Yesterday, India beat Australia by 3 wickets after chasing 328 on a Day 5 Gabba track and won the series 2-1. It was truly one of the greatest Test matches ever played; a fitting end to a great series. But in case, you’re wondering, this isn’t the first time the Indian team has done something like this.
FYI, the numbers used below are just serial numbers. The matches have not been ranked.
1. Napier Test VS New Zealand, 2009
Gautam Gambhir batted close to 11 hours and scored 137 off 436 balls to save the Test Match. This was a closely contested series that India won 1-0 after the 3rd Test also went down to the wire. But it was Gambhir’s patient knock that helped India achieve an unlikely draw after India were forced to follow-on due to a huge first innings deficit.
2. Johannesburg Test VS South Africa, 2006
With Rahul Dravid as the captain, this was India’s first Test win in South Africa. India had done so terribly in the ODI series before this that Irfan Pathan had been called back from the tour. Replacing him in the Test team was former skipper Sourav Ganguly making a comeback into the side. Ganguly’s performance, combined with the 8 wickets Sreesanth took on a pacy green wicket, propelled India to a historic win.
3. Perth Test VS Australia, 2008
Following the debacle at Sydney, which saw umpires giving everything in Australia’s favour, India desperately needed to win the Test at Perth. Australia, at the time, had been on a 16 Test winning streak. With nothing going India’s way, the team management decided to drop Harbhajan and get Irfan Pathan for the game.
Dravid and Laxman played their part but it was Pathan who opened the innings, both with the bat and the ball, scoring runs and taking wickets as he helped India break Australia’s streak again.
4. Multan Test VS Pakistan, 2003-04
Who can ever forget Sehwag launching Mushtaq over long-on to get to his 300, the first by an Indian batsman at the time. India comfortably won the match by an innings and 52 runs. In hindsight, this was not that great of a game but the fact was that a touring Indian team did not beat Pakistan in those days. In fact, it took India 50 years to achieve this feat.
5. Adelaide Test VS Australia 2003-04
India had historically been a team that did not start a tour very well. Ganguly’s heroics at the Gabba might have forced a draw but when Ponting and company piled on 556 in the first innings at Adelaide, it seemed like history would repeat itself. To make it worse, India did not have a great start either.
But Dravid and Laxman had other ideas. Dravid blocked and Laxman counter-attacked their way to a 303-run partnership. In the second innings, Ajit Agarkar bagged 6 wickets and dismissed Australia for 196. Dravid batted well in the second innings as well, scoring 72* along with the winning runs.
6. Kolkata Test VS Australia, 2000-01
If this article was rank-based, this Test would be so much higher on the list. This was only the 3rd time in the history of Test cricket that a team had come back after being asked to follow-on and gone on to win a Test. Laxman’s 281 and Dravid’s 180 took the entire 4th day. People, at this point, expected India to play for the draw, but Ganguly had other ideas. On a turning 5th day track, Indian spinners dismissed Australia for 212 to win the Test.
Fun fact: Austalia had been on a 16-Test winning streak before this Test as well.
7. Chennai Test VS Austalia, 1986
How often do Test matches get tied? After 5 days, the possibility of the two teams battling for 4 innings ending up with the exact same score is a very unlikely scenario. The late Dean Jones had scored a brave 210 in the Chennai heat that saw him getting hospitalised for dehydration. In the 2nd innings, Australia got a lead of 347 and set India a daunting task but with enough time at hand, so that the home team could actually have a go at it.
And the home team obliged. The Indian team was actually on the way to win this historic Test and at one point was 331 for the loss of 6 wickets the Aussie spinners pulled that game back and India were dismissed for 347.
8. Port of Spain Test VS West Indies, 1976
At this point in history, only once had a team chased down a 400+ total to win a Test match. So when, West Indies set India a target of 403, it seemed like there were only two results possible. Either India had to dig out the rest of the overs or lose.
However, that was not the case. West Indies had played 3 spinners on a track that gave an illusion of being dry and favourable to spinners. It could have actually worked for WI had they been playing any other nation. Except they were up against some of the finest batters of spin bowling. Sunil Gavaskar, Gundappa Vishwanath, and Mohinder Amarnath felt at home playing spinners and India comfortably won the Test by 6 wickets.
9. Lord’s Test VS England, 2014
The previous tour of England had been a disappointing one for India as they had failed to win a single game on the tour, be it Tests or ODIs. The way this tour was progressing, it felt like history would repeat itself. Batting on a Lord’s track that was barely distinguishable from the green on the outfield, India managed to put 295 on board, thanks to a counter-attacking century from Ajinkya Rahane.
However, the match seemed like it was going to be a draw, going into lunch on the 5th day. And then, Ishant Sharma happened. After refusing the 2nd new ball, Dhoni asked Ishant Sharma to pepper the Englishmen with short deliveries. Sharma ended up taking a career-best 7-wicket haul and India won the game by 95 runs.
10. Adelaide Test VS Australia, 2014
It is very rare that a lost cause would be listed in India’s greatest Test matches. But this match is an exception, just because of the twists and turns it had. This was the first glance the world had at Virat Kohli’s Indian team and the match could have gone either way even during the last few hours of the 5th test.
Chasing 364 on a 5th-day track, nobody gave India a chance. Nathan Lyon was at the peak of his career and the Indian team was relatively inexperienced. That being said, things changed when Kohli joined Murali Vijay at the crease. He already had a century in the first inning and was riding high in confidence. So much so, that he actually went for the target.
It was some of the most sublime strokeplay you would ever see in a Test match. However, as India closed in on the total, Vijay was dismissed for 99. Kohli, too found himself playing one shot too many and was holed out in the deep. The rest of the team then folded cheaply and India lost the game by 48 runs.
Naturally, we could not include every Test we wanted to because, over the course of years, India has featured in more than a few legendary games that have ever been played. So, if you think some other games that should be here, do let us know.