It is always a challenge for the overseas cricketers to rack up runs in a Test match in Indian conditions. Even some of the finest timers of the red-ball, who possess astounding numbers to back their credibility and are known for their performance in the whites, have had their fair share of struggles when competing against the Indian attack in the subcontinent.
In fact, it has been observed that irrespective of a player’s spin playing ability, it is an excruciating and toiling task to gather runs on the Indian wickets. Shedding light on the same, let us take a look at four legendary Test batsmen who failed to deliver to their caliber and expectations in India-
Ricky Ponting (Australia)
Ponting played a pivotal role during the dominating era of the Australian cricket team, piling up a mountain of runs in his hay days both at home and away conditions. A mighty player who completely annihilated the Indian bowling attack in the Aussie conditions, scoring 1893 runs in 15 matches while averaging a whopping 86.03, he had a torrid run when facing the same in the Indian conditions, most notably, off-spinner Harbhajan Singh, who dismissed the batting legend on a total of 10 occasions.
It started with the history tour of 2000-01, where Ponting scored 17 runs across five innings at an average of 3.40. He was injured during the initial few games during the 2004-05 Border Gavaskar Trophy, only to return in the final Test at Wankhede to score 11 and 12.
Nicknamed ‘Punter’, the Aussie great had a modest run in 2008-09 series – 266 runs across four Tests at an average of 38.00, including a 123 in the first match at M Chinnaswamy stadium in Bengaluru. It was only in his final tour in 2010-11 that he found the scoring formula and aggregated 224 runs in 4 innings, with 3 fifty-plus totals, and an average of 56.00.
For his reputation as one of the most classy yet aggressive cricketers the game has seen, Ponting could amass only 662 runs in 14 matches, averaging under 27.00, with a sole hundred to his name.
Aravinda de Silva (Sri Lanka)
Without an iota of doubt, former Sri Lanka skipper Aravinda de Silva was one of the most technically sound batsmen from the subcontinent and a crisis man for his team on a number of occasions. He is the only cricketer to hammer two unbeaten hundreds in a Test match, a feat that he achieved against Pakistan in 1997. His grit and unwary determination backing his talent and stroke play made him a hard nut for the bowlers in his cricketing days.
Although a proficient cricketer in terms of reading spin and tackling the pace, a tally of 20 Test tons, with five of those against India in the longest format, de Silva had his problems when battling the same attack in Indian conditions.
From his first three tours of India in 1986-87, 1990-91, and 1993-94, the right-hander could amass just 176 runs in total. However, he finished it on a high in his final tour in 1997-98, averaging 75.67 and striking 227 runs in 3 Tests with an unbeaten 110 in the inaugural match of the series in Mohali.
Overall, In 11 Test appearances in India, the former Sri Lankan legend averaged 25.19 and could hoard just 403 runs including a century and half-century.
Graeme Smith (South Africa)
Both as a captain and batsman, Graeme Smith’s contribution to South African cricket is invaluable. Taking over the captaincy at the age of 22 years, the southpaw emerged as one of the greatest openers in the longest format of the game, compiling 9265 runs in 117 Tests at an average of 48.26. What’s noteworthy are his numbers in the final innings of a Test match in a winning cause – most runs (1141) and most hundreds (4) that haven’t been matched since his retirement and thus, they keep him in a league of his own.
However, there’s more to the plot. Despite smashing 28 Test tons in his career and being among the front runners in many Protea victories, the Johannesburg-born couldn’t ram a single hundred against India in their own backyard.
His first tour was in 2004-05, clocked a solitary fifty across two Tests while amassing 155 runs at an average of 38.50. The next was during 2007-08, where he cumulated 246 runs including 2 fifty-plus totals in 3 Tests at an average of 49.20. He was one of the leading run-getters in the series and one would have surely anticipated a similar or perhaps even a better show in the much-anticipated tour in 2009-10, considering the manner in which he was compiling runs in the matches played in between.
As a captain, Smith was near to beating India in their own den during the tour of 2010-11, winning the first Test at Nagpur, but the hosts bounced back in the second Test in Kolkata, courtesy of a Virender Sehwag’s masterclass knock of 165 in 174 deliveries to draw the series 1-1. While as an overseas unit it was a positive tour for South Africa, their skipper, Graeme Smith, had a forgettable run with the willow, registering scores of 6, 4 and 20 and averaging just 10.00 in the series.
All in all, the Protea legend competed in 7 Tests in India and aggregated 431 runs at an average of 35.92, with 3 fifties and a high score of 73.
Adam Gilchrist (Australia)
A man of clutch moments and one of the fearless cricketers the game has ever produced, someone who came down the batting order and unleashed a barrage of sixes and fours at will and snatch the game from the opposition. A strike rate of 81.96 and an average of 47.61 in 96 appearances for the Aussies can give a fair sense of his destruction laying ability in the long format.
Zooming further into the statistics then one can observe the challenges that even Gilchrist faced when batting in India. While he averages over 40 in nine Test-playing nations, his average dipped to 28.50 in India. The southpaw competed in 7 matches on the Indian pitches and scored an exact 342 runs comprising two Test tons.
His maiden tour was during 2000-01, scoring a blistering 112-ball 122 in the first Test at Wankhede and ensuring an Australian triumph. What followed thereafter was a string of single-digit scores of 0, 0, 1, 1 in the three-match series.
Even during the historic tour in 2004-05 where he excelled as a captain with 2 wins in the first three matches of the series and pulled off a herculean Australian triumph, Gilchrists’ numbers with the bat read – 218 runs across 8 innings, an average of 31.14, with a century (124) in the opening match at Wankhede.