Mumbai: Beating any team in their backyard is tough. So much so that a bad tour can bring curtains down on a cricketer. While Team India prepares for Down Under, let us remember three Indian players whose Test career met with sudden death after India’s tour of Australia in 1999-2000.
Devang Gandhi – a right-handed batsman – did wonders for Bengal in domestic cricket. Even for India, he started off in Tests with two steady half-centuries against New Zealand in 1999. Selectors thought they solved the never-ending ‘opener’ problem. But came the tour of Australia and Gandhi couldn’t handle Glenn McGrath, scoring 4 and 0 at Adelaide – the first Test in the series. Result? He never came back to the Test team.
MSK Prasad – a right-handed batsman and wicketkeeper from Andhra Pradesh – stepped into Nayan Mongia’s shoes before the home series against New Zealand in 1999 – yes, same as that of Gandhi. His wicketkeeping skills weren’t under scrutiny but his bat could not do the talking in the Australian tour. He registered scores of 5 and 3 (Sydney – his last Test), 14 and 11 (Adelaide), 6 and 13 (Melbourne Cricket Ground (MCG) – Brett Lee’s debut Test). The younger Lee ran through Prasad in the first innings at the MCG. Since then, he hasn’t donned the gloves in an international Test match.
Vijay Bharadwaj – a right-arm offbreak bowler from Karnataka who could bat a bit – rose to prominence during the LG Cup (four-nation one-day international tournament) held in Nairobi in 1999 where he won player of the tournament. Due to the good show in limited overs, he confirmed his ticket to Australia and like Gandhi and Prasad, the mighty Aussies exposed him in the same season. Going wicketless and not being among runs in the Sydney Test pulled him down. He scored 6 and was absent hurt for the next innings.
While Prasad played all three Tests in the series, Gandhi and Bharadwaj only played at Adelaide and Sydney respectively.
It has been 15 years and three of them retired early from international cricket. In 2014 – when the Indians are about to start another Test series in Australia – one can only pray for them to do well in the bouncy pitches. It wasn’t easy in 2011-2012, it remains to be seen whether they can avenge the whitewash.
Can the Australians demolish another Indian cricketer in the tour Down Under? What do you think? Whom do you think it could be?