Australia vs. India, cricket

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Australians too scared to sledge Kohli, Indians because of IPL

India versus Australia in the World Cup, Graphic courtesy: The Times of India

Aussie cricketers 'sucked up' to Virat Kohli & Co to protect IPL deals: Michael Clarke, April 7, 2020: The Times of India

MELBOURNE: Australian cricketers were so keen on protecting their lucrative Indian Premier League (IPL) deals that they felt "scared" of sledging India captain Virat Kohli and his teammates during a particular period and instead "sucked up" to them, former skipper Michael Clarke has claimed.

India and Australia have had some memorable bilateral duels but Clarke felt that whenever the Australians would face India, their eyes would be trained on the cash-rich league which is played in April-May every year.

"Everybody knows how powerful India are in regards to the financial part of the game, internationally or domestically with the IPL," Clarke told Big Sports Breakfast.

"I feel that Australian cricket, and probably every other team over a little period, went the opposite and actually sucked up to India. They were too scared to sledge Kohli or the other Indian players because they had to play with them in April (in the IPL)," the World Cup winning Australian skipper said dropping a bombshell.

Clarke believes that some of Australia's ruthless on-field character was compromised because the top-10 draws at the IPL auctions gave an impression that they would never sledge Kohli.

"Name a list of ten players and they are bidding for these Australian players to get into their IPL team," he said.

"The players were like: 'I'm not going to sledge Kohli, I want him to pick me for Bangalore, so I can make my USD 1 million for my six weeks'.

"I feel like that's where Australia went through that little phase where our cricket become a little bit softer or not as hard as we're accustomed to seeing," Clarke said about the time after the ball-tampering scandal, when terms like 'elite honesty' were propagated.

India and Australia have always enjoyed a fiery on-field chemistry with the two teams engaging in many verbal wars in the past, which include the tours of Down Under in 2007-08 and 2018.

The infamous 'Monkey gate' in 2008 is considered the lowest point in the history of cricket between the two powerhouses.


Test match in Delhi

SUNIL GAVASKAR, On Day 4, fears of Kotla, 1969 when pitch started behaving, January 28, 2018: The Times of India

The last time one heard of a dramatic improvement in the condition of a pitch was way back in 1969, when Australia toured India under Bill Lawry. That was the Test match at the Ferozeshah Kotla in Delhi and India, after having bowled Australia for a low score in the second innings, were left to chase 190-odd in the fourth innings.

The Indian spinners had turned the ball considerably and with the guile — added to their natural talent — had made Australia’s batsmen look pretty ordinary. Australia had Ashley Mallet and John Gleason in their ranks and so had the spin component along with the pace of Graham Mc-Kenzie, Alan Connolly to make India’s run chase tough if not impossible.

What happened was quite incredible as India coasted to an easy win, losing only three wickets in the bargain. Mallet hardly got to turn the ball and India’s batsmen being good players of spin were not going to fail if the ball wasn’t turning. The morning session on the fourth day at the Wanderers reminded of that Delhi game as the pitch, which had been the subject of much discussion the previous day, had seemingly gone to sleep.

The ball hardly jumped up awkwardly and while it went past the outside edge quite regularly, India failed to get a single wicket in the pre-lunch session. Both Amla and Elgar batted with great gumption and determination and ran very well between the wickets to keep the strike moving, making it difficult for the bowlers to bowl to the right and left-hand combination.

Amla got a half century in each innings on this pitch, which is a terrific achievement and tells you how underrated a player he is. Elgar has always been a fighter and a gritty player batting well within his limitations. The wickets of de Villiers and Amla, however, was just the tonic that India needed and it paved the way for a famous win. PMG/ESP

India’s Test Wins In Australia: 1977 onwards

India’s high-five down under: 1977-2008

[ From the archives of the Times of India]

Fast and bouncy wickets, quality opposition and general tendency to underperform abroad have been key factors for India having never won a series in Australia since 1947-48, their first tour Down Under. However, they have recorded five Test wins which rank among their best triumphs. We take a look at those cherished wins...

MCG, 1977-78

Playing against an Australian team missing all the top stars due to the ‘Packer revolution’, India were staring down the barrel after being 0-2 down, having lost the Tests in Adelaide and Perth. The Aussies were being led by Bobby Simpson, who had been dragged out of retirement. The visitors, however, turned it all around magnificently at the MCG, recording their first Test win Down Under. The stars for India were legendary opener Sunil Gavaskar, who scored 118 in the second innings, and leggie Bhagwat Chandrashekhar, who took six wickets in each innings to leave the Aussies bamboozled.


India's test wins in Australia, 1977-2021
From: Amit Karmakar, December 30, 2020: The Times of India

See graphic:

India's test wins in Australia, 1977-2021

1987-2009: four close results

Text: Vivek Krishnan, June 9, 2019: The Times of India




After Geoff Marsh’s 110 helped Australia post 270/6, India were comfortably placed at 207/2 and seemingly cruising towards a win. But once Navjot Singh Sidhu, on his ODI debut, fell for 73, Australia found a foot in the door. The equation eventually boiled down to eight runs off the last over and two off the last ball with one wicket left, but Steve Waugh held his nerve with the ball and took the Aussies to victory. Aus 270/6 in 50 overs (G Marsh 110) bt Ind 269 in 49.5 overs (N Sidhu 73, C McDermott 4/56) by 1 run.


Australia had notched up 237/6 from their 50 overs but India’s target was revised to 236 from 47 overs after rain interrupted proceedings. It came down to four from one ball with Javagal Srinath on strike, and he played a mighty slog towards wide long-on off Tom Moody’s final delivery. While Waugh dropped the catch, he made amends with a pinpoint throw that ran out Venkatapathy Raju, who was attempting the third run. Five years later, Australia had once again defeated India in the World Cup, by the same margin.

Aus 237/9 in 50 overs (D Jones 90; Kapil Dev 3/41) bt Ind (target 236 in 47 overs) 234 in 47 overs (M Azharuddin 93) by 1 run.


One of India’s greatest ODI triumphs. MS Dhoni’s boys pulled off a 9-run win over a dominant Australian side to clinch the series. After winning the first final in Sydney by six wickets, they successfully defended 258 at the Gabba to ensure that a third final was not required. Ind 258/9 in 50 overs (S Tendulkar 91) bt Aus 249 in 49.4 overs (P Kumar 4/46) by 9 runs.


A reprise of the 1990s, when India were over-reliant on Sachin Tendulkar. The Men in Blue fell 4 runs short of victory while chasing 351, despite the Mumbai maestro smashing 175 off 141 balls. He fell with India needing 19 runs from three overs with four wickets in hand, but what followed was a familiar tale of woe as India folded for 347. Aus 350/4 in 50 overs (S Marsh 112) bt Ind 347 in 49.4 overs (S Tendulkar 175) by 3 runs.

Sydney, Jan 1978

SCG, 1977-78: Having smelt blood, India were on a roll and decimated Australia by an innings and two runs in the game at Sydney, a venue which favoured their traditional strength — spin. Chandrashekhar, Bishan Bedi and Erapalli Prasanna left the Aussies in a ‘spin’. Australia could manage just 131 in the first innings. India replied with 396 for eight declared and sealed the game. Gavaskar, who hit three hundreds in that series, added 97 for the first wicket with Chetan Chauhan. Gundappa Viswanath top-scored with 79, Dilip Vengsarkar got 48, but the real surprise package was seamer Karsan Ghavri, who went on to make 64. Australia fought hard in the second essay, but the Indian spinners were not to be denied their glory.

India levelled the series with a victory by an innings and two runs. While the spinners — Chandrasekhar, Erapalli Prasanna and Bishan Bedi — spun a web around the Aussies, Gundappa Viswanath’s 79 played a pivotal role in India getting 265-run lead in the first innings.

MCG, 1981

This can safely be labelled as ‘Kapil’s Test’. Bowling with a torn hamstring, Kapil took five for 28 to earn India a 59-run victory. This game had plenty of memorable action. Gavaskar, after a spat with Dennis Lille, threatened to take fellow opener Chetan Chauhan off the field and concede the Test. It would have been a diplomatic disaster had it not been for the timely intervention of wing commander Durrani, who was the manager on that tour. Interestingly, Ghavri got Greg Chappell in both the innings, the second time for a blob.

ADELAIDE, 2003-04

Thanks to a fighting hundred by Sourav Ganguly at Brisbane, India had begun with a bang. At Adelaide, Australia scored 398 for five on Day 1. The Kangaroos finished at 556, with Ricky Ponting getting 242. Buoyed by Rahul Dravid’s 233 and VVS Laxman’s 148, India replied strongly with 523. Dravid and Laxman again tormented the Aussies by batting together a whole day. Australia suffered a shocking collapse in the second innings, with seamer Ajit Agarkar taking 6-41. Dravid anchored a tense chase beautifully with an unbeaten 72 as India recorded a welldeserved win.

PERTH, 2007-08

Arguably India’s greatest overseas triumph. On the bounciest wicket in the world, India went into the game in the worst possible frame of mind. They had lost two Tests already, and worse, were hounded by the ‘Monkeygate’ scandal that threatened the tour altogether. Pleasantly surprising everyone, India put all controversies behind to beat Australia. Ishant Sharma got Ponting out after delivering a spell the Aussie great himself later termed as the “best” he had faced all his life. Irfan Pathan took five wickets and scored 46 to win the Man of the Match award while Rahul Dravid scored a crucial 93. Australia were left stunned after the loss and many former players demanded an inquest into why the home team’s pacers didn’t swing the ball much. The Aussies were also accused of lacking aggression after the happenings in Sydney. For India, a win seemed like poetic justice.

Adelaide, 2018

The 31-run victory here on Monday was India’s third narrowest in terms of runs. Never before in the 70-year history of Indo-Australian Test cricket had an Indian team won the series opener Down Under.

ODI series


The results of bilateral Australia- India ODI series, 1984-2018.
From: March 2, 2019: The Times of India

See graphic:

The results of bilateral Australia- India ODI series, 1984-2018.

1986: Tied test, Maninder’s questionable dismissal

Manuja Veerappa, TIED TEST: 30 YEARS ON - Maninder was out, I stand by my decision: Vikramraju, Sep 20 2016 : The Times of India

1986: Tied test vs. Australia, Maninder’s questionable dismissal

On September 22, Thursday, it will be 30 years since the second-ever tied Test match ended at the MA Chidambaram stadium. The leg-before dismissal of Maninder Singh off Australian spinner Greg Matthews in the second last ball of the final over, to date, haunts many Indians.

But the man who delivered the verdict -umpire V Vikramraju -prefers to remember the game for the quality of cricket rather than the controversy which erupted following his decision which many players thought was contentious.

On Monday, as the affable 82year-old regaled fellow umpires with stories from the `good old days', the Chennai Test was the highlight. He was even felicitated by umpires in Hubballi to mark the 30th anniversary of the epic Test. Later, speaking to TOI, Vikramraju said, “It was a great match and one I will remember forever.

“It was a landmark match for many players. Sunil Gavaskar was playing his 100th Test, Dean Jones scored a double century and there were three other centurions. If you are asking me about the last-wicket decision, then like I have always said through these three decades, I stand by it. Maninder's bat did not come in contact with the ball. It was a clear LBW. Everybody including my fellow umpire Dara N Dotiwalla agreed that the decision was right.“

The Bengaluru umpire also dismissed claims by former players, who played the match, that they had a chat with him after the game ended.

“None of the players came up to me or told me anything after the match. The first time I heard murmurs of displeasure from the Indian players was when Ravi Shastri spoke about it a few days later. It didn't matter because the match was over.“

The match was also Vikramraju's second and last as a Test umpire. Does he think that decision changed the course of his career?

“I don't know. I never dwelled too much on it. I was 52 then and had three more years according to the age norms for international umpiring. A Test never came my way but I continued to do domestic matches including Ranji Trophy final and ODIs. I have no regrets in my career„“ he said.

1991-92 tour

India's performance during the 1991-92 tour of Australia: Test series, tri- series and World Cup,The Times of India


India wins at Eden Gardens

Mar 15, 2017: The Times of India

On this day: Test cricket turns 140 & India seal an epic victory at Eden Gardens in 2001

NEW DELHI: This match is the stuff of legend and the outcome could not have come on a better day than March 15, the 124th anniversary of the first ever official Test match. India down 0-1 in 2000-01 three-match Test series, bowled out for 171 in reply to Australia's 445 in the second Test, forced to follow on ... and then it all turned very, very special. The hero for India was VVS Laxman, whose 83-ball 59 from No. 6 inspired the move to send him in at No. 3 when India batted a second time on the third day.

Laxman finished the day not out on 109 and with Rahul Dravid (180) batted the entire fourth day while adding 335; the eventual stand of 376 broke a series of records and took India to 589 for 4.

Laxman batted his way to a marathon 281, the highest Test score by an Indian and one that changed the tone of the match. Sourav Ganguly's declaration with a lead of 383 set Australia 75 overs to bat out a draw; Harbhajan Singh n whose first-innings 7 for 123 on day one included the first hat-trick by an Indian in Tests had other ideas and took six wickets to bowl India to an epic win. 16 years on, the victory is still afresh in minds of those who witnessed the Eden miracle and cricket lovers across the globe.

Today also marks the 140th anniversary of the first ever official Test match that was played between England and Australia at the MCG in 1877. Google dedicated a Doodle to celebrate anniversary. The first official cricket Test match in history began on this day in 1877 between an established English team and a newly-formed Australian squad at the Melbourne Cricket ground. It finished in a 45-run win for Australia.

"Today's Doodle hits the deck with a light-hearted rendering that captures the spirit of sportsmanship and the inaugural Test match," Google said. "Mustachioed and muscle-bound, the batsmen, bowlers and opposition fielders spring into action, never losing sight of the red ball," it said.

India won the series

'Turbanator' Harbhajan recalls India's historic victory against Australia in 2001, March 29, 2019: The Times of India

Offie Harbhajan Singh talks to Dwaipayan Datta about his career changing 15-wicket haul at Chepauk against Australia that gave India one of their most memorable Test series wins ever.

I was relaxing in my room at the Chennai Super Kings team hotel a day ahead of our IPL opener (March 23) at Chepauk when I got a WhatsApp message of a YouTube clip of a young sardar running with his bat over his head to complete a second run for an Indian team from another era. The friend who sent it to me added a line: " Bhai, 18 years!"

It still feels like yesterday, when we won the Test match against Steve Waugh's Australia here to complete the famous series win. Yes, I got 15 wickets (7/133 and 8/84, 32 for the series), it changed my life and the Turbanator was born. But it was those two runs, I took off Glenn McGrath in the second innings to ensure the two-wicket win, which still give me goosebumps. We were chasing 155 and I was praying I wouldn't have to bat. But after tea on Day 5, wickets fell in a heap and I had to go out there with four runs to go... But that was the climax, let's start from the beginning.

Eden Gardens high

We came to Chennai on the back of a memorable Test win at Eden Gardens. After losing badly in Mumbai, VVS Laxman's 281 and Rahul Dravid's 180 turned it around for us at Eden. Yes, I, too, got 13 wickets and suddenly the whole country was looking at me as the match-winner that they were missing in the absence of an injured Anil Kumble. I have learned a lot bowling with Anil bhai, but I still thank him (in jest) for getting injured before the series. The world probably wouldn't have known me if he was fit.

There was a bit of chatter around me before I was selected for the series. I had problems at the National Cricket Academy and was suspended briefly. Then there were issues with my action, which were dealt with, but most importantly, I had lost my father just before the series.

Ahead of the series, I picked 28 wickets in four Ranji games and during a camp at the MRF Pace Foundation in Chennai, there was a session where bowlers had to hit one stump. I did it more frequently than the others and probably that's why I got the call. Once the series began, things started falling into place at Eden Gardens, I got the first-ever hat-trick for India in Test cricket and consequently we won.

Dada loses another toss

I have a lot of respect for Dada, but somehow he just couldn't win tosses on Indian pitches, where the ball started doing a bit for the spinners after the third day. It was no different at Chepauk, where we were playing with three spinners (debutant leggie Sairaj Bahutule, inexperienced left-arm spinner Nilesh Kulkarni and a 20-year-old me). The ball wasn't doing much and Matthew Hayden was in an absolutely punishing mood. I have bowled to many batsmen, but hardly has anyone been more intimidating than Hayden. In addition to that I dropped Hayden once when he was closing in on a double ton, but it didn't cost us much, though Haydos still made the landmark. In that innings, I remember Steve Waugh, who hardly ever put a foot wrong, handling the ball of my bowling and the ball wasn't even close to the wicket. I didn't know it could be a mode of dismissal, and understood only when Rahul and Dada appealed and got the decision. Waugh was batting so well, it was game-changing!

Back and forth

We batted well and got a lead of more than 100, but Australia counter-attacked. My most memorable scalp of the eight in the second innings was definitely Steve Waugh's. He was unbeaten when Australia went out to bat on the fifth morning and if he had carried on longer, they might have won the game. I got that bounce from the Chepauk track, it also turned a bit, and Waugh was caught at forward short-leg.

I got Ponting in both innings, he was probably over-thinking while facing me. He didn't know what to do and in those days, he had a habit of jabbing at the ball hard early on. I made the most of it and got him out.

So close, yet...

Those days, after my bowling session, I used to stay quiet in the dressing room and keep looking at the seniors. Their body language suggested belief after we had got Australia cheaply in the second innings, but my god, this was some Australia... At tea, with Laxman at the crease, we thought we had won, but VVS got out soon after, courtesy a stunning catch by Mark Waugh. Chepauk went completely quiet and the tension was unbearable as more wickets fell. It was probably god's will that I get those last four runs. When I look at the YouTube video now, I remember I was expecting a bouncer from McGrath when we needed two. But he tried yorking me and I just put bat to ball. He had removed the point before bowling that delivery and the ball went just there as I ran for life.


It's a bit of blur afterwards. I remember the ovation I got from the fans. A few wanted to talk to me, but in those days I couldn't speak anything other than Hindi and Punjabi. Conversation wasn't possible, but the language I communicated with them was cricket. So many years have gone by, I have come to Chennai so many times, I have won Champions League here as Mumbai Indians captain as well (in 2011). The affection the fans have for me hasn't gone down one bit and now, at the fag end of my career, I would love to play a part and give them the gift that they so dearly love - the IPL trophy.


India beat Australia in the 3rd Test at Chepauk (played from March 18-22, 2001). Here are the highlights

Australia won the toss, Hayden got 203 and Australia was bowled out for 391. Harbhajan took 7/133

India piled up 501, Tendulkar (125) getting his 25th Test ton. Laxman (65) and Dravid (81) contributed handsomely

Harbhajan was the wrecker-in-chief in the second innings, getting 8/84 as Australia folded for 264. With 15 wickets, Harbhajan had the second-best match haul for India in Test cricket, after Narendra Hirwani's 16 (against West Indies)

India almost made a mess of a 155-run target despite Laxman's 66. But debutant keeper Samir Dighe held fort and Harbhajan got the final runs


Jan 10 2015,

Partha Bhaduri, The Times of India

700+ runs in a test series against India

It took willful intent from both sides to bring this game momentarily alive. After three and a half days of meandering cricket on the flattest of surfaces, including the rare offering of a wagging Indian tail, there finally followed a contest brief between bat and ball at the SCG. Then Joe Burns arrived and smashed India's hopes out of sight, allowing Australia to gallop to a 348-run lead at stumps. It was a mad scramble for ascension and Australia came out on top on the day. Unlike the dark clouds and prospect of thundershowers looming over the city, the entertainment in the middle was a welcome change after the tedium of the past few days.

Sixes rained, wickets fell, and Ravichandran Ashwin (50 runs; 4105) had his say. It was not enough, however, to make any significant difference to his side, even though the pitch mercifully deigned to offer disconcerting turn and variable bounce.

The series won, the Aussies, already 97 ahead after India closed shop at 475, were in attacking mode, looking to dangle the carrot of a 300-plus target for India on the last day . Kohli, all passion and positive energy and seeking a way for India to claw back into the game after his early dismissal in the morning, believed there yet could be a twist in the tale.

But Australia scored at 6.27 per over throughout their 40 overs, the last 10 of those going for more than eight runs each as Burns blazed to a 33-ball half-century . Amid the carnage were the old constants: Smith and Rogers again scored half centuries, and Umesh Yadav obligingly sprayed the ball.

Dramatic scenes followed as Virat Kohli decided to throw the new ball to Ashwin in the second over of Australia's innings. Warner fell edging to first slip, playing back to a length ball and the spin and bounce doing the rest. Watson under-edged one on to his stumps.

Five Australian wickets fell before bad light dominated, three of them to Ashwin, but it was Australia which ticked all the boxes: Smith scored 70 from 71 balls, going past Don Bradman as the highest scorer in all India-Australia series. Anything overpitched or marginally short was punished, a lot of runs coming behind square.Ashwin was reverse swept and tonked over cover for maximum.Yadav , either short or wide or stray ing down leg, was pulled and swatted away on the on-side as four boundaries came off the seamer's first over. Only the late inswing from Shami prevented further damage. Rogers too flung his bat around and brought up his sixth consecutive half-century .

A chastened Kohli spread the field, and it was not until he had the courage to crowd men around the bat again that Shaun Marsh fell. The Indians, however, had not accounted for Burns, who batted on this turning pitch as if it was the Gabba of his teenaged days, adding 86 with Haddin to probably take it beyond India's means: The highest successful chase at the SCG is only 288.

Burns took on India's best bowler, Ashwin, tonking him for three sixes, and hit four consecutive fours off Yadav late in the day, gliding to third man, flicking and pulling and generally making a mockery of the attack. Kohli could only give three overs to Yadav, but those yielded 45 runs.Now-regular wicketkeeper Wriddhiman Saha was twice a victim of nerves, botching up a run-out chance and missing a stumping to give Burns a reprieve.

Earlier, Ashwin and a resolute Bhuvneshwar Kumar helped the last four wickets add 123 runs as India hung around batting as much time as they could, but with the pitch playing tricks, will it be enough to see them through? Kohli, for one, will be looking to give the Aussies at least some anxious moments.

2014- 15: Individual performances

The Times of India

Jan 12 2015

2014-15: Individual performances

While the likes of Kohli, Vijay and Rahane came out with flying colours during the Test series against Australia, a few other batsmen, and almost all the bowlers, were found wanting. Gaurav Gupta rates the performance of India's Test team.

2018-19: India’s tour of Australia


Brisbane: India loses by 4 runs

Virat & Co Start Oz Tour With Close Loss In Rain-Marred T20I, November 22, 2018: The Times of India

Scoreboard- India’s tour of Australia- T20Is- Brisbane, 2018
From: Virat & Co Start Oz Tour With Close Loss In Rain-Marred T20I, November 22, 2018: The Times of India

A sloppy India failed to get an ideal start to the Australia tour, losing the rain-hit opening T20I by four runs at the Gabba. India first faltered in the field, letting Australia score 158 for four after rain shortened the contest to 17 overs a side. Glenn Maxwell was the star batsman for Australia, hammering 46 runs off 24 balls.

The 45 minute rain stoppage meant India were set a revised target of 174 runs in 17 overs. Opener Shikhar Dhawan smashed a sublime 76 off 42 balls in the run chase before Dinesh Karthik came up with a pulsating 30 off 13 balls towards the end but India still finished agonisingly short on 169 for seven. It was a morale boosting win for Australia, who have endured a dismal run of late in limited overs cricket. The second match of the three-match series will be played in Melbourne.

Dhawan got India off to a quick start, putting on 35 off 25 balls for the opening stand with Rohit Sharma (7). The latter was caught at long on off Jason Behrendorff (1-43) in a bid to accelerate his strike-rate. In keeping with the strategy used during the T20I series in England, KL Rahul (13) came out to bat at number three.

Dhawan and Rahul put on 46 runs for the second wicket, but it was mostly down to the left-hander’s belligerence. He hit ten fours and two sixes overall, and reached his ninth T20I half-century off only 28 balls. Rahul though was patchy at best and struggled for timing. He was stumped off Adam Zampa (2-22) in the ninth over, with the leg spinner also accounting for skipper Virat Kohli (4) who never really got going coming down at number four.

Zampa should have had a third wicket but he dropped a return chance from Dhawan (on 65). The batsman enjoyed another life at 74, when substitute Nathan Coulter-Nile put him down at square leg off Billy Stanlake (1-27).

The asking rate was climbing up and it took a toll on Dhawan, who finally holed out of Stanlake, leaving Rishabh Pant (20 off 15 balls) and Karthik with a mountain to climb.

They nearly achieved the impossible, putting on 51 off a mere 24 balls, toying around with the Australian bowling. But what is becoming increasingly frustrating with Pant, he played yet another loose and unnecessary stroke, throwing his wicket away. It left Karthik to finish off things, but he found the going tough without enough support from the other end. With 13 needed off 6 balls, Krunal Pandya (2) and Karthik holed out off consecutive deliveries off Marcus Stoinis (2-27).

This was after Maxwell hit four sixes in a whirlwind knock before rain came, after Chris Lynn scored 37 runs off 20 balls to help Australia recover from a slow start.

Maxwell stole the show with his belligerent hitting as Australia crossed 150 in the 16th over.

Melbourne: Rain denies India chance to draw level

November 24, 2018: The Times of India

Scoreboard- India’s tour of Australia- T20Is- Melbourne, 2018
From: November 24, 2018: The Times of India

The second T20 International between India and Australia was called off due to intermittent rain, undoing the visitors’ good work with the ball and denying them an opportunity to level the threematch series.

India were naturally disappointed at not getting a go at the target, which was revised thrice due to rain. Australia had scored 137/7 in 19 overs when the first spell of rain arrived at the Melbourne Cricket Ground. India’s target was initially revised to 137 runs in 19 overs before more rain made it 90 runs from 11 overs and then 46 from five overs. Nearly 90 minutes were lost due to the fickle weather before the game was eventually called off at 10.02 pm local time.

Rain playing hide and seek was not just frustrating for the players but also for the 60,000-plus crowd gathered at the iconic venue. With the match not producing a result, India now can only level the series in the final game in Sydney on Friday. Virat Kohli and his team had come into the T20 series after winning six bilateral contests in a row.

India put up a much-improved show with the ball on Friday, following the disappointment of the series opener at the Gabba on Wednesday.

Bhuvneshwar Kumar (2-20) and Khaleel Ahmed (2-39) shared four wickets to reduce the Australians to 41/4 at one stage. This was after India won the toss and opted to bowl. The visitors went in with an unchanged side while Australia made one change, bringing in Nathan Coulter-Nile for Billy Stanlake.

But Rishabh Pant spilled a difficult diving catch behind the wickets with D’Arcy Short (14) getting a life on 7. Two balls later, Chris Lynn, on nought, should have been caught at fine leg, only for Jasprit Bumrah (1-20) to spill it over the rope.

Sydney: India wins, draws the series

Kohli special flattens Australia, November 26, 2018: The Times of India

Scoreboard- India’s tour of Australia- T20Is- Sydney, 2018
From: Kohli special flattens Australia, November 26, 2018: The Times of India

Skipper’s Unbeaten 61 Helps India Win 3rd T20I, Level Series

Virat Kohli fired the opening salvo on the Australia tour with a match-winning 61, helping India win the third T20 International by six wickets and draw the three-match series 1-1 here Sunday.

Kohli’s sublime 41-ball knock and his 60-run unbeaten stand with Dinesh Karthik (22 not out off 18) gave India the much needed series levelling win ahead of the all important Test series beginning December 6 at Adelaide.

The captain’s perfectly executed chase in 19.4 overs came after Shikhar Dhawan (41 off 22 balls) and Rohit Sharma (23 off 16 balls) provided a flying start to the innings. Earlier, Krunal Pandya took career-best figures of 4-36 as Australia were restricted to 164-6.

Australia won the opening T20 by four runs while the second game was a washout, putting additional pressure on India who came here at the back of winning six T20 series in a row. Chasing 165, Dhawan and Sharma put on 50 runs off just 28 balls. Both batsmen took the aerial route with aplomb and hit seven fours and four sixes between them to leave the Australian bowlers clueless. Overall, India scored 67-1 in the powerplay overs.

Mitchell Starc (1-26) had got the breakthrough in the sixth over, trapping Dhawan lbw via DRS referral. It put a momentary break on scoring as no runs were scored off the next eight balls, resulting in Sharma’s dismissal, who played on off Adam Zampa (1-22).

KL Rahul (14) started off by scoring a monster six, and added 41 runs for the third wicket with Kohli. India crossed 100 in the 12th over, but the former started struggling for timing and holed out shortly afterwards. It became a double blow as Rishabh Pant was out for a first-ball duck, gloving behind off a slower short ball from Andrew Tye (1-32).

India were in bit of a bother at that stage, but Kohli and Dinesh Karthik (22 not out off 18 balls) brought out their shots. The latter played a perfect foil to Kohli as he struck a four and a six to bring down the asking rate.

Test matches

Adelaide: India wins

Sumit Mukherjee, December 11, 2018: The Times of India

5 reasons why India on Adelaide Test;
Four records of captain Virat Kohli
From: December 11, 2018: The Times of India
Scoreboard- Test match- Adelaide, 2018 (Australia vs India, cricket)
From: Sumit Mukherjee, December 11, 2018: The Times of India

See graphics:

5 reasons why India on Adelaide Test;
Four records of captain Virat Kohli

Scoreboard- Test match- Adelaide, 2018 (Australia vs India, cricket)

India Win Test Series Opener For First Time In Australia As Bowlers Manage To Overcome Tailenders’ Resistance

The sweet smell of victory was in the air all morning but it was only at the stroke of tea that the last Australian wicket capitulated to signal the end of the home team’s resistance, and mark the beginning of a new era in Indian cricket.

The 31-run victory here on Monday was India’s third narrowest in terms of runs but was worth its weight in gold. For, never before in the 70-year history of Indo-Australian Test cricket had an Indian team won the series opener Down Under.

Overall, it was only India’s sixth Test victory on Australian soil and came after nearly 11 years since Anil Kumble’s team had pushed Ricky Ponting and Co. off their perch in Perth in January 2008.

The loss here stretched Australia’s winless streak to six matches — the longest since 2013.

Up 1-0 in the four-match series, India are now the odds-on favourite to retain the Border-Gavaskar Trophy after having got the better of the Aussies 2-1 at home in 2017. India will also be buoyed by the fact that no team in the last 50 years has lost the first Test in Australia and gone on to win the Test series.

Captain Virat Kohli’s clenchedfist celebration after Josh Hazlewood nicked a low catch off R Ashwin to KL Rahul at slip summed up the mood in the Indian camp. The margin was narrow and the Aussies stretched the game deep into the final day, but in the final analysis India were marginally better than the hosts, especially when it mattered most.

Kohli and his bravehearts will also take heart from the fact that but for the first session of the game — when the Australian pacers ruled the roost — they were always ahead of the opposition before assuming full control on the last two days.

There was no looking beyond Cheteshwar Pujara for the Man-ofthe-Match award. The unassuming No. 3 may not possess the class or flair of Rahul ‘The Wall’ Dravid, but his tight technique and unending reserves of patience make him a very effective ‘fence’ against any rival incursions.

After resurrecting India’s first innings with a fine 123, Pujara contributed a valuable 71 in the second and it was his fourth-wicket partnership with Ajinkya Rahane in the second innings that took the game away from Australia.

Australia, however, pushed India hard all the way in pursuit of a 323-run victory target. Resuming on 104 for 4, the home team battled hard and their last six wickets contributed 187 runs over five hours as they looked to pull off an unlikely win. It was not to be as India kept chipping away with wickets at regular intervals and Australia were finally bowled out for 291 in 119.5 overs.

Ishant Sharma dealt Australia an early blow by removing the dangerous Travis Head with a snorter that took the batsman by surprise and he managed to glove it to Rahane at gully after adding only three runs to his overnight tally of 11.

Shaun Marsh, who made up for his first-innings failure with a classy 60 off 166 balls, was Australia’s last hope. When Jasprit Bumrah induced a faint edge with a delivery that was angled into Marsh’s body, an hour before lunch, Australia slumped to 156 for 6.

Skipper Tim Paine, who had led by example in Dubai in October to force an honourable draw against Pakistan after batting out the entire last day, was again in his element. He put his head down and contributed a 73-ball 41, but when he miscued a pull against a short ball from Bumrah and got out, the end looked near.

6/149 Ashwin’s match figures, his best in a Test in Australia

86.5 Overs bowled by Ashwin in Adelaide, the most delivered by him in a Test, surpassing the 74.5 overs vs Aus in Mohali in March 2013

1 Cheteshwar Pujara has been adjudged MoM outside the subcontinent for the first time. Overall, he has received five such awards

Melbourne: India wins, gets 2-1 lead

Sumit Mukherjee, After Humbling Oz By 137 Runs At MCG, Kohli Targets Series Win, December 31, 2018: The Times of India

Highlights of the Boxing Day Melbourne test, Dec. 2018
From: December 31, 2018: The Times of India

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Highlights of the Boxing Day Melbourne test, Dec. 2018

Scoreboard- Test match- Melbourne, 2018, Australia vs India, cricket

Even inclement weather could not prevent the inevitable, though several spells of light rain delayed India’s victory in the Boxing Day Test at the MCG on Sunday. But when play finally started after the umpires decided on an early lunch, Indian bowlers needed less than five overs to wrap up the Australian innings.

Pat Cummins and Nathan Lyon managed to add just three runs to their overnight tally of 258 for 8 before Jasprit Bumrah induced a nick from the former that Cheteshwar Pujara held low down at first slip. Lyon then tried to pull a short ball from Ishant Sharma and got a top edge for Rishabh Pant to accept and bring the curtain down on a fascinating Test that India won by 137 runs.

Bumrah, who finished with career-best match figures of 9 for 86, was adjudged Man of the Match.

The victory is significant for many reasons. First and foremost, it was India’s 150th in Test matches, and third at the MCG. It handed India a 2-1 lead going into the Sydney Test which they only need to draw in order to register their maiden series win in Australia. The result also ensured that India would keep the Border-Gavaskar Trophy, irrespective of what happens in the final Test at the SCG.

India skipper Virat Kohli, though, made it clear that his team will go all out for victory in Sydney where the pitch traditionally helps the spinners.

India, who have thrice shared series honours in Australia — in 1980-81 (1-1), 1985-86 (0-0) and 2003-04 (1-1) — will be looking to press home the advantage they hold and make it a memorable new year in Sydney.

“We always knew that we could do this. Although we are very happy, we are not shocked or surprised about what has happened.”

Kohli, who wears his emotions on his sleeves, jumped for joy at the fall of Australia’s last wicket and embraced his teammates before acknowledging a sparse gathering of Indian supporters who had braved the weather and made it to the MCG despite the possibility of very little action.

Asked whether he had been a bit nervous about the inclement weather, Kohli said: “Not really. Some people in the (team) management group were having a look at that (forecast). We knew we had enough time.”

The Indian skipper, who was flayed by many experts for not enforcing the follow-on on Day 3, explained the rationale behind it. “We didn’t enforce the follow-on because when our bowlers bowled, it was really warm out there. We just wanted to give them enough break and a good night’s sleep so that they could come out fresh and have another go at the (rival) batsmen,” Kohli added.

2 For only the second time, India have registered two wins in a Test series in Australia. The first such instance was under BS Bedi in 1977-78 (India lost the rubber 2-3)

20 No of dismissals (all caught) by Rishabh Pant to become the first Indian WK to accomplish the feat in a Test series, going past Naren Tamahane (19 in 5 Tests, 1954-55) and Syed Kirmani (19 in 6 Tests in 1979-80) - both against Pakistan.

42 Pant with his tally of dismissals (40 catches+2 stumpings) in eight Tests has equalled the record for most dismissals by a WK in his debut year. Australia’s Brad Haddin had 42 dismissals in 11 Tests in 2008.


26 No of Test wins for Kohli as captain (in 45 Tests), just one short of the Indian record of 27 by Dhoni (60 Tests). Also, this was his 11th overseas win as captain (24 Tests), tying the Indian record of Sourav Ganguly - 11 in 28 Tests Stats: Rajesh Kumar

Slow scoring

Perth, 2018

Perth, 2018: India’s slowest 1st innings score in three decades
From: December 28, 2018: The Times of India

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Perth, 2018: India’s slowest 1st innings score in three decades.


For the remaining part of India’s 2018-19 tour of Australia, you may see Cricket, India: A history (2019)





Bengaluru: Australia wins match, series

Chethan Shivakumar, Manuja Veerppa, February 28, 2019: The Times of India

Scoreboard: Australia vs. India, cricket- T20Is- Bengaluru, 2019
From: Chethan Shivakumar, Manuja Veerppa, February 28, 2019: The Times of India

Maxwell’s 113* Helps Aussies Win 2nd T20I By 7 Wickets, Clinch Series 2-0

The contrast between Australia and India could not have been starker in the run-up to the twomatch T20 series. The visiting side is a work in progress and hadn’t won a T20 series in 12 months. Virat Kohli and his men, on the other hand, have been on a high and were favourites considering they hadn’t lost a T20 series to Australia in more than a decade.

However, the wait ended for Australia on a sultry Wednesday night as they made light of India’s challenging yet gettable total of 190, romping to a seven-wicket victory with two balls to spare.

After scoring a match-defining half-century in the first match, the big-hitting Glenn Maxwell had said he wasn’t sure of his place in the Australian side for the World Cup. But the all-rounder made a huge statement of intent with his unbeaten 55-ball-113 (7x4, 9x6) which ensured Australia crossed the finish line without much ado.

Maxwell stunned the packed home fans to silence with his aweinspiring performance. He took a few balls to get himself in and following the quick exit of Marcus Stoinis and skipper Aaron Finch, whose dry run with the bat continued, he focussed on settling down with D’Arcy Short (40, 28b, 6x4) and milked runs effectively yet with caution.

But once he cut loose, there was no stopping the right-handed batsman. He was at his entertaining best as he whacked, swept and made optimum use of the small M Chinnaswamy stadium boundary during his stay at the crease which lasted over an hour. Fittingly, he finished with a flourish, scoring a six and a winning four.

Earlier, KL Rahul (47, 26b, 3x4, 4x6), skipper Virat Kohli (72 n.o, 38b, 2x4, 6x6) and Mahendra Singh Dhoni (40, 23b, 3x4, 3x6) helped India to a competitive 190 for four.

While the visitors went in with an unchanged squad, India made three changes bringing in Shikhar Dhawan, Vijay Shankar and Siddharth Kaul for Rohit Sharma, Mayank Markande and Umesh Yadav.

Put into bat by the visitors, India were off to a rather quiet start before Rahul dispatched Jason Behrendorff to the boundary to set the tone for his entertaining knock. Playing in his backyard, Rahul reduced his opening partner Dhawan, who struggled to time the ball, to a spectator as he went about dismantling the Australian bowling attack.

Rahul fell short of his second consecutive half-century as he holed out to Behrendorff at third man off the first ball of Nathan Coulter-Nile.

Dhawan looked ill at ease at the crease and struggled to time the ball. His stay at the crease came to an end in a rather contentious way. The opener was caught by Stoinis at sweeper cover off Behrendorff. Television replays suggested the ball had grazed the grass before Stoinis got his hands on it. With the umpire’s soft signal saying out, after a length deliberation, third umpire Nitin Menon went with the field umpires’ call.

Rishabh Pant did himself no favours during his brief visit to the crease which ended with Richardson running in from long-off to take a breathtaking catch off Short.

Pant’s exit brought together two of India’s finest cricketers and what followed was pure magic as they attacked the bowlers with gusto with a 49-ball 100 partnership.



JAC Gladson, THE DHONI & JADHAV SHOW, March 3, 2019: The Times of India

Australia vs. India, cricket: ODIs- Hyderabad, 2019
From: JAC Gladson, THE DHONI & JADHAV SHOW, March 3, 2019: The Times of India

Duo Takes India Safely Past 237-Run Target After Bowlers Impress In First One-Dayer

Indian skipper Virat Kohli had no choice but to chase after he lost his third straight toss in this series on Saturday. “To chase is a preferred option,” the skipper said, because “the team is good at it”. And his team didn’t disappoint, pulling off a six-wicket win chasing 237 to take the lead in this fivematch One-day International series here at the Rajiv Gandhi International Stadium.

Despite the slow nature of the Hyderabad wicket, the Indians ticked most boxes, even winning with 10 deliveries to spare. The 1-0 lead was set up by incisive bowling up front by Mohammad Shami and Jasprit Bumrah and effectively controlled by Kuldeep Yadav and Ravindra Jadeja in the middle overs.

MS Dhoni (59*; 72b, 4x6, 6x1) and Kedar Jadhav (81*; 87b, 4x9, 6x1) then clinically executed the chase with their 141-run unbroken partnership for the fifth wicket as India finished at 240 for four.

Shikhar Dhawan did not trouble the scorers and Rohit Sharma miscued a shot when set for a bigger score (37; 66b, 4x5). The 76-run stand between Sharma and Kohli set the platform for India’s chase, but with the skipper succumbing to leggie Adam Zampa for 44 (45b, 4x6, 6x1) in a LBW decision the Australians reviewed successfully, the Aussies would have fancied their chances, especially after Ambati Rayudu too fell cheaply.

They had not reckoned with Dhoni, though. With Dhoni playing the guiding role, Jadhav adapted well to the surface and together they whittled down the equation to 48 runs from 48 balls before Jadhav switched gears. Zampa had bowled an excellent second spell of 3-0-9-1 to stifle the chase, but with Dhoni adroitly marshalling the chase, the visitors failed to stop the flow just as they had failed to get going earlier in the day.

The Aussies fired in fits and starts while making 236 for seven – the lowest in this format at this venue.

The best phase of their innings was the 87-run stand for the second wicket between Usman Khawaja and Marcus Stoinis after a ripper from Bumrah kissed the glove of skipper Aaron Finch on way to MS Dhoni. It was definitely not the kind of dismissal Finch would have wanted, but there was little he could do to the third delivery he faced in his 100th match.

That the Australians had only five boundaries and one six in the first 10 overs and added 63 in the last 10 is an indication of the stranglehold the Indian bowlers had over them. From overs 20 to 40, the visitors lost five wickets for 80 runs.

Khawaja’s 50 (76b, 5x4, 6x1) spared Australia the blushes but he and Stoinis were totally restrained in the initial phase when Shami, back in the squad after missing the T20Is, and Bumrah gave little away. The former’s first spell read an impressive 4-2-6-0, while Bumrah had some success to show in his first spell of 4-1-17-1.

The Khawaja-Stoinis duo looked good when they looked to milch the bowling of Vijay Shankar, whose three overs cost 22 runs.

The fifth bowler problem is something the Indians will look to fix in the time they have before the World Cup, which is four games after this. Shankar shared the fifth bowler’s responsibility here with Kedar Jadhav after India rested Yuzvendra Chahal and played Ravindra Jadeja, who bowled a tidy spell.

Nagpur: India wins

March 6, 2019: The Times of India

Australia vs. India, cricket: ODIs- Nagpur, 2019
From: March 6, 2019: The Times of India

Kohli’s 40th Ton, Shankar’s Last Over Sway Close Affair India’s Way

Cricket can be a great leveller. Vijay Shankar was brutally trolled when he played out a maiden over to Mustafizur Rehman in the Nidahas Cup final last year. Shankar was trending again, but this time for the right reasons. While the all-rounder has shown glimpses of his batting talent, his bowling was yet to be tested.

Skipper Virat Kohli, who had earlier set the tone with a masterful 116 (120b, 10x4), handed over the ball to Shankar with Australia needing 11 runs off the last over. Shankar had not taken a wicket in his previous five matches. He couldn’t have asked for a better time to pick his first — the medium pacer trapped Marcus Stoinis (52; 65b, 4x4, 1x6) off the first ball and then cleaned up Adam Zampa to give India a fighting eight-run victory in the second ODI on Tuesday.

Shankar’s super show came after Jasprit Bumrah (10-0-29-2) swung the game India’s way with the two important wickets of Nathan Coulter-Nile and Pat Cummins in the 46th over, when Australia needed just a run-a-ball. Australian hopes were relying on Stoinis, who took the game deep and backed himself to finish before Shankar did the job for India. Chasing 251, Australian were bowled out for 242 in 49.3 overs to lose their fourth successive match at VCA’s Jamtha stadium.

The Tamil Nadu allrounder soaked up the pressure extremely well, both while batting and bowling. On a sluggish Jamtha wicket, Shankar batted fluently while giving company to Kohli, who built the framework for India’s innings with his 40th ton. Unlike his other teammates, Kohli adapted to the difficult batting conditions and constructed his innings extremely well to help India reach the 250-run mark.

India had lost Rohit Sharma and Shikhar Dhawan inside the first 10 overs. Ambati Rayudu got his eye in but could not carry on. Shankar joined Kohli in the middle and made batting look relatively easy with some excellent strokeplay. The 81-run fourthwicket stand between Kohli and Shankar gave India some muchneeded momentum.

Shankar, however, was dismissed in an unfortunate manner when Kohli drove straight to Zampa. The ball touched the bowler’s fingers on its way to the stumps and Shankar was caught inches out of the crease. His wicket pegged back India’s progress. Zampa then struck a double blow when he sent back Kedar Jadhav and MS Dhoni off successive balls. Kohli and Ravindra Jadeja added 67 for the seventh wicket to give some respectability to the Indian total. Pat Cummins broke the stand and went on to record his best away ODI figures.

Australia’s batsmen came out with positive intent. Skipper Aaron Finch (37; 53b, 5x4, 1x6) found some form and laid the foundation with Usman Khawaja (38; 37b, 6x4), the duo adding 83 runs for the opening stand. Both got out in the space of six deliveries but Peter Handscomb (48; 59b, 4x4), Stoinis and wicketkeeper Alex Carey (22; 24b, 2x4) held firm even as experienced Shaun Marsh and Glenn Maxwell got out in quick succession. Stoinis and Handscomb batted well before Jadeja’s brilliance got rid of the latter.

It was Kuldeep Yadav who brought India back every time Australia looked in control.

Ranchi: Australia beats India

Sam Chakraborty, In Oz vs Kohli, visitors win, March 9, 2019: The Times of India

Australia vs. India, cricket- ODIs- Ranchi, 2019
From: Sam Chakraborty, In Oz vs Kohli, visitors win, March 9, 2019: The Times of India

Captain Is His Usual Majestic Self But Gets Little Support From Team

On a day when Indian cricketers wore specially-designed camouflage army caps on the field to pay homage to the Pulwama martyrs of February 14, underdogs Australia authored a 32-run victory in the third One-Day international to keep their hopes alive in the fivematch series. It turned out to be a fantastic Friday for the tourists who can now head to Mohali for the fourth ODI on Sunday with everything to play for.

Australia amassed 313 for five in their 50 overs before bowling India out for 281 in 48.2 overs under lights at JSCA International Stadium. However, just the numbers and the series scoreline do not do justice to the superlative show of batsmanship put up by two individuals who are like chalk and cheese — man-of-thematch Usman Khawaja and India skipper Virat Kohli.

Asked to bat by the Indian captain, Khawaja, in the company of Kohli’s counterpart Aaron Finch, cracked his maiden ODI hundred and in the process, went on to add 193 runs for the opening wicket, registering Australia’s third highest opening stand in 50-overs cricket against India. The left-handed Australian opener got 104 runs with the help of 11 boundaries and a six.

Khawaja had always been thought of as a great talent in Australian cricket whose temperament was suspect. On a war m Friday after noon on a benign surface, he decided to address that question. The eloquent drives, the perfectlytimed cuts and the short-arm pulls — all of it was on display from the Queensland batsman as the Indian bowlers and fielders wilted under the onslaught.

While it was Finch who was the more aggressive of the two and unintentionally managed to send Mohammed Shami out of action for a considerable period after his straight drive struck the pacer on his right shin, Khawaja made good a reprieve when Shikhar Dhawan dropped him off Ravindra Jadeja at 17.

Finch, who also deserved a century, fell just seven runs short. Glenn Maxwell played a characteristic cameo, while Marcus Stoinis and Alex Carey played their part.

Then Pat Cummins ran in and bowled with venom. Rohit Sharma and Ambati Rayudu were bitten. Cummins was quick, fast and everything the Australian pacers have been lacking in recent times. At the other end, Jhye Richardson got rid of an out-of-form Dhawan and India were tottering at 27 for three.

Kohli had walked in at No. 3, and had the local boy, MS Dhoni, probably playing his last international match in front of his home crowd, for company. The duo staged a mini recovery, adding 59

runs for the fourth wicket. Dhoni flexed his muscles, adjusted his gloves routinely but apart from the two boundaries and a six over the mid-wicket boundary, gave his city little to cheer about.

His departure prompted the Indian captain to change gears. With Kedar Jadhav at the other end, Kohli brought out the full repertoire of strokes as he tore into the Australian bowlers. It was Kohli the chasemaster at his best. Adam Zampa, Stoinis, Richardson and Nathan Lyon were cut, hooked and drove with purpose, poise and precision.

Even Jadhav’s fall after an 88-run fifth-wicket partnership could do little to slow him down. Soon enough, Kohli brought up his 41st century with the help of 14 boundaries, becoming the fastest captain to reach 4000 runs in ODI history, in just 63 innings.

In the end, it was the upward movement of the required rate that got the better of him. Zampa castled him for an exquisite 123 of 95 balls. With him, India’s hopes were put out. Yes, Vijay Shankar did clobber a few but those were far from enough.

Mohali: Australia win over India

Australia vs. India, cricket: ODIs- Mohali, 2019
From: Partha Bhaduri, March 11, 2019: The Times of India

See graphic:

Australia vs. India, cricket: ODIs- Mohali, 2019

New Delhi: Australia wins match, series

Australia vs. India, cricket- ODIs- New Delhi, 2019
From: Hindol Basu, THE BUBBLE BURSTS, March 14, 2019: The Times of India

See graphic:

Australia vs. India, cricket- ODIs- New Delhi, 2019



Sydney: Australia beat India

November 27, 2020: The Times of India

India vs Australia: Poor bowling costs India opening ODI despite valiant Hardik Pandya show

SYDNEY: Hardik Pandya's career-best effort wasn't good enough to compensate for a forgettable bowling effort as India slumped to a 66-run defeat against Australia in the first ODI, making a rather unimpressive start to the tour.

Virat Kohli's men started exactly on a note they wouldn't have liked, giving away 374 runs in 50 overs with rival captain Aaron Finch (114 off 124 balls) and his illustrious predecessor Steve Smith (105 off 66 balls) hitting contrasting hundreds.

A pitch that looked docile during the first half suddenly came to life in the second as Josh Hazlewood (3/55) bounced out the Indian top-order, including Kohli and a frightened Shreyas Iyer, who got himself into a tangle.

Pandya's 76-ball 90 and a 128-run stand with senior opener Shikhar Dhawan (74 off 86 balls) delayed the inevitable but it was always a catch-up game after the team was reduced to 101 for 4 inside 14 overs.

Big-hearted leg-spinner Adam Zampa (4/54 in 10 overs) dismissed Dhawan and Pandya in quick succession as India surrendered to scoreboard pressure finishing at 308/8 after 50 overs.

Pandya, who hit seven fours and four sixes, carried his blazing IPL batting form into the first game of the series but it was his fast-medium bowling that Kohli missed on the day as he lacked options when Smith sent his regular bowlers on a leather-hunt.

India badly missed a sixth bowling option with none of their specialist batters good enough to roll their arms for even two to three overs.

It was a day when the bowling unit barring Mohammed Shami (3/59 in 10 overs) flopped badly and poor fielding only added to their woes.

As many as three sitters were dropped and numerous sloppy efforts on the field added to the misery.

The normally steady Yuzvendra Chahal (1/89 in 10 overs) earned the ignominy of worst figures by an Indian spinner and Jasprit Bumrah's wretched ODI form (1/73 in 10 overs) continued.

India's fastest bowler Navdeep Saini (1/83 in 10 overs) also struggled like any newcomer does, unable to hit the right length on Australian tracks.

Ravindra Jadeja (0/63 in 10 overs) wasn't as costly as Chahal but since the past two and half months, his bowling has lacked sting.

India's eternal nemesis Smith seems ready to torment them a lot in next two months if his 11 fours and four sixes were any indication on Friday.

Not for once was he troubled by the Indian bowlers, who were already under the pump after a 156-run opening stand between Finch and David Warner (69).

A lot of credit should go to Warner and Finch for the manner in which they attacked Chahal.

While Finch used his feet to smother the spin and play against the turn, Warner stayed back in the crease to hit Chahal with the turn, disturbing his line and length completely.

It helped as Smith and Maxwell (45 off 19 balls) had no problems in flaying the bowlers during the last 10 overs.

While chasing, Mitchell Starc's wayward first over that cost 20 runs did give India the much required impetus at the onset but Hazlewood's splendid short bowling saw the end of Mayank Agarwal (22 off 18 balls), Kohli (21 in 21 balls) leaving the visitors out of sorts in a jiffy.

Vice-captain KL Rahul (12) couldn't keep down an innocuous full-toss from Zampa and India were in deep trouble even before 15 overs had ended.

A high percentage of dot balls (148) in the Indian innings also showed how only one team dominated the proceedings.

India wins Canberra match; loses series 1-2

K ShriniwasRao, December 3, 2020: The Times of India

Scoreboard, India vs. Australia, Canberra: ODIs- as in December 2020
From: K ShriniwasRao, December 3, 2020: The Times of India


India Avoid Clean Sweep, Break String Of 7 International Defeats With 13-Run Victory In Final ODI

India will carry, with great confidence, two positives from the comfortable victory over Australia at the Manuka Oval in Canberra on Wednesday. First, the self-belief that they can beat this Australian team. Second, the self-belief that they can actually win a toss!

Two things that hadn’t happened since Virat Kohli and his team landed there last month, happened in an inconsequential One-dayer that the visitors won by 13 runs. India won a toss and a game. The uncertainties of white-ball cricket, over the years, have gone up many notches given the innovations in the game. And yet, the oldest uncertainty of them all — the flip of the coin — has made these contests conversely predictable.

Manuka Oval behaved on the lines of the SCG, except the boundaries were relatively shorter, and therefore promised that bit more. On a track as easy-going as this one, India could have — or rather should have — ended up with a far better score than the eventual 302-5 they managed. To think that 348-8 had been the lowest score here in the last four ODIs before this one, and the lop-sided toss-dictated result had already said a lot about this venue. Australia tried doing things differently, handing Glenn Maxwell the new ball alongside Josh Hazlewood. There’s little Maxwell hasn’t been able to do in Aussie colours after all. Shikhar Dhawan looked like he had walked out expecting a lot of pace. It all appeared a bit awkward right from the word go and the left-hander fell at 16 to a bizarre driving attempt.

The young Shubman Gill played far more freely, allowing Kohli to take his time to settle down. However, it wasn’t until the unbeaten sixth-wicket partnership between the irrepressible and in-form Hardik Pandya and an equally belligerent Ravindra Jadeja that the Indian team finally found the muscle to go past 300 runs. From 152-5 and close to 18 overs left – by the time Kohli had departed – India had a lot of work to do to stay in the game.

Shreyas Iyer and KL Rahul, the expected batting bulwarks, had seen another bad day at work. On Pandya and Jadeja’s shoulders rested the responsibility and they delivered. It wasn’t going to come any easy, not with the way the Aussies fielded. India barely crept past 200 post the 40th over and it would take another 25 to 30 deliveries for this partnership to cross 100 runs and bloom.

An upper-cut six over point from Pandya off Abbott followed by a six over mid-wicket from Jadeja off Josh Hazlewood brought out the script India were looking for when they had elected to bat first. Even if it came a little late in the day, it would end up providing the necessary impetus.

Getting 303 would be easy for Australia, it first appeared. The first big ray of hope came when Marnus Labuschagne fell early. A bigger shot in the arm came five overs later, when Steve Smith departed. Skipper Aaron Finch stayed on, but the chase got relatively sluggish.

The Aussies, for the first time in a week, were under pressure. That is precisely what India had to do in this game, regardless of the result. Despite some very poor fielding and catches dropped, and another gem of a halfcentury from the big-hitting Maxwell, India cruised through. Now that they have one win to account for, the T20s can begin on a fresh note.


Canberra: India wins

Gaurav Gupta, December 5, 2020: The Times of India

Scoreboard, India vs. Australia, T20Is- Canberra, December 2020
From: Gaurav Gupta, December 5, 2020: The Times of India

Yuzvendra Chahal spent the first half of the game wondering why he had been dropped from the playing XI in the very first T20I, especially since he finished as the leading wicket-taker among spinners in the IPL. Clearly, his poor form in the ODIs (160 runs in 19 overs in two games with just one wicket) had persuaded the team management to omit him.

However, by the end of the game, the wiry leg-spinner was smiling from ear to ear, having just become the first concussion substitute ever to win the ‘Man of the Match’ award, taking 3/25 in four overs to play a huge part in India’s 11-run win over Australia in Canberra.

India replaced Ravindra Jadeja, who was struggling with a hamstring injury towards the end of his brilliant unbeaten 44 (23b, 5x4, 1x6), with Chahal coming in as concussion substitute at the innings break. Jadeja was feeling dizzy after being struck on the helmet by a Starc bouncer.

And what impact Chahal had on the game. After their openers — skipper Aaron Finch and D’Arcy Short — raced to 54 in seven overs, the Aussies looked on course to get to the 162-run target without much sweat. However, on came the leggie in the eighth over, and off his fourth ball, Finch, while trying to strike it out of the ground, lobbed it to long off, where Hardik Pandya sprinted almost 20 yards to pull off a blinder. India got the breakthrough they desperately needed.

Soon, Chahal got the visitors the most-wanted wicket. Steve Smith (12) went for a slog-sweep, and Sanju Samson, like he does often in the IPL, caught a stunner at deep mid-wicket, diving acrobatically. Later, Chahal dismissed Matthew Wade to end up with three top-order wickets as Australia finished at 150 for seven.

Earlier, for the second time in a row, Jadeja, having cracked an unbeaten 66 in the last ODI in similar circumstances, bailed India out of a tough situation. After putting India in, the Aussies looked to be in control of the game when they had Shikhar Dhawan (1), skipper Virat Kohli (9), Manish Pandey (2), and Sanju Samson (23 off 15 balls) out without much on the board. When they also lost KL Rahul, who scored a fluent 40-ball 51 (5x4, 1x6), and Hardik Pandya (16) to be 114/6 in 17 overs, the visitors seemed to be heading nowhere.

However, Jadeja helped India plunder 57 in the last four overs to take the total to 161 for seven. The aggressive left-hander hit three fours and a six off Josh Hazlewood to take 23 off the 19th over. However, India’s eighth consecutive T20I win wasn’t just about Chahal, Jadeja, or the controversy around the substitution. Apart from Rahul with the bat, there were contributors with the ball too.

After a decent ODI debut two days ago, Thangarasu Natarajan enjoyed an excellent T20I debut, taking three for 30 in four overs, while firing in his trademark deadly yorkers like he did all of the IPL. The left-arm pacer from Tamil Nadu got India the crucial wicket of Glenn Maxwell (2) before scalping Short and Starc. His arrival has given India a fantastic pace-bowling option, which has enabled them to rest Jasprit Bumrah for this game.

Offie Washington Sundar did what he does best, giving away just 16 runs in his four overs, two of which came in the powerplay, as India chose to start with him with the ball. Deepak Chahar swung the ball a bit, and only Shami (46 off his four overs) was expensive.

Sydney: Australia wins match, loses series 1-2

Saibal Bose, December 9, 2020: The Times of India

How costly can a denied review call prove to be? Quite a lot, as India learnt the hard way on Tuesday. Matthew Wade, on 50 then, went on to add another 30 runs. More importantly, the Australia opener played a supportive role to Glenn Maxwell in a 90-run third-wicket partnership that became the backbone of Australia’s challenging 186. The total proved enough for the Aussies to win the third T20I in Sydney on Tuesday and salvage some pride in a series that was already decided in India’s favour.

Virat Kohli, fielding in the deep, might not have been aware how close T Natarajan’s delivery was to the stumps when it crashed into Wade’s pads. However, wicketkeeper and vice-captain KL Rahul could have reacted a little earlier.

By the time Kohli signalled for a review, the replay was already on the giant screen. Was it shown too early? At least Kohli said so. As the replays showed, Wade would have been out legbefore and a golden opportunity was missed. If the replay had indeed encroached into the permitted time to seek a review, the TV crew will definitely have a lot to answer for.

India eventually ended at 174/7, 12 runs short of Australia, and Kohli will surely rue the missed review. He will also rue the Yuzvendra Chahal no-ball a couple of overs later, which saw Maxwell skying one to be caught and almost walking back to the pavilion. Maxwell’s 54 was as crucial as Wade’s 80, even though the middle-order batsman continued to live a charmed life. Dropped on 38 by Deepak Chahar, he made the most of his chances, playing switch-hits with abandon even as the debate on this shot rages.

Even Kohli, who scored a brilliant 85, latched on to an early lifeline. Steve Smith let a sitter slip through when the India skipper was on nine. Rarely does the opposition go unpunished after dropping Kohli. Smith would have had his heart in the mouth as long as Kohli was there.

On Tuesday, the India skipper did not have enough support from the others. Shikhar Dhawan was the next best at 28. The magic of Hardik Pandya did not work, although there was a brief glimmer of hope. Needing a steep 76 runs from 30 balls, which incidentally has never been successfully chased in the last five overs before, things appeared impossible, even with Kohli and Pandya at the crease. But a 20-run over off Daniel Sams, and the match was on.

However, the euphoria was shortlived as Adam Zampa, in the 18th over, had Pandya mistime one. The contest was virtually over and with Kohli’s departure soon after. India perhaps lost the match in the middle overs, when they could not collect enough runs with spin mostly in play. A required run-rate of around 15 in the last 5-6 overs is always difficult. It would be too much to expect Pandya to deliver every time.

Aaron Finch, in his comeback from injury, could not contribute with the bat, but his captaincy and bowling changes were spot on. Rotating his bowlers, mixing spin and pace, getting the field placings right were some of his high points.


India's lowest totals in tests, 1947- 2020
From: Partha Bhaduri, December 20, 2020: The Times of India

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India's lowest totals in tests, 1947- 2020

Adelaide: Australia crushes India

Australia crushed India in the Adelaide test
From: December 20, 2020: The Times of India
Scoreboard- Tests- Adelaide: Australia vs. India, 2020

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Australia crushed India in the Adelaide test

Scoreboard- Tests- Australia vs. India, 2020

Melbourne: India wins

Nitin Naik, December 30, 2020: The Times of India

Details: India vs. Australia, cricket, Tests, Melbourne, 2020
From: December 30, 2020: The Times of India
Scoreboard: India vs. Australia, cricket, Tests, Melbourne, 2020
From: Nitin Naik, December 30, 2020: The Times of India

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Details: India vs. Australia, cricket, Tests, Melbourne, 2020

Scoreboard: India vs. Australia, cricket, Tests, Melbourne, 2020

It would have been easy for us to get bogged down thinking about Adelaide, but we decided to not do that. We wanted to come in with intent and attitude,” were Indian captain Ajinkya Rahane’s first words after collecting his man of the match award.

Rahane had just orchestrated one of India’s most memorable overseas Test wins, with India pocketing the second game of the Border-Gavaskar Trophy by eight wickets in Melbourne.

Rahane’s India showed both ‘intent’ and ‘attitude’ in abundance. Over four days, the tourists advertised a full-course meal of grit, skill and discipline. The discipline, in particular, enabled even rookie bowlers to suffocate their rivals for long periods by stringing together an endless garland of dots.

Bumrah and Ashwin served fans the starters on Boxing Day, helping India bowl out Australia for 195. Rahane and Jadeja provided the main course with their partnership on Day Two, helping the team take a 131-run lead. The performance of debutants Mohammed Siraj and Shubman Gill was the icing on the cake as India first bowled out Australia for 200 and then chased down 70 for the loss of Mayank Agarwal and Cheteshwar Pujara.

Rahane’s praise was fulsome for his two newcomers. “Shubman has done well in first-class cricket, showed intent and composure. Siraj bowled with a lot of discipline. Sometimes as debutants, you can get carried away, but guys who play firstclass cricket for four-five years know what to do, it makes a captain’s job easier.”

Captain’s job easy? Anything but. Not when you are down to four bowlers (after Umesh Yadav’s injury) who had already bowled their souls out on a wicket that was getting increasingly flatter and devoid of nip, turn or bounce.

Not when Australia’s lower-order batsmen were making a good case to audition as brand ambassadors for adhesive companies.

Cameron Green and Pat Cummins, who had batted out 18 overs on Day Three, looked more stubborn on Day Four. Defending balls was not proving to be too difficult a task. Scoring though was, with Australia barely scoring at over a run an over.

It was because Rahane had plugged areas where easy runs could be scored. He employed a third man, put a man on the hook and had a deep cover or deep point. Even if Australia’s lead would build, it would build slowly. For the spinners, he either had a long on or long off. All the time, though, he also had men in catching positions. This was a classic in-out field. India took the new ball almost immediately when it was due. Australia had gone ahead by only 18. Armed with the new ball, Bumrah bounced out Cummins.

Green, meanwhile, defended stoutly and even dished out a couple of rasping cuts. But the spirited Siraj got one to hurry through the tall West Australian, hitting the splice of the bat as Green attempted a pull and spooned one to Jadeja at mid-wicket.

Nathan Lyon too gloved Siraj to the wicketkeeper and with Australia nine down, the umpires extended play for half an hour instead of calling for lunch.

Ravichandran Ashwin, after a few close calls, got a confused Hazlewood to leave a delivery that hit off-stump. Australia were all out for 200 and India’s target was 70. When both Agarwal and Pujara fell to nicks behind the stumps to Starc and Cummins respectively, India were 19 for 2. Memories of 36 all out must have resurfaced. Gill, who was not carrying any baggage of that carnage, stroked a few boundaries to chip away at the target and by the time the calm Rahane crashed Hazlewood through cover on the up, the famed Aussie fighting spirit had evaporated.

It was fitting that Rahane hit the winning runs off Lyon, a pleasure only his great idol Rahul Dravid has derived as an Indian in Australia, in Adelaide in 2003.

While that win was memorable too, it wasn’t achieved against the odds. This one definitely was.

Sydney: the match is drawn

Avijit Ghosh, January 12, 2021: The Times of India

They battled pain, defied sledging, outlived umpiring howlers and stonewalled a world-class attack in its backyard. At Sydney Cricket Ground, Hanuma Vihari and Ravichandra Ashwin embodied “passive resistance” and true grit to revive the lost art of saving a Test match and produce a draw that felt like a victory. If you ever need two cricketers to bat for your life, you know whom to call.

There were three long hours left and over 40 overs to go when India’s finest defender Cheteshwar Pujara departed for a stoic 77. That’s when Ashwin, “who couldn’t bend down to tie his shoelaces in the morning” walked out to meet a hobbling Vihari, racked by a torn hamstring, unable to run. In the pavilion, another injured trooper, Ravindra Jadeja had put on his pads. The rest were rabbits. The Aussies were close to landing the knock-out punch to a team resembling an injury ward.

Vihari & Ashwin’s fortitude day’s highlight

Vihari and Ashwin batted like soldiers making a last stand. Vihari, fighting for his place in the playing 11, passed the sternest test of his technique and character. Ashwin took blows all over his torso. If there was a Veer Chakra for batting, the two would have received the award.

Both gathered strength from each other, exchanging words of wisdom in Tamil. Together, they turned batting into comradeship. They didn’t play shots that make the highlights package; but their fortitude was the day’s highlight, despite Rishabh Pant’s crackerjack 97. They put on 62 undefeated runs -- and sacrificed as many due to Vihari’s injury -- facing 256 relentless deliveries. Vihari scored the greatest 23 not out in India’s Test history. Ashwin may take a 15-wicket haul someday but this 39 will always have a special place in his autobiography. Not since the Oval in 1979 had India batted so many overs to save an away Test. Post-2002, India had never even survived 100 overs in the fourth innings. On Monday, they batted for 131 overs for safety.

Old timers remember Anshuman Gaekwad’s unflinching 81 against a hostile Caribbean attack in Kingston, 1976. Kapil Dev bowled India to an improbable victory with a fractured toe in Melbourne, 1981. A broken jaw couldn’t stop Anil Kumble from bowling in Antigua, 2002. Monday’s “till death do us part” stand belongs to that select cherished group. Even in this era of fleeting memories, this partnership will live, be retold. In time, it will morph into folklore: how one January day, Vihari and Ashwin came to the pitch as batters and left as warriors.

Perhaps, if Aussie captain Tim Paine had opened his mouth less and shut his gloves faster, it might have been a different story. Now the draw improves India’s chances of retaining the Border-Gavaskar trophy. Australia, who indulged in blatant gamesmanship, needs a win to wrench it back. India has some bitter memories of Brisbane, where the fourth and last Test begins on Jan 15. But captain Ajinka Rahane’s Team India can justifiably say, “We are not interested in reading history, we only want to make it”.

Smith, Paine draw flak for antics

From ‘brain fade’ to ‘Sandpapergate’, Steve Smith is no stranger to controversies. On Monday, he was at it again, when the stump camera caught him scuffing out Rishabh Pant’s batting guard during a drinks break. Later, skipper Tim Paine was heard abusing Ashwin in a bid to disturb his concentration.

Brisbane: Injured India wins match, series

Partha Bhaduri, January 20, 2021: The Times of India

Scoreboard- India vs. Australia, cricket, Tests, Brisbane, 2020-21
From: Ehtesham Hasan, January 20, 2021: The Times of India

India’s cricketers scripted a fairytale on a dramatic final hour of the final day of the final Test of an already unforgettable series, beating the hosts by 3 wickets. India have now won two Test series in Australia in three years. Australia have only won one series in India in the past 50 years. India is also the first Asian side to win a Test at the Gabba.

This was arguably India’s greatest Test win overseas and definitely their finest series victory ever. The result was accomplished against a bestin-the-world Australian bowling attack by a bunch of bravehearts, many of whom had come straight off the bench.

India won with a bowling attack with a combined experience of 4 Tests coming into Brisbane. They won in spite of having to use 20 players in the series. They won when the world had written off their batting abilities. They won in spite of their bowlers falling like dominoes. They believed, obstinately and vehemently.

India needed only a draw to retain the Border-Gavaskar trophy. That would have been a miracle in itself. Nobody seriously expected them to go for a steep target of 329 on a fifth day pitch at the Gabba.

But the extremely talented Rishabh Pant, a flag-waver for the next-gen Indian cricketer who hasn’t yet learnt to take a backward step, had other plans. ‘New India’ played to win and succeeded, marking an important line in the sand. Along with the steely Cheteshwar Pujara and the sensational Shubman Gill, India timed a tall, seemingly impossible chase to perfection.

‘New India’ raids the ‘Gabbattoir’

Just three Tests ago, India had plumbed the depths of 36 all out in the first Test. From that drubbing in Adelaide to victories in Melbourne and at the Gabba, and a resolute draw in Sydney where Pant again nearly pulled off the impossible, is a turnaround that will go down as one of the greatest underdog stories in modern sport.

“You don’t just play and love Test cricket for nothing,” tweeted the great Vivian Richards.

A battered, bruised India lacked nearly all of their key personnel and complained vehemently about suffocating lifestyle restrictions coming into this Test. At one point, it looked as if the ‘Battle of Brisbane’ wouldn’t even happen, thanks to the pandemic.

Yet, brilliantly led by a calm, astute stand-in captain in Ajinkya Rahane, running on net bowlers, youthful adrenaline and the audacity of hope, ‘New India’ raided the ‘Gabbatoir’, a fortress which hasn’t been breached by any visiting side since 1988. India did so by scoring 329 runs in the fourth innings, 325 of those on Tuesday, the fourth most ever scored on a wearing final-day pitch by a winning side.

“Young India is showing they are not afraid,” gushed former captain Sunil Gavaskar, while coach Ravi Shastri explained how this squad wasn’t built in a day, but was instead a multi-year process in building bench strength and keeping the faith in budding talent.

Regular captain Virat Kohli may have been absent after Adelaide, but his “New India” jibe before the series doesn’t sound so cheeky now. Some of his famed fearlessness has rubbed off on this team. Shastri too was a dogged cricketer, and his presence seems to have helped.

Shane Warne dubbed India’s win “cricket’s version of the ‘Thrilla in Manilla’”, the memorable Ali-Frazier 1975 heavyweight boxing bout. Indeed, the image of a courageous Pujara, who played 928 balls in this series, soaking up multiple blows to the head, fingers, knuckles, ribs and forearms like a sponge and still coming back for more defined India’s campaign.


Ehtesham Hasan, January 20, 2021: The Times of India

Injured India won the match and series at Brisbane
From: January 20, 2021: The Times of India

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Injured India won the match and series at Brisbane

Any suggestion of India hunting down 328 runs on the last day of a gruelling Test series in Australia would have been treated as bluster and a case of misplaced optimism. It was ‘The Gabba’ after all — an unconquerable Australian fortress where visiting sides had not won in the last 32 years.

The Indian team, however, thumbed its nose at that piece of history to record one of its greatest Test triumphs.

The three-wicket victory, which came with only three overs to spare, was a sensational and befitting climax to the series that saw India come through tough times to regain the Border-Gavaskar Trophy. The ‘sweet win’, as stand-in skipper, Ajinkya Rahane put it, came on the back of three exceptional performances as skills and thrills were supplied in good measure by Shubman Gill, Cheteshwar Pujara and Rishabh Pant.

The last time when India had won the series back 2018-19 with a similar margin (2-1), the experts kept pointing at Steve Smith and David Warner’s absence. The experienced Aussie batsmen had been banned for their role in the ball-tampering controversy.

What makes this success sweeter is that Smith and Warner were both part of the team on this occasion and what’s more, India were without their regular captain Virat Kohli and their firstchoice bowling attack. Unlike the past, where most Indians would look to bat out the last day to eke out a draw, this team has shown its intent to chase targets. They came close in Sydney but pulled it off in Brisbane.

Opener Gill had set the tone with his compelling 91, while Cheteshwar Pujara took several blows on his body to hose down the fire breathing Aussie quicks with a patient 56 and Pant carried his team home with a gritty 89.

India benefited greatly from Pujara’s presence in the middle. The batting mainstay was the anchor Team India depended upon to keep them afloat. He faced 211 deliveries and was involved in two crucial partnerships, first with Gill (114) for the second wicket and then with Pant (61) for the fourth wicket.

Pujara copped almost a dozen hits to his body. He was struck on the head, arms, shoulders, and had pieces flying from his helmet. Only once did he grimace in pain when a rising Josh Hazlewood delivery crashed into his knuckles. But the 32-year-old kept soldiering on, soaking all the pressure for his partners and in the process tired the Australian bowlers out.

Pant made sure India were within reach of the target with his calculated approach. The 23-year-old playing in his 18th Test, took debutant Washington Sundar under his wings after Mayank Agarwal was dismissed as the game headed into the last hour. He was lucky to get a let-off by Australian skipper Tim Paine, who messed up a stumping opportunity provided by Nathan Lyon in the 69th over.

Pant struck nine boundaries and a six in his 138-ball effort. The left-hander added 55 runs with Sundar, who once again impressed with his calm demeanour in the heat of the battle.

With seven overs remaining and another 50 needed, Sundar hooked Pat Cummins for a six and then carved him over the slip cordon for a four.

There were a few anxious moments when Sundar fell while attempting a reverse sweep off Lyon and Shardul Thakur too departed while attempting to hit the winning runs off Hazlewood.

But the cool and clam Pant straight drove Hazlewood to complete an astonishing win for India.

Earlier, it was Gill who played a prominent role in setting the tempo. His innings of 91 — also his personal best — was a masterpiece of timing and placement.

2022, home series

T20 I

Australia wins at Mohali

Sep 21, 2022: The Times of India

SYDNEY: Coach Cheryl Reeve admitted Wednesday the fate of "gentle soul" Brittney Griner was weighing heavily on the USA team at the basketball World Cup in Sydney and the jailed star's number 15 jersey would not be worn at the tournament.

Griner, a standout when they won gold at the Tokyo Olympics last year, would normally be with the squad as they attempt to claim a fourth straight title and 11th overall, starting Thursday against Belgium.

But the 31-year-old is instead in a Russian prison, sentenced to nine years in a penal colony after being arrested at a Moscow airport in February for possessing vape cartridges with a small amount of cannabis oil.

Reeve said Griner would be "top of mind" throughout the 10-day tournament, and revealed players had been in touch with her to send messages of support.

"The mindset is just trying to stay strong for her and doing what we can," Reeve said, describing Griner as "a gentle soul, just full of love". She added that players had been able to communicate with their teammate via email, sending "messages of love and support and strength".

"It's on their minds every day. It's heavy, it is really, really heavy especially as we participate in this USA basketball competition," she added.

"She's such a big part of many of our lives, so it's challenging."

No USA team member will don Griner's number 15 jersey in Sydney.

"To keep Brittney top of mind, no one will wear the number 15. That will be the first way to honour her and keep her in our thoughts," said Reeve.

US President Joe Biden met Griner's wife, Cherelle Griner, last week as top officials work to bring the player home, with Moscow saying last month it was ready to discuss a prisoner swap.

A White House statement released afterwards did not include details about the status of talks with Russia, but National Security Council spokesman John Kirby said "discussions are ongoing" to secure Griner's release.

"People are hard at work and I think the biggest thing is that we know it's top of mind for many, many people that are a part of this process and they're working very, very hard to try and get Brittney home," said Reeve.

When she was arrested, the two-time Olympic gold medallist and Women's NBA champion had been in Russia to play for the professional Yekaterinburg team, during her off-season from the Phoenix Mercury.

She pleaded guilty to the charges, but said she did not intend to break the law or use the banned substance in Russia.

Griner had testified that she had permission from a US doctor to use medicinal cannabis to relieve pain from her many injuries, and had never failed a drug test. The use of medical marijuana is not allowed in Russia.

Breanna Stewart, the Most Valuable Player at the last World Cup, said that winning another title would be the best way to honour Griner and keep her in the conversation.

"While we're waiting for her to come home, one of the biggest things we can do is win a gold medal for her while we're here and keep her at the forefront of everything we do," said the Seattle Storm star on the same call.

"It's more than what's just happening in these 10 days, it's continuing the momentum that we have to always make sure she is in the spotlight until she's home. We miss her.”

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