Five Times India Staged A Brilliant Comeback In Away Tests Since 2000
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Five Times India Staged A Brilliant Comeback In Away Tests Since 2000

India
Indians celebrate after a resounding win in Perth [Photo-Getty]

Team India is under the pump after having suffered the ignominy of posting their lowest-ever total [36] in Test history in the pink ball Test at the Adelaide Oval. After having competed fiercely for a better part of the first six-session, the visitors squandered all the advantage that they had gained in the first two days with a horrendous display of batting on the third afternoon.

With Virat Kohli not available for the next three Tests and Mohammed Shami joining the injury list alongside veteran pacer Ishant Sharma, the Men in Blue have got their backs firmly against the walls.

But this is not the first time that India have experienced such a situation in an away Test series. And, the Ajinkya Rahane-led unit can take inspiration from the fact that in the past there have been numerous instances where the Men in Blue have scripted a turnaround after having suffered a morale-shellacking defeat.

Here’s a look at five such instances when India staged a resounding comeback in away Tests:

 

Colombo 2015- India won by 278 runs

India
Virat Kohli punches in the air as he celebrates his teams victory. (AP Photo/Eranga Jayawardena)

Previous game- India lost by 63 runs, Galle

Virat Kohli’s stint as Test captain hadn’t begun on a good note by the time he and his team reached Colombo for the second Test of the three-match series. By then, Kohli had led India in 4 Tests and had come agonizingly close to winning three of them. A middle-order meltdown had denied him of a win in Adelaide while inclement weather did the same in Bangladesh.

He was well on his way to registering his maiden win as Test captain in Galle but a Dinesh Chandimal masterclass in the second innings [162 not-out] followed by Rangana Herath’s 7/48 meant he suffered yet another ignominy of a ‘so close yet so far’ moment.

Five Times India Staged A Brilliant Comeback In Away Tests Since 2000

However, it all changed in the second Test in Colombo. Batting first, India, riding on KL Rahul’s 108 and half-centuries from skipper Kohli [78] and Rohit Sharma [79] posted 393 in their first innings. Amit Mishra’s 4/43 helped the visitors bowl, Sri Lanka, out for 306. India consolidated their first innings advantage by posting 8-325 in their second essay thanks to a brilliant ton by Ajinkya Rahane [126].

India eventually gave Sri Lanka a fourth-innings target of 412. On a wearing track, it was never going to be easy for the Lankans and it proved that way as Ravichandran Ashwin’s 5/42 and Amit Mishra’s 3/29 helped the Indians skittle the home side for a mere 134. India won the Test by 278 runs and then went on to win the next one by 117 runs to register their maiden Test series win in Sri Lanka since 1993.

 

Melbourne 2018- India won by 137 runs

Australia vs India 2018 | Virat Kohli | Aaron Finch | Jasprit Bumrah
India celebrates their wicket. (Photo by Michael Dodge/Getty Images)

Previous game- India lost by 146 runs, Perth

India will go into the Boxing Day Test against Australia in the ongoing Border-Gavaskar Trophy after having suffered a morale-shellacking eight-wicket defeat at the Adelaide Oval; a Test match which they largely dominated for a better part of the first six sessions before bottling it in a sensational manner by getting bowled out for 36 on the third afternoon.

Interestingly, India was in the same position the last time they traveled to the MCG for a Test match. During the 2018/19 tour, India won the first Test in Adelaide before getting shellacked by 146 runs in the succeeding Test at the Optus Stadium in Perth. However, the Men in Blue found their mojo in the Boxing Day Test, outplaying the Aussie in all three departments of the game.

India, Kapil Dev, Australia vs India 2018/19
Jasprit Bumrah. (Photo by Michael Dodge/Getty Images)

Cheteshwar Pujara’s patient hundred [106] and half-centuries from Virat Kohli [82 and Rohit Sharma [63 not-out] grounded the Australian attack into the dust as India posted 7/443 in their first innings. But on a placid track that had no help for bowlers, India needed an inspiring performance from their attack. And, that is exactly what they got from Jasprit Bumrah, whose then career-best figures of 6/33, helped the visitors to knock over the Aussies for a mere 151.

India decided against enforcing the follow-on and even though they were knocked over by Pat Cummins [6/27] in their second essay, they had by then accumulated a match-winning lead of 398. Australia battled hard in the second innings but an all-round bowling performance by the Men in Blue-led by Jasprit Bumrah [3/53] and Ravindra Jadeja [3/82] ensured that they could only manage a mere 261, falling 137 runs short of the target.

 

Nottingham 2018- India won by 203 runs

Ravindra Jadeja, Virender Sehwag, India, England, Southampton
India won by 203 runs Credits: Getty Images.

Previous Test: India lost by an innings & 159 runs, Lord’s

Imagine you have been put in to bat on a green mamba masquerading as a Test match pitch; one that has witnessed unrelenting rain for the last 24 hours. The greatest exponent of those conditions (Read: James Anderson) schools your batting line-up, not once but twice.

Your side is knocked over for 107 and 130 and to make matters worse a bowling all-rounder in the opposition’s ranks (Read: Chris Woakes) makes more runs (137) than your entire batting line-up has managed in two outings. You are humbled by an innings and 159 runs. The series scoreline stands at 0-2.

The detractors are calling for heads to roll. How do you stage a comeback from such a hopeless situation? Well! Virat Kohli’s team showed us how to respond to such a scenario as they humbled England by 203 runs in the following Test at Trent Bridge, Nottingham.

Joe Root made a cardinal sin by opting to bowl first and unlike Lord’s, India made England pay this time around. Skipper Virat Kohli starred with a brilliant 97 while Ajinkya Rahane stroked a counter-attacking 131-ball 81 as India racked up 329 in the first innings.

England vs India, Test Win
Hardik Pandya (credits – Getty)

With the ball swinging around, Harik Pandya turned up to the party to claim his career-best figures of 5/28 as England were knocked over for 161 in a mere 38.2 overs. Pandya chipped in with an unbeaten 52-ball 52 in the second innings after Cheteshwar Pujara (72) and Virat Kohli (103) had laid the platform for a big lead.

India set an improbable target of 520 for England in the second innings, who could only manage 317 thanks largely to Jos Buttler’s hundred.

 

Durban 2010- India won by 87 runs

India
Indians celebrate after a memorable win in Durban [Photo by Anesh Debiky/Gallo Images/Getty Images]
Previous Test: India lost by an innings & 25 runs, Centurion

India had gone into the three-match Test series in South Africa as the No.1 ranked side in the world but they were served a reality check by the Graeme Smith-led Proteas in the first Test itself as the home side shellacked the ‘Men in Blue’ by an innings and 25 runs- the only consolation for the visitors being Sachin Tendulkar’s record 50th Test ton.

But, as has been the case with Team India, whenever their backs are pushed against the walls, the visitors fought back valiantly in the Boxing Day Test in Durban.

After having managed a mere 205 on a seaming Kingsmead track, Indian bowlers- spearheaded by Harbhajan Singh (4/10) and Zaheer Khan (3/36) orchestrated the sides’ comeback by knocking over the hosts for 131.

India
VVS Laxman [Photo-Getty]
But with the cream of their batting-unit gone for a mere 96, it looked like India would once again squander all the advantage. Enter VVS Laxman. The ‘Very Very Special’ batsman once again battled the odds stacked against him to score a pristine 96 to help India set a target of 302.

South Africa got off to a brilliant start to their second innings as Smith and Alviro Pietersen stitching 63 runs for the first wicket in a mere 12.1 overs. However, Sreesanth proceeded to dismiss Smith and then Hashim Amla while Harbhajan dismissed Pietersen to reduce the Proteas to 3-82.

India
Jacques Kallis [Photo-Getty]
The final nail in the coffin was then hammered by Sreesanth courtesy of an unplayable short-pitch delivery to Jacques Kallis; one that Kallis could only manage to fend it the gully region with both his feet hanging in the air.

South Africa were eventually dismissed for 215 to give India a series-leveling 87-run win.

 

Perth 2008- India won by 72 runs

India
Indians celebrate after winning in Perth [Photo-Google]
Previous Test: India lost by 122 runs, Sydney

Whenever the history of Indian Test rivalry with Australia is written, it will never be completed without the mention of umpiring howlers (loads of them), heated altercations. ‘Monkeygate Scandal’, and only one team playing within the ‘Spirit of the Game’ during the 2008 Sydney Test.

The Sydney Test was probably the lowest point in the cricketing relations between India and Australia and with so many wrong decisions playing their part in the tourists’ defeat and the ensuing racism allegations against Harbhajan Singh, the situation came to the point that the series was on the verge of getting scrapped midway after Harbhajan was handed a three-Test ban.

Five Times India Staged A Brilliant Comeback In Away Tests Since 2000
Harbhajan Singh and Andrew Symonds [Photo-Reuters]
But with ICC exonerating Harbhajan from racial charges Steve Bucknor and Mark Benson removed from officiating in the third Test, the game eventually went ahead. The third Test was at the WACA where Indians weren’t even expected to compete, let alone win. Australia roped in the pacy trio of Brett Lee, Shaun Tait and Mitchell Johnson with an intention to blast India out on what was expected to be a typical WACA pitch.

Except, none of that happened. Batting first, India thanks to a patient 93 by Rahul Dravid and an enterprising 71 by Sachin Tendulkar posted a competitive 330. RP Singh [4/68] and Irfan Pathan [2/63] bamboozled the Australians with seam and swing while Ishant Sharma [2/34] impressed with his raw pace as India dismissed the home side for a mere 212.

VVS Laxman [79] and MS Dhoni [38] led India’s charge in the second innings after handy contributions from Virender Sehwag [43] and Irfan Pathan [46] at the top of the order as the visitors set Australia a fourth innings target of 412.

India
Ishant Sharma after dismissing Ponting [Photo-Google]
But the moment of the game came when a young fast bowler by the name of Ishant Sharma bowled a marathon spell to Ricky Ponting; a spell in which Ponting was all at sea against the rookie. Sharma eventually got his man for the second time in the match after Ponting finally edged one to the slip cordon. Irfan Pathan and RP Singh claimed five wickets between them while Virender Sehwag chipped in with two crucial wickets of Adam Gilchrist and Brett Lee to lead India to the cusp of a famous win.

Mitchell Johnson [50 not-out] threatened to take spoil India’s party but Pathan and Singh eventually knocked over the last two batsmen to help the visitors claim bragging rights.

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Yash Mittal

Just a student of this beautiful game called cricket. Writer. Storyteller.