Why Border-Gavaskar Trophy is almost as important as the Ashes for Australia

For a sport that was once dominated by Australia and England, the rise of India as a superpower has dramatically altered the political landscape of world cricket and created another major rivalry.

The Ashes urn remains the most coveted prize for Australian cricket but the Border-Gavaskar Trophy is not far behind.

Virat Kohli with the Border-Gavaskar trophy after India’s last, successful tour of Australia.Credit:Getty Images

The importance of the series has escalated significantly in the past six years as each side has become more competitive away from home.

Throughout my career, I never felt India would trouble us in Australia but with one Test remaining they are still a chance to retain the trophy here and, if they play right out of their skins, win back-to-back series.

I have loved the way India have competed despite losing so many top-line players to injury. The pressure is right on Tim Paine and his Australian team, who have close to every advantage available to them.

I am not a big fan of declaring any venue a fortress but the Gabba is that for Australia, who have not lost there since being beaten by the West Indies in 1988.

Australia should start short-priced favourites when you consider India have lost five of their six games at the venue and are decimated by injury.

Already weakened by the absence of captain Virat Kohli, India could well be without their first-choice pace attack if Jasprit Bumrah is out, as expected. To put that into perspective, how would Australia fare without Steve Smith, Pat Cummins, Josh Hazlewood and Mitchell Starc?

Ajinkya Rahane may well be relying on a paceman playing his third Test, Mohammed Siraj, another in his second, Navdeep Saini, and a debutant to lead the charge at the pace-friendly ground. It's a mighty challenge but not insurmountable if they have the right mindset.

The task ahead of India is not dissimilar to that faced by the 1995 Australian side I led in the decider in the Caribbean. Missing Craig McDermott and Damien Fleming to injury in a game we had to win to topple the mighty West Indies, we turned to the then inexperienced trio of Paul Reiffel, Brendon Julian and Glenn McGrath.

The Waugh twins set the game up with their epic stand but we still needed to take 20 wickets. As well as each of the quicks bowled, that combination did not play another Test together.

If India can get the job done in Brisbane and beat a strong Australian side close to full strength, it will go down as one of the greatest series wins in modern times.

Paine's legacy is assured after becoming the first Australian captain to retain the Ashes in England in 18 years. Equally, he will not want to go down in history as the first skipper to lead Australia to consecutive series defeats at home to India.

This has been a difficult week for Paine, whose troubles in Sydney reaffirmed my belief of how difficult it is for a wicketkeeper to be captain.

As impressed as I have been with his leadership during an unsettled period for the team, it was inevitable he'd have a day where his performance suffered and his team struggled.

Sydney is a tough venue for keepers, particularly on the fifth day when the spinners are operating and the chances are often tough. Add to that the frustration of bat pads not going to hand, balls just missing fielders and it's a real test of your skill and temperament.

That said, I have every confidence Paine will make amends in Brisbane. The fans want to see hard competitive cricket where players are respectful of the opposition – and the headlines made with bat and ball.

After the month of cricket we have seen, this series between two great rivals deserves such a finish.

Mark Taylor played 104 Tests for Australia, 50 of them as captain, and scored 7525 runs. He is a former Cricket Australia board member.

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