Adelaide has seen some remarkable finishes to Australia-India Test matches, but this year’s was a beauty. It’s not often a team can give away 556 runs in the first innings of the match and come back to win. Congratulations Sourav and the gang.
In February 1978, the last six-day Test to be played in Australia (under the condition at the time that a sixth day would be scheduled in the final Test if a series was still in the balance) saw India set 493 for victory. India ploughed away for 141 eight-ball overs before getting all out for a remarkable 445 on the sixth morning – still better that the highest winning target in Test history.
In January 1981, a Test which produced absolutely splendid innings from Kim Hughes (213) and Sandeep Patil (174) saw India left an impractical target of 331 to win with insufficient time. They slumped to eight wickets down for 135 before scrambling through to a draw. Shivlal Yadav remained 0 not out after 31 minutes at the crease, an unlikely Indian hero in what can only be described as an exciting draw.
In January 1992, India were left with 372 to win, and despite a blistering 106 by Mohammad Azharuddin, they fell short at 333 late on the fifth day. This game, however, marked probably the first time that the umpiring of Darrell Hair would rankle partisan overseas TV audiences.
Back to December 2003, and Ricky Ponting’s 242, arguably the most mature innings of his Test career to date, looked set to place Australia in a dominant position yet again. Dravid and Laxman put paid to that with their second triple-century stand against Australia inside three years.
Agarkar’s six-fer put Australia in disarray in the second innings and left them without a target that they could comfortably bowl to. It was perhaps Aggie’s finest Test performance with the ball, but it’s fair to say that the Aussies lost it on the fourth day with some unsound batting. Even Steve “Final Farewell Tour” Waugh was not immune from criticism.
But Australia’s greatest weakness in this Test was the one which had been blaring out the warning message ever since the Perth Test against Zimbabwe. That is, Australia lack quality bowling depth.
No McGrath, no Warne, no Lee, and Gillespie breaking down yet again. Brad Williams is raw, Andy Bichel is tireless but not necessarily penetrative, Stuart MacGill bowls too many bad balls. (Am I the only one who thinks it a travesty that MacGill is three wickets away from equalling Bill O’Reilly’s Test career total?)
Lee will be back for the Boxing Day Test at the MCG, but he will be taking the injured Gillespie’s place. The left-handed Nathan Bracken would, in my opinion, be a better bet than Williams, though that would fuel Williams’ not-in-breach-of-the-code-of-conduct-but-say-you’re-sorry-anyway conspiracy theories. Anyway, there’s also a good leftie called Matthew Inness from Victoria, but he’s currently getting over glandular fever.
Australia, and Steve “The Last Goodbye” Waugh, need to win both the final two Tests to recover the Border-Gavaskar Trophy. A one-all draw is enough for India to retain the Big Bauble. Write down the names Matthew Nicholson, Mike Kasprowicz, Ashley Noffke and Paul Rofe, then put on a blindfold and stick in a pin. You might be duplicating the NSP’s choice for the final bowling spot in Tests Three and Four.