India's best performances against Australia Part II

Innings that matter: Shastri's 206, Gavaskar's 113 and the others.

Yesterday, we had put up India's 5 highest impact batting performances in a match context against Australia. Here, we put up the highest impact 10 innings performances. Impact Index calculates the impact of an innings within the context of its match, so how a player's own team-mates perform and how the opposition players fare in the same match all determine a player's impact on the match. Given that, losing causes usually will not figure easily on any Impact list for obvious reasons. When they do (as in 7, 9 and 10 here), invariably the match goes close. Therefore, classic innings like Tiger Pataudi's 75 in Melbourne (1966) or Vijay Hazare's 148 in Adelaide (1948) don't make it as high on the Impact list as some other performances do.

Those that tend to make it here are feats against the odds (the tough fourth innings chase, for example) - and some high-profile classic performances (like Tendulkar's 155 in Chennai 1998 or Sehwag's 155 in Chennai 2004, or most prominently, Dravid's 233 in Adelaide 2003, or indeed Tendulkar's 241 in Sydney 2004) tend to miss this list as they share impact with other players IN THE CONTEXT OF THE MATCH, as the system also determines from the match figures how many runs were there in that particular pitch.

So, it's useful to remember that these are not necessarily the most aesthetic innings, or the most technically perfect innings or the most memorable ones in terms of volume of runs. They are those performances that affected the fortunes of a team, or almost did. Some forgotten, some totally not. And they're only in a match, not series, context here.

NOTE: In a career context, all Match IMPACT numbers over 5 are brought down to 5 - however the value they carry due to their series impact are carried forward, and tallied when career IMPACT values are calculated.

1. VVS Laxman  281, Kolkata 2001 - Innings IMPACT 9.82
(Brief Scores: Aus 445 & 212, Ind 171 & 657/7 - India won by 171 runs)
With a plotline reminiscent of a later-day tacky Dev Anand film but with the narrative elegance of a Satyajit Ray classic, VVS Laxman produced India's finest Test innings under the most extreme conditions of following-on, facing an imminent series-loss.

2. RJ Shastri 206, Sydney 1992 - Innings IMPACT 8.38
(Brief Scores: Aus 313 & 173/8, Ind 483 - Match drawn)
Opened the innings (which was tottering at 7 for 1 at one stage) and was 5th out at 397, with India already 84 runs ahead of Australia - it set the tone for the match that was left to the bowlers to finish, which they unfortunately could not (despite Shastri himself leading the way with 4 wickets in the second innings).

3. R Dravid 180, Kolkata 2001 - Innings IMPACT 7.32
(Brief Scores: Aus 445 & 212, Ind 171 & 657/7 - India won by 171 runs)  
Often devalued as a support-performance, Dravid is never mentioned in the same vein as Laxman in that epic 376-run partnership. The truth is that it was as much of a support-act as the Sundance Kid's was to Butch Cassidy, or Stan Laurel's to Oliver Hardy, or Todd Woodbridge's to Mark Woodforde. Slightly behind Laxman's on Batting IMPACT purely because he batted for 3 hours, and about 100 runs, less.

4. AL Wadekar 91 not out, Delhi 1969 - Innings IMPACT 7.28
(Brief Scores: Aus 296 & 107, Ind 223 & 181/3 - India won by 7 wickets)
After the heroics of Bedi and Prasanna, India were set 181 to win. Wadekar came in at 18 for 2 and guided the rarely successful fourth innings chase with a four-hour effort, with Vishwanath at the other end contributing 44.

5. VVS Laxman 73 not out, Mohali 2010 - Innings IMPACT 7.16
(Brief Scores: Aus 428 & 192, Ind 405 & 216/9 - India won by 1 wicket)
A modern-day classic. Chasing 216 in the fourth innings, Laxman walks out at 76 for 5, which gradually transforms to 124 for 8. With a steely Ishant Sharma (31), Laxman navigates his side through foggy doubts and lost hope.

6. SR Tendulkar 148 not out, Sydney 1992 - Innings IMPACT 5.32
(Brief Scores: Aus 313 & 173/8, Ind 483 - Match drawn)
The perfect foil to Shastri's 206 (no.2 on this list), Tendulkar's 2nd Test century remains the highest impact Test innings he has played against Australia (beating even the classic 153 in Chennai 6 years later, and many other top-of-the-mind performances - a function of the match situations).

7. SM Gavaskar 113, Brisbane 1977 - Innings IMPACT 5.08
(Brief Scores: Aus 166 & 327, Ind 153 & 324 - Australia won by 16 runs)
Not one of Gavaskar's high profile innings. It wasn't the first-choice Australian team, hit as they were by a storm called Kerry Packer, but it still had Jeff Thompson and Wayne Clark opening the bowling and a superannuated (but still highly effective) Bob Simpson as captain. India were set 341 to win and, despite the early loss of Vengsarkar, Gavaskar held the innings together as only he could at that time - for over 5 hours - he was 6th out at 243. It inspired his team enough; Kirmani and of all people, batsman Bedi, took it close. It set up a series that would eventually be a closely-fought, intense affair.

8. M Azharuddin 163 not out, Kolkata 1998 - Innings IMPACT 4.88
(Brief Scores: Aus 233 & 181, Ind 633 - India won by an innings and 219 runs)
Mathematical impact will sometimes throw up performances like this where the sheer proportion of runs in a one-sided match will carry a huge weight. Azharuddin came into bat at 347 for 3 - with India already far ahead. He then proceeded to mount up a score that should have ensured India needed to bat just once that decade, let alone that match. The thoroughly demoralised Aussies collapsed in a heap - barely making as much as Azharuddin in the second innings.

9. ML Jaisimha 101, Brisbane 1968 - Innings IMPACT 4.74
(Brief Scores: Aus 379 & 294, Ind 279 & 355 - Australia won by 39 runs)
A classic fourth innings chase against Bill Lawry's team that is all but forgotten today. After enjoying a 100-runs lead in the first innings, Australia left India 394 to win and would have been anticipating a short final day with India at 177 for 4 overnight, with Jaisimha having just replaced the captain (Tiger Pataudi). But, following a superb 74 in the first innings, Jaisimha produced a classic 5-hour Test effort in this second innings - holding it together (with Chandu Borde as his main partner). At 310 for 5, just when glory began to wink, Borde got out, and as a procession followed at the other end, Jaisimha took the score within 40 runs of what would perhaps have been India's most memorable Test win ever at that time, till he was last out.

10. M Azharuddin 106, Adelaide 1992 - Innings IMPACT 4.64
(Brief Scores: Aus 145 & 451, Ind 225 & 333 - Australia won by 38 runs)
The fourth Test in a 5-Test series, with India 0-2 down. India fought well in the first half, got a lead, but lost the plot thereafter, and were set 372 to win. A thought not close to any sane human's mind when Azharuddin walked out to bat at 102 for 4. But first with Manjrekar (45), and then prominently, Prabhakar (64), he took the score to within 90 runs of a famous win, till he got out. The rest managed to drag it for another 50 runs, which at least made it a so-near-yet-so-far, which was better than a hammered-black-and-blue-ho-hum.

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