Now we bring to you the third part of the series, where we focus on Australia’s tours of India between 2000-01 and 2012-13. This is the era where the India-Australia rivalry was taken to a completely different pedestal, thanks to great on-field tussles and a lot of chatter off it.
2000-01: INDIA BEAT AUSTRALIA 2-1 - HARBHAJAN, LAXMAN ENSURE WAUGH'S MEN DON'T CONQUER FINAL FRONTIER
Under the able leadership of Steve Waugh, with two of the world's best bowlers in their arsenal, Glenn McGrath and Shane Warne, Australia had turned into an unbeatable side. The Aussie juggernaut arrived in India on a 15-match wining streak, already a world record.
The first Test in Mumbai went exactly as many had expected. The visitors won the toss and chose to field and the pace trio of Glenn McGrath, Jason Gillespie and Damien Fleming wrecked the Indian top order. Sachin Tendulkar (76) waged a lone battle but was eventually sent back by McGrath (3/19). Shane Warne picked up four wickets to clean up the lower order as India collapsed to 176 all out.
In Kumble's absence young off-spinner Harbhajan Singh gave India crucial breakthroughs. But burly opener Matthew Hayden, making his international comeback, was merciless as he swept the Indian spinners to the boundary. Adam Gilchrist was at his attacking best and along with Hayden punctured India's hopes of restricting Australia's lead. Both Hayden (119) and Gilchrist (122) scored centuries as Australia amassed 349. Tendulkar (69) played a lone hand again as India were bowled out for 219 in the second innings, Warne and Gillespie picking three wickets each.
The Aussie openers duly reached the small target to complete victory within three days. The 10-wicket win was Australia's 16th on the trot.
Glenn McGrath ensured the hosts were on the ropes again, and he also won his battle against bitter rival Sachin Tendulkar. VVS Laxman (59) looked a class-apart in the ruins, but India were dismissed early on day 3 for 171. Steve Waugh enforced the follow on and it looked like the Aussies will wrap up victory number 17 within three days again.
But the Indian opening duo of Shiv Sunder Das (39) and Sadagopan Ramesh (30) showed character and the will power to wage a battle. India were fighting hard, but when Sachin Tendulkar was sent back with the score reading 115/3, it looked like a matter of time before the hosts would collapse again. VVS Laxman's first innings brilliance had seen him being promoted to no 3 and he along with Indian captain Sourav Ganguly started a rearguard. The duo put together a 117-run stand before Ganguly was sent back for 48.
VVS Laxman and Rahul Dravid during their marathon partnership at the Eden Gardens in 2001 (Getty Images)
There could be only one winner and it was India, but the Aussie opening duo of Hayden and Slater batted with resolve. Harbhajan Singh broke the opening stand by sending back Slater and then accounted for Justin Langer. Venkatpathy Raju sent back Mark Waugh cheaply to raise the Indian hopes, but captain Steve Waugh in the company of the brilliant Hayden kept the Aussies afloat. But Harbhajan broke the crucial partnership by sending back Waugh and then quickly wrapped up a struggling Ricky Ponting. Sachin Tendulkar was handed the ball and the master contributed by sending back the dangerous Adam Gilchrist and Hayden in quick succession, followed by the wicket of Shane Warne.
After the epic Kolkata battle, Chennai's historic Chepauk stadium hosted the decider. Matthew Hayden was once again the visitors' best batsman as he slammed a terrific double ton to nullify another 7-wicket haul by Harbhajan Singh as Australia piled up 391 in the first innings. India's response was grand to say the least. Openers Shiv Sunder Das (84) and Sadagopan Ramesh (61) finally found their mojo and VVS Laxman was at his artistic best again as he notched up a half-century. But the innings of India's reply came from the blade of Sachin Tendulkar. The batting maestro scored 126 and shared an important partnership with Rahul Dravid (81) to take India to a huge total of 501, the hosts a lead of over hundred runs.
Harbhajan Singh's devastating spell left the Aussies flummoxed, the young spinner picking up 8 wickets in the second innings to take his match tally to 15 wickets as the visitors folded for 264, setting India a target of 155 runs to win the match and the series.
But the Australian bowlers were in no mood to make it easy for the Indians as they struck in regular intervals to keep the visitors in the game. With the entire top order struggling, VVS Laxman played a gem of a knock to tilt the balance in India's favour. He was at his majestic best as he scored 66 of just 82 deliveries. When Laxman was dismissed, India needed 20 more runs for victory with four wickets in hand. Wicket-keeper batsman Sameer Dighe kept chipping away at the target but wickets kept falling around him. Eventually Harbhajan Singh deservedly got the winning runs as India edged out Australia by 2 wickets in another tense finish, which concluded perhaps the most interesting Test series in modern cricket history.
2004-05: AUSTRALIA BEAT INDIA 2-1 - GILCHRIST'S AUSSIES FINALLY CONQUER INDIA
Under Sourav Ganguly, India had made giant strides in all formats, and their form in Test cricket at home was nothing short of formidable. But the Australians were still the team to beat in world cricket and they were desperate to win a series in India. Full-time captain Ricky Ponting was injured and missed the first three Test matches, and that meant Adam Gilchrist was leading the side.
Indian batsmen got starts but none of them went on to even get a half-century. Glenn McGrath was the pick of the bowlers, taking 4 wickets, as India ended up with 246 in the first innings. Harbhajan Singh added 6 wickets more to his first innings tally of 5 as the Aussies were bowled out for 228 runs, setting India a target of 457 runs to win the match. The well oiled Aussie bowling unit dismantled India yet again as the visitors won the match by 217 runs.
The second Test in Chennai saw the Aussies make another good start, with openers Justin Langer (71) & Matthew Hayden (58) putting together a century stand. Once Harbhajan dismissed both openers in the space of three deliveries, it was down to the magic of Anil Kumble, who picked up 7 wickets to dismiss Australia for 235 runs.
Buoyed by an attacking knock of 155 by opener Virender Sehwag, India piled up 376 runs in the first innings, despite a 6-wicket haul by Shane Warne. Kumble responded for India by picking 6 wickets to take a 10-wicket match haul, but a defiant century from Damien Martyn (104) took Australia to 369, setting India a challenging total of 229 runs to draw level in the series.
Gilchrist called it right at the toss again and the Aussies got first use of the placid Nagpur track in the third Test. Damien Martyn's purple patch continued as he stroked his way to another century, scoring 114 this time. Darren Lehmann (70) and Michael Clarke (91) ensured the visitors ended up with 398 on the board.
The Australian bowlers were proving to be a menace for India and this time it was Jason Gillespie (5/56) who outshone McGrath and Warne in dismantling the hosts. Mohammed Kaif was the lone Indian to get a half-century as the Indians were bowled out for 185. Simon Katich (99), Damien Martyn (97) and Michael Clarke (70) were instrumental in the Aussies getting some quick runs as they declared their second innings for 329.
The final Test in Mumbai was played on a minefield of a wicket, which turned square from the first day. The hosts were bundled out for 104 in the first innings with Gillespie again leading the charge with 4 wickets.
India had gone in with three spinners in the match and while Anil Kumble picked up a five-wicket haul, left-arm spinner Murali Kartik picked up four to restrict Australia to 203. Michael Clarke's part-time spin was handy enough in the Indian second innings as he picked up 6 wickets. VVS Laxman (69) and Sachin Tendulkar (55) took the Indian score past the 200-run mark.
Australia needed 107 runs to complete victory on the third day itself and heap further misery on the hosts. But the script changed dramatically and the protagonist was an old nemesis of the Aussies, Harbhajan Singh. The off spinner picked up five wickets as the visitors were bowled out for 93. India registered a consolation win by 13 runs, but the Aussies had finally conquered the 'Final Frontier'.
2007-08: INDIA BEAT AUSTRALIA 2-0 - INDIA DOMINATE AUSSIES AS GREATS SIGN OFF ON A HIGH
After an extremely bitter tour down under earlier in the year, sparks were expected to fly as the Aussies came calling under Ricky Ponting. One of the main protagonists of the drama on India's tour of Australia, Andrew Symonds, was missing from the squad.
Indian captain Anil Kumble missed the second Test in Mohali due to a shoulder injury, and he was replaced at the helm by limited overs captain MS Dhoni. India batted first and were bolstered by two old war horses. Sachin Tendulkar scored a fluent 88 but the star of India's first innings was Sourav Ganguly, who scored a fighting century. MS Dhoni's stroke filled knock of 92 down the order meant India notched up 469 in the first innings.
The third Test was played on a flat track in Feroze Shah Kotla in Delhi which saw the hosts score 613 runs in the first innings. Double centuries from Gautam Gambhir (206) and VVS Laxman (200*) made mincemeat of the Aussie bowling. Australia's response was equally solid as most of the top order players went on to score big runs. Michael Clarke (112) was the only centurion as the visitors scored 577. The match was eventually drawn and that brought the curtains down on the career of India's biggest bowling match-winner since Kapil Dev.
Captain Anil Kumble bade an emotional goodbye after representing India in 132 Tests on a ground where he had picked up all ten wickets in an innings against Pakistan.
The final Test was played in Nagpur and the hosts batted first after captain Dhoni called it right at the toss. After a blistering start from Virender Sehwag (66), it was the Indian middle-order which did all the damage. Sachin Tendulkar (109), VVS Laxman (64) and Sourav Ganguly (85) along with another MS Dhoni cameo took the total to 441. Australian Off-spinner Jason Krejza picked up 8 wickets.
A Simon Katich century (102) and an innings of 90 by Michael Hussey guided the Aussies to 355, but the hosts were still in front. Powered by Virender Sehwag's 92 at the top of the order, India scored 295 in the second innings, setting Australia a target of 382 runs to win the the last Test and level the series.
Harbhajan Singh (4/64) and Amit Mishra (3/27) put paid to Australia's hopes as India won the match by 172 runs and wrapped up the series 2-0.
Another Indian legend, former captain Sourav Ganguly, called it quits from international cricket and was given a hero's sending off.
2010-11: INDIA BEAT AUSTRALIA 2-0 - MOHALI THRILLER HIGHLIGHT OF SHORTEST SERIES EVER
By the time Ricky Ponting led Australia on his final Indian sojourn, MS Dhoni's team were already the top ranked unit in Test cricket. The first Test in Mohali saw the tourists notch up 428 runs in the first innings, thanks mainly to a century by opener Shane Watson (126).
India responded by scoring 405, with Tendulkar (98) unlucky to miss out on another century against his favourite rivals. Suresh Raina played a good hand of 86. The Aussies though collapsed in the second innings, dismissed for 192 with pacers Zaheer Khan (3/43) and Ishant Sharma (3/34) doing the damage.
India needed 216 runs to win the match but Aussie pace duo of Ben Hilfenhaus and Doug Bollinger made a match out of it by wrecking the top order. When Tendulkar (38) was dismissed with the score at 119/6, an Australian victory looked like the only possibility. At 124/8 Australia were just two wickets away from victory. But the brilliance of VVS Laxman came to the fore yet again as he farmed the strike and batted responsibly with the tailenders. Ishant Sharma's knock of 31 of 92 deliveries gave India hope as he shared a 81-run 10th-wicket stand with Laxman. Ishant was dismissed with 11 runs still needed for victory and the Aussies sniffed a chance. But Pragyan Ojha kept his cool and gave company to Laxman, who guided India to victory in a cliffhanger with an unbeaten 73.
The second Test at Bangalore again saw the Aussies score big in the first innings. Middle order batsman Marcus North top scored with 128 as the visitors piled up 478 runs. India's response was strong as well, the hosts scoring 495 runs. Opener Murali Vijay (139) notched up his maiden Test century but the match belonged to Sachin Tendulkar as the veteran piled up 214 runs to put India in the lead.
The Indian bowlers were on the money in the second innings once again as Australia collapsed from 126/4 to 223 all out. India needed 207 runs to win the match and sweep the series and they found a new hero. Debutant Cheteshwar Pujara more than made up for his first innings miss by scoring 72 invaluable runs to put India on the victory path. Sachin Tendulkar capped his memorable Test by scoring a half-century as India won by 7 wickets.
2012-13: INDIA BEAT AUSTRALIA 4-0 - ASHWIN MAGIC HELPS DHONI AVENGE WHITEWASH WITH WHITEWASH
India were blanked 4-0 on their tour down under a year back and revenge was on the mind of Dhoni and his men. A century by captain Michael Clarke (130) helped the visitors post 380 in the first innings of the first Test at Chennai. A Virat Kohli (107) century and a savage attack by MS Dhoni, which saw him score 224 runs in just 265 deliveries, meant the hosts posted 572 in the first innings.
The second Test at Hyderabad saw the Aussies being bundled out for 237 in the first innings with skipper Clarke (91) doing the bulk of the scoring. Murali Vijay (167) and Cheteshwar Pujara (204) put together 370 runs for the second wicket as India batted the Aussies out of the match by posting 503 in the first innings.
R Ashwin (5/63) and Ravindra Jadeja (3/33) spun a magic web as Australia were bowled out for 131 in the second innings and India won the match by an innings and 135 runs to take a 2-0 lead in the series.
Australia again floundered in the second innings and were bowled out for 223. India chased down the modest target of 133 runs and registered a 6-wicket win to wrap up the series and take a 3-0 lead.
With the series in the bag, India wanted to make it a whitewash in the final Test at the Kotla in Delhi. R Ashwin took another five-wicket haul as the visitors were dismissed for 262 in the first innings. Australian off spinner Nathan Lyon responded with a 7-wicket haul as India were dismissed for 272. But Australia's chances of staging a comeback were squashed as Ravindra Jadeja took five wickets in the second innings to bowl the visitors out for 164.
Cheteshwar Pujara's unbeaten 82 helped India win the match by 6 wickets and complete a 4-0 whitewash. R Ashwin ended the series with 29 wickets, Jadeja had 24 in his kitty.