India vs Australia Test series, 1999-2000: VVS Laxman's iconic Sydney ton amid whitewash humiliation

First Published 3, Dec 2018, 6:04 PM IST
India Australia 1999 2000 VVS Laxman Sachin Tendulkar Sydney Melbourne
Highlights

'The toughest series without any doubt was in 1999 when we went to Australia and they had a great side. In a team of 11, you had literally seven to eight match winners and the rest were also very good. That was a team which dominated world cricket for a number of years. They had their own style of playing, very aggressive,' Sachin Tendulkar had said on India's tour to Australia in 1999-2000

From being pushovers, India have come a long way to be the real challengers to Australia in their own conditions in Test cricket. India-Australia rivalry has grown over the years with fans eagerly waiting to see the contests in the longest format. As Virat Kohli and his men chase history Down Under, MyNation brings to you the previous five tours by India to Australia and their highlights. Here is what panned out in 1999-2000 under SachinTendulkar's captaincy. To read about the other India vs Australia series Down Under, click here

As India get ready for the Australian challenge in Adelaide from December 6, the captain Virat Kohli will be the cynosure of all eyes. He is the best batsman in the world at the moment, by a distance. He has mastered the art of batting in all conditions. Nineteen years ago, it was the same with Sachin Tendulkar, when India arrived Down Under for a three-Test series and limited-overs matches.

Also read: India-Australia series schedule, squads, live TV, streaming information

In 1999, just like how Kohli is now, Tendulkar too was the skipper of the side and carried the burden of a nation. For most part of the 90s, India was one-man team with Tendulkar, time and again, producing masterclass knocks when the rest came a cropper.

Sachin’s LBW controversy in Adelaide

The start of the series back then was also in Adelaide. Unlike the current outfit, India were never expected to make noise Down Under and they did not. However, Tendulkar’s reputation remained intact as a batsman as he won the Man-of-the-series but the team was walloped 3-0 by Steve Waugh’s men.

The opening exchange at the Adelaide Oval went in favour of the hosts by 285 runs. Waugh led from the front with 150 and the talented Ricky Ponting supported his skipper with 125.

Indian batsmen failed to stand up to Glenn McGrath, Shane Warne and Damien Fleming. The visitors were rolled over for 285 and 110.

Tendulkar hit a half century in the first innings while in the second he was out for a five-ball duck, which led to a major controversy. The Indian skipper was adjudged LBW to McGrath by home umpire Daryl Harper as the batsman ducked expecting a bouncer and the ball did not rise much and it hit his shoulder.

There was anger in India as fans slammed the umpire while he stood by his decision. Even to this day, former cricketers and supporters remember that dismissal. Still, people are not convinced that it was out. Back then, there was no Decision Review System (DRS).

In an interview with espncricinfo, Harper did speak about that incident and said he would like the world to forget it but again reiterated that he was right.

“One that I would like the world to forget is the Sachin (Tendulkar) one, when he ducked a (Glenn) McGrath bouncer, in Adelaide in 1999. I've got the video clip on my laptop still, and you can see it is still out! What I didn't like was, when I left the ground, a lot of friends were expressing their disappointment,” Harper said when asked which dismissal he would like to forget.

Tendulkar stands tall among ruins at MCG

After the LBW row in Adelaide, the teams moved to Melbourne for the Boxing Day Test and same story unfolded for India. Tendulkar stood out with a Man-of-the-match performance, hitting 116 and 52 but the rest of the batting crumbled. Barring Tendulkar, none of the Indian batsmen managed to score a half century at Melbourne Cricket Ground (MCG). The end result was a 180-run success for the home team and with it the series in the bag.

The MCG match also saw the debut of fast bowler Brett Lee for Australia. He went on to become one of the best in the world, tormenting batsmen around the world.

Laxman announces his arrival with classy 167 at SCG

In the New Year’s Test of 2000, the final contest was at Sydney Cricket Ground (SCG). Here too, India were no match to the mighty Australians. They were annihilated by an innings and 141 runs and a 3-0 whitewash followed. But there was a bright spot for Indian cricket. VVS Laxman announced his arrival in international cricket with a brilliant 167 as an opener in the second innings. After Laxman’s score the next best for India in the match, was 45 by Tendulkar, in the first innings.

Recently, Laxman, after launching his autobiography “281 and Beyond”, the batsman said that knock in Sydney gave him huge confidence.

“281 (in Kolkata) is definitely a very memorable knock and a match for me, that Kolkata Test match and the series itself. But, 167 (in the year 2000) gave me the confidence that I can perform at the highest level. Because the situation we were in, and the conditions, it was quite challenging condition and also one of the best bowling line-ups in world cricket,” Laxman said.

“To go out and get my first Test 100. That was very important for me to realise that I had the potential to perform even at the highest level. So, I think that 100 gave me the confidence that I can take on the best in various conditions and various situations. That turned around my career if I may say,” he added.

That was the start of a love affair for Laxman against the Australians. After that Sydney innings, the selectors made him stay back in Australia for the limited-overs tournament that followed. But, he could not replicate the success as he managed only 24 runs in six innings.

Sachin’s ‘toughest’ series in 24-year career

The Indian team had the likes of Tendulkar, Laxman, Rahul Dravid, Sourav Ganguly, Anil Kumble, Javagal Srinath but never were able to run the hosts close. It was a disastrous tour for the visitors.

A few years back, Tendulkar did admit that the 1999-2000 tour to Australia was the “toughest” of his 24-year international career.

“The toughest series without any doubt was in 1999 when we went to Australia and they had a great side. In a team of 11, you had literally seven to eight match winners and the rest were also very good. That was a team which dominated world cricket for a number of years. They had their own style of playing, very aggressive,” Tendulkar had said.

The tour exposed the technical flaws of young Indian batsmen. Openers Devang Gandhi and Sadagoppan Ramesh, wicketkeeper-batsman MS Prasad, who is now the selection committee chief, Hrishikesh Kanitkar and Vijay Bharadwaj had a tough and forgettable trip.

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