Australia’s two-Test tour to India in 2010 was the shortest series since the one-off Test in 1996, which was the inaugural Border-Gavaskar clash between the two sides. Like in 2008, Australia arrived in the sub-continent with a weak bowling attack. This time though their batting also wore a depleted look. In spite of all the perceptible weaknesses, Australia fought exceedingly hard in both the Tests, in sync with what is expected of them. India however had the better arsenal in all departments, and got home to a 2-0 win in the end.
1st Test at Mohali: Another VVS miracle
Chasing 216 to win, India were in all sorts of strife at 124 for 8. Although VVS Laxman was still at the crease, this seemed a bridge too far for even the special man of Indian cricket. He had only Ishant Sharma and Pragyan Ojha for company, neither of whom has great batting credentials. That said, if at all anyone could pull off the miracle for India, it was Laxman. And he managed to do the near impossible yet again. Batting with a runner due to a sore back, Laxman pierced the gap with precision en route to his ‘pain’staking unbeaten 73 off 79 balls.
The win wouldn’t have been possible without the effort of Sharma, who hung around diligently for his 92-ball 31. The Sharma and Laxman alliance took India to within 11 runs of an improbable win, and Ojha hung around long enough to ensure India clinched a memorable win. The other memorable performances in the match included 126 by Shane Watson and 92 by Tim Paine in Australia’s first innings. They made 428 as Zaheer Khan picked up five wickets. India responded with 405 courtesy half-centuries from four of their top six. Australia were then cleaned up for 192 in their second innings; Khan and Sharma grabbing three scalps each.
2nd Test at Bangalore: Pujara’s memorable debut
This matched turned out to be rather similar to the first Test. The only difference was that chasing a total just over 200, India this time got home safely. Cheteshwar Pujara, playing in his debut Test, saw India home with a steely 72. The Saurashtra batsman, who was in the squad only because Laxman was unavailable with a sore back, was promoted to number three in his very first match. India had lost Sehwag early, and needed to build a steady partnership. Pujara did the same, first in the company of Murali Vijay, and the Tendulkar. By the time Pujara was dismissed, India were in cruise control, and Tendulkar-Dravid guided them home.
As mentioned earlier, there was a striking similarity between the first and second Test. Australia batted first and made 478, Marcus North contributing 128. India replied with 496, Tendulkar making 214 and Vijay 139. For the second time in the series, Australia collapsed in the second innings. They were bowled out for 223, following which Pujara experienced his moment of glory.
--By A Cricket Analyst