In the first semi-final of the Ultimate Test Series challenge, two epic Border-Gavaskar campaigns are pitted against one another.
Ahead of the ICC World Test Championship Final, we’re looking to crown The Ultimate Test Series – a Test series that would stand out in any era for both its significance to the sport’s rich history and the level of cricket played.
Over the last week you have helped us whittle down a shortlist of 16 to a final four.
In the first semi-final today, two Border-Gavaskar epics are pitted against one another: the rollercoaster 2001 series in India and 2020/21's event laden campaign in Australia.
Get voting across our social channels.
India vs Australia, 2001
2-1 to India across three Tests
Australia arrived in India with captain Steve Waugh determined to conquer what he had labelled the ‘final frontier’. Firmly cemented as the world’s best Test team, Australia were on course to do just that after winning the first Test handsomely, thanks to centuries from Matthew Hayden and Adam Gilchrist.
That was their record-extending 16th straight Test victory and they were on track for a 17th when they enforced the follow-on at Eden Gardens. For the better part of two days, VVS Laxman and Rahul Dravid conjured a miracle, and captains have feared the follow-on ever since. The pair put on 376 runs together, with Laxman scoring a double-century. India would go on to win that Test with stumps closing in quickly on day five, cementing the match’s status as one of the greatest in cricket history.
In the series decider, Hayden stepped up for Australia again, scoring a brilliant 203 in a total of 391. It turned out to be an effort in vain, as India replied with 501 in their first innings, thanks to a century from Sachin Tendulkar and fifties from SS Das, Sadagoppan Ramesh, Laxman and Dravid. The Australians did well to push India all the way from there, with the hosts scraping to victory by two wickets in the end.
Australia vs India, 2020/21
1-2 to India across four Tests
India went into the 2020/21 campaign as the Border-Gavaskar Trophy holders, having won the last time they toured Australia. This time, however, the Australians had back the services of Steve Smith and, belatedly due to injury, David Warner. India on the other hand would be losing star captain Virat Kohli after the first match of the series due to the birth of his first child. As it turned out, Kohli’s departure would be just one of their worries.
Few gave India any chance of taking the series after they were rolled for 36 at Adelaide Oval, losing a Test they had largely been in control of. To make matters worse for the tourists, alongside Kohli they also lost pace spearhead Mohammed Shami for the remainder of the series due to injury.
It was at the MCG the comeback began as they rallied to level the series on the back of a century from Ajinkya Rahane. It came at the cost of another frontline quick, with Umesh Yadav breaking down. The injury toll got worse at the SCG, where they pulled off a remarkable draw, while losing Jasprit Bumrah, Hanuma Vihari, R Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja to further injuries.
At the Gabba, deep into their reserves, they did the unthinkable, winning the match and the series off the back of an incredible 89 not out from Rishabh Pant.
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