While some might even consider Kohli’s men as outright favourites to clinch the series, historically, India have fared quite poorly Down Under in their Test sojourns. They are yet to win a series in 12 attempts since undertaking their maiden tour in 1947-48.
In 44 Tests played on Australia soil between the two teams, India have lost 28 while managing just five victories.
Here, we take a look back at the five wins India have managed to attain in Australia.
Australia v India – Third Test
Melbourne Cricket Ground, 1977
India won by 222 runs
India’s maiden Test win in Australia came at a time when the hosts were reeling from the absence of the Chappell brothers and Dennis Lillee among others. Several of Australia’s biggest stars had opted to play for Kerry Packer in the World Series, thus leaving the hosts’ side severely depleted.
Still, Australia registered victories in the first two Tests to take a 2-0 lead in the series coming into the Melbourne clash. Half centuries from Mohinder Amarnath and Gundappa Viswanath helped the tourists post 256 in their first innings before leg-spinner Bhagwath Chandrasekhar ran riot with the ball.
The leggie picked up 6-52 as the hosts were bowled out for 213 before Sunil Gavaskar struck his third century in as many matches to help India set Australia a mammoth target of 387.
Chandrasekhar then returned with identical figures of 6-52 in the second innings too to lead India to an overwhelming win.
Australia v India – Fourth Test
Sydney Cricket Ground, 1978
India won by an innings and two runs
India’s second Test win in Australia came immediately as the tourists bounced back from 0-2 down to tie the series 2-2.
India spinners Bishan Singh Bedi and Chandrasekhar made Australia regret batting first on a lively pitch as the hosts were bundled out for a mere 131 in their first innings. Half centuries from Viswanath and Karsan Ghavri then helped the tourists post 396 in reply.
Armed with a massive 265-run first innings lead, India’s spinners once against cashed in with Erapalli Prasanna’s four-wicket haul leading the side’s march to an innings win.
Australia v India – Third Test
Melbourne Cricket Ground, 1981
India won by 59 runs
In a match which will be remembered for Gavaskar’s decision to walk off the pitch in protest, India earned a remarkable victory over Greg Chappell and his men at the MCG.
Trailing 0-1 in the series after their innings defeat at Sydney in the first Test, Gavaskar and his men had it all to do in Melbourne. A 114-run knock from Viswanath helped India post 237 in their first innings but Allan Border’s ton saw the Aussies reply with a mammoth 419.
With their backs against the wall, India openers Gavaskar and Chetan Chauhan added 165 runs for the first wicket before Gavaskar was adjudged to be lbw off the bowling of Lillee. The Indian captain was furious with the umpire’s decision and forced Chauhan to walk off the pitch with him in protest.
Luckily for India, common sense prevailed in the end and the match resumed after a brief delay. The visitors were eventually bowled out for 324, giving Australia a target of 143 for victory.
Inspired by Kapil Dev’s 5-16, India bundled out the hosts for only 83 runs to notch up a famous win.
Australia v India – Second Test
Adelaide Oval, 2003
India won by four wickets
Sourav Ganguly and his men looked down and out in Adelaide after Australia posted a daunting 556 runs in their first innings following a brilliant 242 by Ricky Ponting.
However, a double century from Rahul Dravid (233) and a superb ton from Australia’s old nemesis VVS Laxman (148) helped India get within 33 runs off the hosts’ first innings total.
When India were eventually bowled out for 523 on the fourth day, the match seemed destined to end in a tame draw but pacer Ajit Agarkar turned it on its head with a sensational display.
Agarkar picked up 6-41 as Australia were bowled out for 196 in their second innings. With India needing 230 for victory, first innings double centurion Dravid once again showed his class with his unbeaten half-century guiding the visitors to a four-wicket win on the final day.
Australia v India – Third Test
WACA (Perth), 2008
India won by 72 runs
India’s most recent Test win in Australia came at the iconic old WACA (Western Australia Cricket Association) stadium in Perth during the infamous tour of 2007-08.
The two teams arrived at Perth in the wake of the ‘Monkeygate’ scandal in the Sydney Test which had involved Harbhajan Singh and Andrew Symonds. The hosts had registered a contentious win in Sydney with several umpiring decisions going against India.
As such, the visitors were well and truly fired up for Perth. They posted 330 in their first innings with Dravid scoring a fine 93 before RP Singh and Irfan Pathan combined to bowl out the hosts for 212 in their reply.
India made that 118-run lead count as they set Australia a daunting chase of 413 in the final innings. Despite a fighting 81 from Michael Clarke and a lower-order half-century from Mitchell Johnson, Australia were unable to scale that target as their 16-match winning streak was brought to a grinding halt at Perth.
The two teams are locked at 1-1 in the three-match series with all to play for in the decider at Sheikh Zayed Stadium. Collapsing dramatically before falling to a four-run defeat in the series opener at the same venue, Pakistan bounced back strongly with an innings victory in the Dubai Test.
Sarfraz will now look to avoid the prospect of a second Test series defeat out of three in Pakistan’s ‘home fortress’ of the UAE. Here, we look at the three things the Pakistan skipper and his men need to do to ensure victory in the decider.
GET WILLIAMSON EARLY
As cliche as it might sound, getting the opposition’s best batsmen dismissed cheaply is always handy in tipping the balance of the game. In Kane Williamson, the Kiwis have not just an astute leader, but also a Test batsman of the highest calibre.
The 28-year-old has managed to show all his class and experience on the slow and turning pitches in the UAE. His 63 in the first innings of the opening Test was extremely crucial in setting up the Blackcaps’ narrow win and despite the thrashing received by his team in Dubai, Williamson looked like a cut above the rest in both innings.
He ran out of partners ultimately in the first innings while Yasir Shah ran riot and he was looking extremely good in the second too before falling to the Pakistan leg-spinner. The right-handed batsman possesses the ability and technique to weather any storm and if he gets set in Abu Dhabi, Pakistan could find themselves in trouble.
OPENERS NEED TO STEP UP
While Azhar Ali, Asad Shafiq and Babar Azam have looked good with the bat for Pakistan, their openers Mohammad Hafeez and Imam-ul-Haq have failed to come to the party so far in the UAE.
Returning to the Test set-up after nearly two years, Hafeez grasped his opportunity with both hands in the series against Australia by notching up his 10th ton in the format. However, the veteran opener has gone eerily quiet since then. In his three innings so far against the Kiwis, the 38-year-old has managed to muster only 39 runs.
His opening partner Imam-ul-Haq has not fared any better either with the left-hander collecting just 42 runs so far. Pakistan have failed to put up a single decent opening partnership so far in the series and that in turn has created extra pressure over the middle-order batsmen.
A change in that aspect could make things much easier for Sarfraz’s men in the decider.
SAFELY NEGATE BOULT THREAT
As Shah’s 14-wicket haul in the last Test in Dubai proved, spinners have traditionally ruled the roost when it comes to cricket in the UAE. However, with the series now heading back to Abu Dhabi, expect the pacers and seamers to be in business too.
In the series opener, Trent Boult roared New Zealand back into the match with a four-wicket burst in the first innings. The Kiwi pacer is one of the top proponents of the red-ball in world cricket and has time and time again shown he has the ability to work wonders on any kind of surface.
Blessed with an immaculate seam position and some prodigious movement, Boult is the dangerman for Pakistan’s batsmen on the Abu Dhabi surface. The pitch there has shown in recent times it has something for seamers who can work the batsmen with subtle movements. Pakistan’s very own Mohammad Abbas picked up a five-wicket haul in each innings in his side’s 373-run win over Australia in October.
As such, Boult will sniff blood on the pitch and will thoroughly examine the techniques of the Pakistan batsmen.
The England batsman continues to grow strong at 36 with a stint in the Bangladesh Premier League (BPL) lined up as well apart from his participation in the PSL.
“I had a very good T20 campaign this year with Birmingham Bears and I played franchise cricket with Perth Scorchers last year,” Bell told Sky Sport’s Saj Sadiq.
“Because I am currently not playing international cricket there is the opportunity to go and play in the top leagues against the best players in the world which is something that you want to do to keep challenging yourself.
“Obviously the Pakistan Super League is one of those top competitions and you have some of the best T20 players in the world playing in it. In addition, you have some of the most talented players in the world from Pakistan and we all saw what they can do at the Champions Trophy.”
The Warwickshire batsman revealed that he has spoken to his former England team-mate Kevin Pietersen about the experience of playing in the PSL.
With good numbers to his name this season, our #Sheru @Ian_Bell has been in brilliant form. He is determined to continue his good form and showcase his talent in PSL 4 as well.— Islamabad United (@IsbUnited) November 28, 2018
Can he score a century in PSL 4?#UnitedWeWin #RedHotChampions pic.twitter.com/Y2Z7I2acHI
“I’ve spoken to a few people like Kevin Pietersen and a few other players who have taken part in the PSL and they all spoke highly of it. I’m really excited about it and I’ve seen bits and pieces of the tournament when I’ve had the time,” said Bell.
“The standard always looks particularly good and the grounds are fantastic and the fact that there are going to be games in Pakistan is brilliant for Pakistan cricket. The PSL is a tournament that I really wanted to play in and it’s nice to get the opportunity to do so.”
With eight matches of the next PSL edition set to take place on Pakistan soil, there are question marks over the willingness of overseas stars to make that journey.
Bell, however, has confirmed his total commitment to the cause should the need arise. “Yes, I would. 110 per cent. I will go to Pakistan to play PSL matches there,” he said.
The fourth edition of the PSL will get under way in the UAE on February 14, 2019.