FCN takes you back in time as we delve deep into the archives to find the top 10 best performers in this fierce rivalry known as the Border-Gavaskar Trophy. There have been plenty of memorable moments as well as the not-so-memorable along the way, one thing that’s for sure is that both Australia and India are two competitive beasts each & every time they meet. To this day, the 2003-04 series in Australia remains as one of the most epic encounters ever contested between these two nations.
1 – Sachin Tendulkar (India)
3630 runs, 11 hundreds and an average of 55 – It’s fair to say that Sachin Tendulkar didn’t mind playing the Aussies in test cricket. Most commonly known as the ‘Little Master’, this right-handed master of the willow was & still is a cricketing icon when he played with thousands and thousands of Indian men, women and children becoming obsessed with the man known as Sachin Tendulkar. In that memorable series of 03-04, Tendulkar attained his highest score against the Australians in Sydney with an unbeaten 241. That Sydney test produced a total of 1747 runs and eventually ended in a draw, Tendulkar was awarded man of the match for his unbeaten 241 & 60. When you think of Australia versus India, Sachin Tendulkar immediately comes to mind.
39 matches | 3630 runs | 241* (highest score) | 55.00 average | 11 hundreds
2 – Ricky Ponting (Australia)
Not far behind the great Sachin Tendulkar, the former Australian captain led his country fearlessly both on the field and with the bat. It was that true Australian grit that gave Ricky Ponting a leg-up on the opposition, not too dissimilar to Steve Waugh who was a prime example of just that. Ponting had one of the most destructive pull shots in International cricket, so short balls were a big no-no! The best of Ricky Ponting came out against the likes of England and India, but it was the Indian series which generally caught the attention of the rest of the world given how competitive the cricket was. In his 29 matches against India, the Aussie No. 3 scored 8 hundreds and 12 fifties pushing an average of 54. With a must-win mentality and an outstanding presence with the bat, Punter will be remembered as one of the greats of this rivalry.
29 matches | 2555 runs | 257 (highest score) | 54.36 average | 8 hundreds
3 – Anil Kumble (India)
Comprehensively defeating the world’s best spinner of all time when it came to the Border-Gavaskar Trophy, Anil Kumble has Shane Warne covered in the head-to-head battles. Kumble wasn’t your traditional leg-spinner, opting to spear the ball into the pitch rather than flighting it like Warne did. What made Kumble a game breaking spinner is pretty self-explanatory, when the pitch started to deteriorate and break up he’d hit the cracks with those speared-in deliveries which would cause extreme-havoc for the Aussie batsmen (particularly on Indian wickets). A watchful eye was required to see off the Indian leggy, his balls fizzed quickly through the air and generally won India a big percentage of matches. Kumble has taken the most wickets in Australia-India tests with 111.
20 matches | 111 wickets | 8/141 (BBI) | 30.32 average | 10 five-wicket hauls
4 – Sunil Gavaskar (India)
Arguably one of the greatest opening batsmen to have ever played the game, Sunil Gavaskar was the biggest thing going around before Sachin Tendulkar surpassed his stardom. Technique and concentration was Gavaskar’s game, but he had plenty of shots to back it up as well which made him the complete batsmen in just about anyone’s book. Bombarded by the excessive speeds of Jeff Thomson and Dennis Lillee in the 70’s & early 80’s, followed by the deadly-accurate duo of Craig McDermott and Merv Hughes, Gavaskar’s statistics against the Aussies become all that more impressive. ‘Sunny’ sits equal-second with Ricky Ponting for the most centuries in Australia-India tests with 8 from just 20 matches, a miraculous effort if you think back to the competition he was up against.
20 matches | 1550 runs | 172 (highest score) | 51.67 average | 8 hundreds
5 – Harbhajan Singh (India)
Love him or hate him, this man loved playing Australia and has the statistics to back it up. Harbhajan Singh might not be everyone’s cup of tea, especially after the 2007-08 series against Australia where things got out of hand between himself and Andrew Symonds. An extremely passionate individual with talent to burn with the ball, Harbhajan seemed to save his best for the Aussies. Heralded as India’s most successful off-spinner ever, the 38-year-old sits second to only Anil Kumble for most wickets taken in Australia-India tests with 95 from 18 appearances. Harbhajan is the only bowler to have ever taken a hat-trick in Australia-India tests back in 2000-01 in Kolkata. The Indian off-spinner was on fire in that series, he picked up 32 wickets including two 10-wicket hauls, the most wickets in a series ever between these two sides.
18 matches | 95 wickets | 8/84 (BBI) | 29.96 average | 7 five-wicket hauls
6 – Matthew Hayden (Australia)
He may not have played as many games as the rest of the players featured in the top 10, but Matthew Hayden’s numbers against India tell the story. A typical Australian opening batsman who used brute-force to bully opposition bowlers, Hayden was just as mentally tough as he was physically. The Queenslander’s first encounter with India saw him score 119 in Mumbai, followed by a string of fifties before scoring his maiden-double century in test cricket at Chennai. That 2001 tour of India signified his dominance against Ganguly’s team. The hard-hitting opener didn’t get anywhere near the heights of that 2001 series reached until 2007-08 on home turf where Hayden scored three centuries in Melbourne, Sydney and Adelaide. His career ended on a sour-note against South Africa soon after, but his influence against India where he averaged 59 from 18 matches was nothing short of brilliant.
18 matches | 1888 runs | 203 (highest score) | 59.00 average | 6 hundreds
7 – VVS Laxman (India)
What. A. Player. A man with sublime stroke play and a touch from the gods when he was at his very best out in the middle, VVS Laxman could take a game away from you just like that. When the classy right-hander got set, the fielding team knew they were in for a long day. Brilliant on both the on & off-side, Laxman’s ability to pick teams apart through the field was on full display in 2003-04 where he took apart the thought-to-be-indestructible Australians on foreign soil. The hosts were bewildered as Tendulkar, Dravid and Laxman took apart their bowling attack which was enough to end the series level 1-1 with draws in Brisbane and Sydney. VVS (‘Very Very Special’) Laxman scored 148 in Adelaide and 178 in Sydney as Australian fans were treated to a batting master class in the form of India’s No. 6 batsman. VVS’s highest score of 281 against the Aussies back in 2000-01 sits second on the highest individual scores in Australia-India tests.
29 matches | 2434 runs | 281 (highest score) | 49.67 average | 6 hundreds
8 – Michael Clarke (Australia)
An enormously-talented right-handed batsman who had the ability to control the tempo of an innings, Michael Clarke was one of the most beautiful players to watch when he found form in Australia’s middle order. Not afraid to take on the bowlers both through & over the field, Pup made the game of cricket interesting for the average viewer with his ability to punch the ball to the boundary with elegance, as well as the odd release shot over the fence. Clarke’s knock at the SCG in 2011-12 against India signified a man in the form of his life. The captain’s unbeaten 329 left little to the imagination as he dispatched 39 boundaries over the course of three days before eventually declaring. Back injuries may have limited him as a player later in his career, unfortunately for India it wasn’t soon enough…
22 matches | 2049 runs | 329* (highest score) | 53.92 average | 7 hundreds
9 – Allan Border (Australia)
From someone who reluctantly accepted the captaincy, to one of the best leaders of his generation – Allan Border was exactly what the Australian cricket team needed at the time. Border enjoyed a lengthy career lasting 156 tests and 273 ODI’s, but it was how he approached the game that separated him from the rest. Border put a high price on his wicket, he was hell-bent on staying at the crease each & every time we walked to the middle. The Australia-India rivalry was a big one at the time, Border and Gavaskar headlined the series as they looked to better each other with the bat and in the field. Both players finished their careers averaging above 50 against each other, however Gavaskar had the bragging rights with four more centuries than the Australian skipper. Border’s grit with the bat and fiery personality elevated Australian cricket off the ground in that era.
20 matches | 1567 runs | 163 (highest score) | 52.23 average | 4 hundreds
10 – Kapil Dev (India)
India’s best fast bowler to have ever played the game and arguably their best all-rounder as well, Kapil Dev rounds off the top 10 best performers in Australia-India tests. Voted India’s cricketer of the century back in 2002, Dev was rewarded for his service as a tireless-working all-rounder that didn’t get the praise he deserved at the time given the likes of Bothem, Hadlee and Imran Khan were going around. A man who could swing the ball relatively accurately, Dev picked up 79 wickets in 20 tests against the Aussies proving to be a very consistent performer. It wasn’t often that the Indian speedster walked away from an India-Australia series without a couple of big bags of wickets, 1991-92 was a good example of that. It’s also worth mentioning that Dev also scored a century against the Australians, 119 at Chennai in 1986.
20 matches |687 runs | 79 wickets | 8/106 (BBI) | 25.35 average | 7 five-wicket hauls