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Best Border-Gavaskar Trophy Tests: No.7

A 1998 masterclass from the Little Master himself features in the first Test in our countdown to the best Border-Gavaskar Test of all-time

India play Test No.500 against New Zealand in Kanpur next week, and to mark the occasion, cricket.com.au is counting down the best seven India v Australia Test matches since the Border-Gavankar Trophy was introduced in 1996.

The two nations have played out some absolute classics in those 20 years, and they'll add another chapter to the rivalry when Australia tour India in February.

Best Border-Gavaskar Tests

7) A masterclass from the Little Master

6) An emotional tribute to a lost mate

5) Clarke heroics seal controversial victory

4) Waugh's words spur Dravid to heroic Test

3) Harbhajan the hero as India seal series

2) Injured Laxman the hero in Mohali thriller

7. First Test, MA Chidambaram Stadium, Chennai, 1998

India 257 (Sidhu 62, Robertson 4-72, Warne 4-85) and 4-418 declared (Tendulkar 155no, Azharuddin 64) beat Australia 328 (Healy 90, M Waugh 66, Robertson 57, Kumble 4-103) and 168 (Warne 35, Kumble 4-46) by 179 runs.

Sachin Tendulkar played his fair share of match-winning knocks against Australia, but his innings in the ’98 Chennai Test might just take the cake.

On a dusty, spin-friendly track, he perished for just four in India’s first innings, playing a part in a condensed encounter against Shane Warne that would be a curtain-raiser for what was to come in the second innings.

Having driven Warne’s first delivery back past him for a glorious straight boundary, Tendulkar advanced a few balls later in an attempt to repeat the dose, but was undone by the cunning leg-spinner, as Australia skipper Mark Taylor took a sharp catch at first slip.

 

Warne went on to remove India skipper Mohammad Azharuddin and Rahul Dravid, as he and spin-twin Gavin Robertson accounted for eight of India’s first-innings wickets, helping to rout the hosts for 257.

Ian Healy’s 90, with help from half-century makers Mark Waugh and No.10 Robertson, gave Australia a 71-run advantage, allowing the tourists to eye an unlikely 1-0 Border-Gavaskar series lead.

Cue Tendulkar.

The diminuitive Indian produced one of his most dazzling Test innings, treating Warne and Roberston with disdain in a 286-minute salvo.

 

Despite his first-innings hiccup, Tendulkar was well-prepared for Warne.

On the advice of former India star Ravi Shastri, he’d spent the lead-up to the Test facing leg-spin bowlers operating from around-the-wicket aiming at rough patches outside his leg-stump.

When Warne did come around the wicket on the wearing Chennai pitch, the right-hander swept and pulled against the sharp turn of Australia’s major bowling threat, leaving the King of Spin exasperated.

Robertson and pace-bowling pair Michael Kasprowicz and Paul Reiffel fared little better, as Tendulkar flayed Australia’s attack to all parts, finishing unbeaten on 155, a 191-ball knock that changed the course of the match.

After Azharuddin declared late on day four, Australia lost three wickets before stumps and never recovered. They were bundled out for 168 on the final day, as India completed a stunning turnaround.

After their 179-run victory in Chennai, the hosts went on to win the next Test to seal the series – one which will be remembered for perhaps the Little Master’s greatest masterclass.

Meg Lanning Steve Smith