsapp. As the match would go on, we would have discussions over Whatsapp with close buddies Sid Mathur and Nikki Mishra. Later, everybody would flaunt their love on social media.
India is the Border- Gavaskar trophy champions for the 7th time. Indian Cricket is in safe hands abuzz with rich talent!
PS: This article is dedicated to all the loyal and lovely cricket fans of India who love the team and the game unconditionally