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Greatest Test Comebacks in Indian Cricket History

The annals of Indian cricket is rich with some of the greatest Test matches played in the history of the sport but nothing seems to compare to situations when a team overcomes adversity and strings a comeback in a Test series.

In this piece, we’d look at five such series in the recent history of Indian cricket where team India went down in the series early on but went back to the drawing board, rectified the errors from the first Test and came back to win the series.

 

AUSTRALIA IN INDIA (2001)

India was Steve Waugh’s final frontier to capture as he led his Australian side to Indian shores in the summer of 2001. Waugh’s team will go down in history as one of the best ones to ever grace this wonderful sport. Before this series, they rewrote the longest winning streak in Test cricket with 15 successive wins and were hoping to make it 18 by the end of the series.

The first Test at Mumbai went exactly as planned as the Aussies trounced India by 10 wickets. They went to Kolkata brimming with confidence and it showed with the way the first innings panned out for both teams. What followed was nothing short of a miracle as VVS Laxman, Rahul Dravid and Harbhajan Singh scripted a sensational Indian victory and that was the real emergence of the new India. The third and all-important Test at Chennai went down to the wire. Sachin Tendulkar’s century in the first innings and Harbhajan Singh’s 15 wickets in the match ensured that India pulled off one of the greatest ever comebacks in Indian cricket history.

 

INDIA IN SRI LANKA (2015)

India started the 2015 tour of Sri Lanka as overwhelming favourites. It was bound to be the great Kumar Sangakkara’s last series in Test cricket and that was the added motivation for the Lankan Lions to bid adieu to one of their best ever players in style. Virat Kohli’s team India had all the plans of spoiling the party and they made their intentions clear from the first innings itself. India were dominant throughout the game but one bad session at Galle meant that they found themselves 1-0 down in the series.

The next two Tests at Colombo went exactly as planned. India proved too strong for a Sri Lankan team that was in the rebuilding phase. They clinched the series 1-2 and showed why they were regarded as one of the best Test teams in the world.

 

AUSTRALIA IN INDIA (2017)

In recent years, Australia’s 2017 tour of India has been the closest series played on Indian soil. This was the closest an away team has come to beating India in their home conditions since the England series in 2012 and credit needs to be given to Steve Smith and his boys from 2017.

The first Test in Pune was a surprising Australian win as the Kangaroos were better than the hosts in all three departments of the game. Very rarely does India come under the scanner at home and the pressure was constantly building throughout the series. The second Test at Bengaluru was an important one and India came back fighting to level the series.

Australia managed to pull off an unlikely draw in the third Test at Ranchi and that meant that the series was well and truly alive going into the fourth and final Test at the aesthetic Dharamshala stadium. To make things tricky, India were without their captain Virat Kohli who was ruled out of the match due to a shoulder injury. It meant that Ajinkya Rahane had to lead his troops to victory to ensure that India won the series. Rahane did exactly that as he made some inspiring selection calls by handing Kuldeep Yadav his Test debut and the chinaman spinner outfoxed the Aussie batters. India went on to win the match by 8 wickets and clinched the series 2-1.

 

INDIA IN AUSTRALIA (2020)

A series that will go down in the history books as one of the best spectacles in the world of cricket. A depleted Indian side against all the odds went on to win a series down under to retain the Border-Gavaskar trophy.

The series started on the wrong foot for the Indians as in the pink-ball Test at Adelaide they crumbled under pressure to their lowest ever total in Test cricket; 36. To add more misery, it was announced before the series that their star player and captain Virat Kohli would be heading home after the first Test on the occasion of the birth of his first child. What followed in the next month or so was nothing short of a blockbuster Bollywood movie. New stars emerged out of nowhere and the Australian team had no answers to this exuberant and vibrant young Indian team. The senior players played their parts as well and it looked like a well-oiled machine throughout the next three Tests. Each ball bowled in this series was an event and kept the viewers on the edge of the seats throughout.

India showed their class in the Boxing Day Test at Melbourne and levelled the series 1-1 with an eight-wicket victory. What followed in Sydney was a show of grit, determination and passion as the Indian team held the hosts to a well-earned draw to take the series to the final Test at the Gabba. The final Test went down to the wire as Rishabh Pant guided India to its most famous Test win in overseas conditions on the final day and India went onto retain the trophy 1-2.

 

ENGLAND IN INDIA (2021)

After the major high of the Australian tour, India were brought to the ground by England in the first Test at Chennai as the visitors seemed better prepared than the hosts for the series. They started the four-match Test series with a massive 227 runs win. The Indians were flat in the first Test but soon made amends in the next three.

The pitches prepared in Chennai and Ahmedabad made life extremely difficult for England as they had no answers to the spin duo of R Ashwin and Axar Patel. The Indian juggernaut proved far too strong for the visitors and the Indians stormed past England 3-1.