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Throwback: So-close yet so-far for India at The Gabba

The Gabba in Brisbane is one of the most favorite grounds of the Australian cricket team. In the iconic ground, which is formally known as Woolloongabba, the Australians have a success of 64.51% and they have not lost a Test match in this venue since 1988.

Interestingly, Indians played their first over Test match on the Australian soil at the Gabba during their maiden tour Down Under in 1947-48. However, the 6 matches played by the Indian team in this ground do not have many happy memories for the players and the fans as they have lost five of those Test matches with a solitary draw in 2003.

How it began
The first Test match in this ground saw a massive loss for India as the batsmen failed to adjust to the pace and bounce of the pitch and after a masterful 185 from Australian captain Don Bradman the entire Indian team was folded for just 58 and 98 runs in their two innings. Eventually they lost the match by an innings and 226 runs. This still remains Australia’s biggest margin of win against India.

Close defeats
India next two Test matches at Brisbane came in 1968 and 1977 and both saw close losses for the Indian team by the slim margins of just 39 runs and 16 runs respectively.

In 1968, India went to Brisbane with already 0-2 down in the series. Australia maintained the stronghold as they scored 379 runs in the first innings, thanks to Doug Walters’ 93 and took an exact 100-run lead after bowling out India for just 279. Captain Mansur Ali Khan Pataudi and ML Jaisimha top-scored for Indians with 74. In the second innings, India bowled slightly better and bowled out Australia for 294 with Erapalli Prasanna picking up 6/104. A target of 395 was not easy for Indians but Jaisimha played his second great innings in the match and scored a century. At one stage, he and Chandu Borde built a partnership of 119 runs for the sixth wicket and took India to 310. But once Borde was dismissed no other bowler could provide the support to Jaisimha and India ended 39 runs short.

In 1977, India had a great chance to record a victory as Australia played a depleted team. Their key players were absent being part of Kerry Packer’s World Series of Cricket. The inexperienced Australians were on the backfoot as they were dismissed for just 166 in the first innings. But Indian batsmen failed to take the initiative and bowled out for just 153. In the second innings, Australian captain Bob Simpson led them to 327 setting up a target of 341 for the Indians. Sunil Gavaskar scored a century and also got support from Syed Kirmani, Mohinder Amarnath, and Gundappa Viswanath but India still failed to get a win and lost by 16 runs.

The 1991/92 tour also started at Brisbane, but India lost the Test by 10 wickets without much fight.

Only draw
2003 Brisbane Test saw a memorable century from Indian captain Sourav Ganguly. On day one Australians looked to dominate thanks to Justin Langer ton but Indians made a strong come back and credit goes to Zaheer Khan for a five-wicket haul. India then took a lead based on Ganguly’s brilliant 144 and VVS Laxman’s 75. The innings was one of the best one from former Indian captain in the longest format of the game. It went to the folklore of Indian cricket as the captain’s knock did motivate the entire team to deliver memorable performances throughout the series. In the rain affected match, Australia set up a target of 199 runs for India in the last hour of day five as the Indians played out for a respectable draw. The Brisbane Test in 2003 created the premises for the historic win in the Adelaide.


The last meet
The 2014 Test match in the venue saw centuries from Steve Smith and Murali Vijay but Australians were in the dominating position after scoring 505 runs in their first innings. Indians crumbled in the second innings and Australia chased the target of 130 runs easily. There was some late drama but ultimately it was a 4-wicket win for Australia.

A Masters in Mass Communication is following her passion for cricket through writing. Primarily a PR person who loves to write absolutely anything and everything about cricket.


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