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Best of the ODIs: India in Australia


Australia_India_ODI_CricketIndia’s tour of Australia is reaching its denouement, with the deciding third ODI set to be played in Melbourne on January 18. This final game presents another chance for both teams to figure out their best combination ahead of the World Cup. India have had a rather underwhelming ODI record in Australia thus far, winning 12 and losing 36 out of 50 games. On the eve of the decider, here is a look back at five exciting ODIs played between the two teams down under.

World Cup League Stage, Brisbane, 1991-92

Having lost to co-hosts New Zealand and newcomers South Africa in their first two games of the 1992 World Cup, defending champions Australia desperately needed a win to stay afloat. India too were yet to register a win, as their opening loss to England was followed by a rained-out fixture against Sri Lanka. Seamers Kapil Dev and Manoj Prabhakar took three wickets apiece to restrict Australia to 237/9, with the cornerstone being Dean Jones’ assertive 90 from 108 balls.

India ambled to 45/1 in the 17th over, at which point a rain intervention caused a delay of 15 minutes. The controversial rain-rule, which would go on to be a talking point of the tournament, was thus implemented, leaving India with a revised target of 236 from 47 overs. Captain Mohammad Azharuddin rose to the challenge, striking 93 from 103 balls to keep his team in the hunt. He was fifth out at 194, which brought an end to a stand of 66 with Sanjay Manjrekar (47).

The excitement grew as the chase went on, boiling down to an equation of 13 from the final over, bowled by Tom Moody. Kiran More smashed two fours, but was bowled off the next ball. Prabhakar managed a single before getting run out. With four needed, Javagal Srinath swung hard, but the ball was cut short by Steve Waugh before it touched the boundary. As the batsmen went for the third run, Venkatapathy Raju was run out, handing Australia a thrilling one-run win.

Seventh ODI, VB Series, Sydney, 2003-04

India lost three wickets for 80, including the key wickets of captain Sourav Ganguly and Rahul Dravid, after electing to bat in this tri-series clash. However, this paved the way for a fourth-wicket partnership of 213 between VVS Laxman and Yuvraj Singh, which still remains India’s highest stand on Australian soil. Laxman stayed unbeaten on 106 from 130 balls, while Yuvraj went on the attack with a brilliant 139 from 122 balls, taking the Indian total to a powerful 296/4.

Adam Gilchrist launched off in style, and when rain stopped play, the score read 73/1 in the tenth over. The target was duly revised to 225 from 34 overs. Australia were cruising at 150/1 after 21 overs, but then lost three wickets for four runs, Gilchrist being fourth out for a 72-ball 95. After a few more twists, it came down to 11 from the last over. With seven needed in three balls, Brett Lee hit Lakshmipathy Balaji for six, before taking a single to seal a two-wicket win for Australia.

Second Final, Commonwealth Bank Series, Brisbane, 2007-08

A convincing six-wicket win in the first final at Sydney had brought India on the cusp of history – never before in five attempts had they won the triangular series in Australia. MS Dhoni called correctly at the toss, and openers Robin Uthappa and Sachin Tendulkar provided a solid platform by putting on 94. Tendulkar, fresh off a superb 117* in the first final, further strengthened the innings through a third-wicket stand of 54 with Yuvraj Singh, and looked set for another century.

But the gentle left-arm spin of Michael Clarke consumed Tendulkar for 91 off 121 balls in the 40th over, with the score now 205/4. Australia fought back admirably at the death, restricting India to 258/9. Praveen Kumar struck early for India, having Gilchrist caught behind by skipper MS Dhoni for just two runs. This was Gilchrist’s final international outing, after having served Australia with distinction for more than 11 years. The new man in was captain Ricky Ponting.

In his following over, Kumar (4/46) snared Ponting as well, reducing Australia to 8/2, and soon after, Clarke became the Uttar Pradesh paceman’s third victim to make it 32/3 in nine overs. Matthew Hayden (55), also playing what would be his last ODI, shared in a stand of 89 with Andrew Symonds before both batsmen perished within the space of three balls. Mike Hussey and James Hopes (63) kept the fight going, combining for a sixth-wicket partnership that fetched 76.

The game was on an even keel with Australia needing 60 in 49 balls, when Shanthakumaran Sreesanth sent Hussey back to give India the upper hand. Australian hopes now lay on Hopes, who was still out there in the middle when Irfan Pathan began the final over, off which 13 runs were required with two wickets left. But his valiant attempt at forcing a deciding final went in vain, as he was the last man out off the fourth delivery, giving India a famous win by nine runs.

Fourth ODI, Commonwealth Bank Series, Adelaide, 2011-12

Besides losing all four Test matches, India also failed to make it to the final of the triangular series on the 2011-12 Australian tour. They managed three wins in the tournament, one of which was this last-gasp triumph over the hosts. Australia’s total of 269/8 revolved around a 98-run partnership between Peter Forrest (66) and David Hussey (72), who came together at a tricky 81/3. In reply, openers Gautam Gambhir and Virender Sehwag built a stand of 52 in nine overs.

Gambhir went on to score 92, before being fourth out at 178 in the 35th over. Suresh Raina and Dhoni kept the chase on track, adding 61 for the fifth wicket. But the asking rate was climbing, and when Clint McKay began the last over, India needed 13. Dhoni came on strike with 11 to win in four balls, and eased Indian nerves with a six. A no-ball plus two more runs helped, before Dhoni (44*) sneaked for three to secure his team’s four-wicket win with two balls to spare.

Fifth ODI, Sydney, 2015-16

India were looking for consolation in this final encounter of their first bilateral ODI series in Australia, after having lost each of the first four matches. A clean sweep seemed likely at the halfway stage, as Australia piled up 330/7 after being put in to bat. David Warner (122) and Mitchell Marsh (102*) added 118 for the fifth wicket to revive the innings from a wobbly 117/4. India responded strongly, with Rohit Sharma and Shikhar Dhawan forging an opening alliance of 123.

Dhawan fell for 78, but Rohit added 97 for the third wicket with Manish Pandey before getting out for 99. Pandey joined forces with Dhoni for a fourth-wicket stand of 94 that was broken only in the last over, which began with India needing 13. With six needed off four balls, Pandey (104* in 81 balls) reached his first ODI ton with a four, before taking two more to complete a six-wicket win for India. This was the first successful 300-plus chase against Australia in Australia.

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Rustom Deboo is a cricket aficionado and freelance writer from Mumbai. He is an ardent devotee of T...

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