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The history of the Border-Gavaskar Trophy, a Test series between India and Australia, is one of the richest in the annals of cricketing lore

The Indian cricket team had faced Australia in 50 Test matches between 1947 and 1996. And then the fabled competition was renamed the Border-Gavaskar Trophy in 1996 to celebrate the record-breaking achievements of cricket legends Sunil Gavaskar of India and former Australia captain Allan Border.

Sunil Gavaskar and Allan Border were the first cricketers to score 10,000 runs in Test cricket and were the highest run-getters in the longest format of the game for quite some time.

Currently, Indian cricket legend Sachin Tendulkar holds the mantle of being the highest run-scorer in Test cricket. Incidentally, he is also the highest run-scorer in the Border-Gavaskar Trophy.

Before the Border-Gavaskar Trophy, the India vs Australia Test series history saw the two sides clash in 12 editions, where the Aussies won 7 times and India just once. Four were drawn.

Since the competition's rechristening, the two sides have played in 14 editions of the competition until 2019. Here’s what happened:

Border-Gavaskar Trophy begins: The first one-off Test 

India vs Australia cricket matches have always been intense and that was made apparent once again when the two teams clashed under the Border-Gavaskar banner for the first time in 1996.

The Australian cricket team had toured India in October for a one-off Test, held at Delhi’s Feroz Shah Kotla. India beat Australia by seven wickets, with Nayan Mongia adjudged the man of the match for his maiden ton in the first innings. It has been the only one-off Test played in the India vs Australia Test series history.

India retained the Border-Gavaskar Trophy 2-1 under Indian captain Mohammad Azharuddin when Australia visited again for a three-match Test series in 1997-98. 

India dominated to win the first two Test matches in Chennai and in Kolkata, with Sachin Tendulkar smashing Shane Warne all over the park, while Australia notched up a consolation win in Bangalore.

First Border-Gavaskar Trophy in Australia

Captain Sachin Tendulkar had led India in the third Border-Gavaskar edition, a three-Test match series played during the 1999-2000 season. 

It had been an uphill battle till then with India losing 16 and winning only three of their previous 25 Test matches in Australia over a span of five years and six tours. It was no different this time as Australia beat India in all three Test matches held in Adelaide, Melbourne and the Sydney Cricket Ground. It was in this series that express fast bowler Brett Lee made his Test match debut.

The series is also known for the infamous LBW decision that went against Sachin Tendulkar when an attempted Glenn McGrath-bouncer stayed low and hit the ducking batsman on his shoulder.

India conceded the third Border-Gavaskar Trophy for the first time.

Historic Test match for India

The epic Australia tour of India, 2001

The 2001 Test series is counted among the finest ever played in the history of the sport. This was also the series where the Sourav Ganguly-led Indian cricket team had ended a star-studded Australia team’s record 16-Test match winning streak. 

Australia won the opener in Mumbai before India fought back valiantly to claim the series 2-1. From Harbhajan Singh’s hat-trick and VVS Laxman’s gritty innings of 281 to an unbelievable 376-run partnership that involved Rahul Dravid - India’s encouraging win in the second Test match at Eden Gardens eventually helped them clinch the Test series in Chennai.

India retain Border-Gavaskar Trophy in Australia

Under Sourav Ganguly’s captaincy, the Indian cricket team had played some brilliant cricket to draw the 2003-04 series 1-1 in Australia to retain the Border-Gavaskar Trophy. 

Widely considered to be India's best performance Down Under, the series witnessed some majestic individual displays by Indian players. 

The four-match Test series was highlighted by five-fers from Zaheer Khan and Anil Kumble while double centuries by Rahul Dravid and Sachin Tendulkar headlined the batsmen’s performance, as they drew the series. India posted a massive 705/7 in the fourth Test, the highest in the series so far.

The ugly side of India vs Australia

After India’s heroics in Australia, it was time for the Kangaroos to return the favour on Indian soil. Interestingly, Australia’s 2-1 victory in the 2004 Border-Gavaskar Trophy was their first Test series win in India since their 1969-70 tour.

Australia had the home advantage during the 2007-08 Border-Gavaskar Trophy when the two nations met again for a fiercely-fought four-match Test series.

Though Australia clinched the series 2-1, it is remembered more for India’s unlikely win in Perth’s difficult conditions and a series of controversial umpiring decisions.

These umpiring howlers had created a huge backlash, with Australia accused of not upholding the spirit of the game. It was also the scene for the notorious Monkeygate Scandal where Harbhajan Singh was accused of making racist remarks to Andrew Symonds.

India scripts memories at home

This 2008 series will always be remembered for two legends of Indian cricket - Sourav Ganguly and Anil Kumble. Both donned the Indian jersey for the last time in their respective careers as India defeated the Aussies 2-0 in the four-match Test series held in India.

The memorable Mohali Test is the highlight of the 2010 India-Australia two-match Test series held in India. Chasing 216 in the fourth innings of the first Test, the hosts had lost eight wickets in quick succession. With still 92 runs required for India, VVS Laxman and Ishant Sharma forged an incredible partnership of 81 runs for the ninth wicket. Later, Pragyan Ojha and VVS Laxman guided India to a thrilling one-wicket win to script one of the greatest comebacks in the sport. 

 

In the second Test in Bangalore, the hosts thrashed the Aussies by seven wickets to clinch the two-match series 2-0.

A couple of whitewashes

Hosts Australia whitewashed India 4-0 to regain the Border-Gavaskar Trophy in the 2011-12 series Down Under. Australia captain Michael Clarke was adjudged player of the series after he had accumulated 626 runs in the four Tests at an average of 125.20. In the second match of the series, Clarke smashed his career-best score of 329 not out.

Under Mahendra Singh Dhoni’s captaincy, India exacted revenge as they whitewashed the Australians 4-0 to clinch the Border-Gavaskar Trophy held in India in 2013. Interestingly, in the first Test in Chennai, MS Dhoni smashed the highest score by an Indian Test captain by scoring 224 runs and beating the previous record held by Sachin Tendulkar.

Gritty Indian cricket team with the upper hand

It was a year that shook the cricketing world as former Australia batsman Phillip Hughes died after being hit by a short-pitched delivery during a domestic Sheffield Shield match between South Australia and New South Wales. The incident had taken place just before the Australia-India Test series in 2014. 

Subsequently, following the draw in the third Test, MS Dhoni announced his shock retirement from Test cricket in December. Virat Kohli was appointed the new captain of the Indian Test team.

Even though the hosts played with passion and new energy, India lost the four-match Test series 2-0.

The Australian cricket team toured India in February and March 2017, playing a four-match Test series. After going 1-0 down, hosts India came back strong and clinched the series 2–1.

Border-Gavaskar Trophy 2018-19: India create history Down Under

Under Virat Kohli’s captaincy, the Indian team created history by becoming the first Asian nation to win a Test series Down Under, a first since in 1947-48. With Australia competing without batting stalwarts Steve Smith and David Warner -- both of whom were serving a 12-month ban for the Sandpaper Gate -- India put up a dominant show throughout the series to win it 2-1. It was a pivotal moment in the India vs Australia Test series history.

Border-Gavaskar Trophy 2020-21: India’s epic series win from an all-time low

Team India, plagued with a plethora of injuries and without their talismanic captain Virat Kohli, defeated Australia for the second successive time in a Test series in two years, to retain the high-profile Border-Gavaskar Trophy.

Ajinkya Rahane-led Indian cricket team defeated the hosts by three wickets in the fourth and final Test in Brisbane to clinch the four-match series 2-1.

The result meant that the visitors created history as they became the first side to beat Australia at The Gabba in over 32 years. 

Interestingly, Australia had won the first Test in Adelaide while bundling out India in the pink ball Test for their lowest Test total of 36. However, India registered a stunning comeback at the iconic Melbourne Cricket Ground (MCG), winning the Boxing Day Test by eight wickets. Meanwhile, the third Test had ended in an epic draw in Sydney.

 

 

Border-Gavaskar Trophy winner list

Season Hosts Number of Tests Winner Result
1996-97 India 1 India 1-0
1997-98 India 3 India 2-1
1999-00 Australia 3 Australia 3-0
2000-01 India 3 India 2-1
2003-04 Australia 4 Drawn 1-1
2004-05 India 4 Australia 2-1
2007-08 Australia 4 Australia 2-1
2008-09 India 4 India 2-0
2010-11 India 2 India 2-0
2011-12 Australia 4 Australia 4-0
2012-13 India 4 India 4-0
2014-15 Australia 4 Australia 2-0
2016-17 India 4 India 2-1
2018-19 Australia 4 India 2-1
2020-21 Australia 4 India 2-1

Feature image courtesy: AFP / Tony Ashby, Peter Parks, Dibyangshu Sarkar, Indranil Mukherjee, Patrick Hamilton

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