Records Make Aus Favourites, Can India Stop the Gabba Juggernaut?

Australia haven’t lost a Test at the Gabba since 1988 when West Indies led by Sir Viv Richards won by 9 wickets.

3 min read
Australian captain Tim Paine, left, congratulates Indian captain Ajinkya Rahane after winning the second test at the Melbourne Cricket Ground.

Traditionally the starting point of the Australian summer, the Gabba in Brisbane has been nothing less than a fortress for the hosts in Tests. Australia have not lost a Test match at the Gabba since 1988 when the West Indies led by Sir Viv Richards won by 9 wickets.

Justin Langer and Tim Paine definitely won’t want to be the leaders under whom Australia’s unbeaten streak of 32 years ends and make no mistake, the bowling will be hostile, the comments sharper and the intensity at it’s peak. The series is locked at 1-1 and apart from the Border-Gavaskar Trophy, a place in the final of the World Test Championship is at stake.

India at the Gabba

Ajinkya Rahane’s India have quite the task on hand, especially given that this is India’s least favourite venue in Australia. India’s only draw in 6 games at the Gabba came in 2003, when captain then and now BCCI President Sourav Ganguly smashed a splendid 144. That time though bad weather and light had the final say.

Since the turn of the century India have played at the Gabba only twice, the second being in 2014, when the hosts won by 4 wickets. This however wasn’t the most comfortable win for the hosts as a chase of 128 turned into quite a contest with Ishant Sharma and Umesh Yadav picking 5 quick wickets before Mitchell Marsh and Mitchell Johnson took them over the line. Rahane scored 81 and Murali Vijay smashed 144.

The Gabba in Brisbane
The Gabba in Brisbane
(Image: IANS)

On a surface that is once again expected to aid the faster bowlers more than the spinners, the Australians start as favourites, especially given the unfortunate injuries that have hit the visitors hard. The weather too is likely to play a part in this Test.

Nonetheless, in both the Tests after the turn of the century, India have registered first innings totals in excess of 400 (409 in 2003 and 408 in 2014) and will need to bat long hours yet again.

India almost won a Test in Brisbane in 1977 but fell short by only 16 runs, Australia’s smallest win margin at the Gabba in terms of runs. Interestingly, out of the four smallest wins (2 in terms of runs and 2 in terms of wickets) for Australia in Brisbane, three are against India (1977, 1968 and 2014). India lost by 10 wickets in 1991 and by an innings and 226 runs in 1947, independent India’s first Test.       

Australia at The Gabba

Australia have played a total of 62 Tests and won 40 of them, losing only 8. There have been 13 draws and 1 tie too. Since 1990, they’ve played 30 times at the Gabba and won 24 Tests, drawing 6. Only, England (4), New Zealand (3) and West Indies (1) have won at the Gabba since the first Test was played in 1931.

Since 2000, the hosts have played at the Gabba 20 times and won 6 of those Tests by an innings and more, 3 with a margin of win above 300 runs, 2 with a margin between 200 and 300 and 2 with a margin between 30 and 200.

They have also won a game by 10 wickets and another by 9 wickets, while their smallest win margin is in 2014 against India (by 4 wickets). There have been only 4 draws in this period.

With Ravi Shastri and Rahane at the helm since the Adelaide debacle in the absence of Virat Kohli, India was commanding in Melbourne and showed great courage and fight in Sydney.

Australia have been dominant for decades at the Gabba, even before 1988, when an Allan Border captained side failed to stop the formidable West Indies, however India’s recent outings have seen them fight, and that’s not just in Brisbane.

The history, the traditional dominance and unfriendly nature of the pitch coupled with the list of injuries do not paint a pretty picture for India, but they’ve responded almost every time they’ve been up against it.

Can Rahane and team upset the applecart?

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