Ahead of the ODI series between India and Australia, let’s look at some of the memorable encounters between the two teams.
India and the host Australia met at Gabba during the 1992 World Cup for one of the closest encounters in ODI cricket. The hosts won the toss and for the captain Allan Border it was an easy decision to bat first. They key contributions came from David Boon and Dean Jones after both openers failed. Boon scored a handy 43 off 60 deliveries whereas Jones played a brilliant knock of 90. Interestingly, both Kapil Dev and Manoj Prabhakar finished with 3 for 41 as both bowled brilliantly and restricted Australia to 237/9. India lost an early wicket of Krish Srikkanth which resulted in Ravi Shastri getting into his shell and scoring a painstaking 25 off 67 balls. The captain Mohammad Azharuddin led the chase with 93 and kept building small but valuable partnerships with Sachin Tendulkar, Kapil Dev and Sanjay Manjarekar. There was more drama in store as rain also played its part and eventually India’s target was 235 in 47 overs. When Azhar was run out by Border India still needed 41 but the lower order failed to keep calm. Manjarekar was also run out and India lost their last three wickets for just four runs and lost the match by a margin of one run.
India played triangular series in Australia since the mid-80s but had to wait till 2008 for their first triumph. It was a memorable win with a young squad. India and Sri Lanka travelled to Australia for the tri-series. It was a young Indian team without Sourav Ganguly, Rahul Dravid, and Anil Kumble, led by young MS Dhoni and only Sachin Tendulkar was there to guide the juniors. Still, they surprised everyone and reached the final. They even won the first of the best-of-three final thanks to a Tendulkar hundred during the chase. They travelled to Gabba for the second final. Tendulkar again led the way with a brilliant 91 to take his team to 258/9. Important contributions were made by Yuvraj Singh (38), MS Dhoni (36) and Robin Uthappa (30). A win for Australia was essential but Praveen Kumar rose to the occasion against Australian legends. Adam Gilchrist, Ricky Ponting and Michael Clarke, all of them were dismissed by Kumar within first 10 overs. However, Australia made a strong come back and Michael Hussey led the chase. He added 89 runs in a partnership with Andrew Symonds followed by another 76-run partnership with James Hopes. However, the Indians kept trying and eventually got the key wickets at right time. Kumar finished with four wickets as Irfan Pathan picked up two wickets in the 50th over to give India a memorable 9-run victory.
In November 2009, the two teams played one of their most exciting encounters. Batting first Australia posted 350/4 thanks to century from Shaun Marsh who scored 112 and his fellow opener Shane Watson who scored 93. Even Australia’s middle-order batters Ricky Ponting, Cameron White, and Michael Hussey all got starts and every player scored with a strike rate above 100. For India, only Praveen Kumar could pick up two wickets and Harbhajan Singh held his own by conceding just 44 runs in his 10 overs among the carnage. Sachin Tendulkar and Virender Sehwag had a good start and raced to 66 before Sehwag was dismissed by Ben Hilfenhaus for 30-ball 38. Tendulkar was also set and playing beautifully but India’s middle order failed to provide support as Gautam Gambhir, Yuvraj Singh and the captain MS Dhoni all were dismissed for single-digit scores. Tendulkar found an able ally in Suresh Raina with whom he added 137 runs and took India to 299 before Raina was dismissed for run-a-ball 59. At that stage, India required 52 runs off 45 balls and with Tendulkar batting on 150 plus, it looked like an easy job. But the Australians kept fighting and eventually Clint McKey got rid of Tendulkar for 175. India still required 19 and India’s lower order faltered. Two run-outsmade the situation worse and India lost the match agonisingly by just three runs.
During Australia’s next tour Sachin Tendulkar already retired and the baton was gradually getting handed over to Virat Kohli. In a high scoring match Australia batted first and posted 359 runs, exactly the same score they posted in 2003 World Cup final. There were no centurion for the Aussies but all their top five batters reached half-century with the captain George Bailey remaining unbeaten on 92. Despite the steep target Indians started the chase freely as Rohit Sharma and Shikhar Dhawan added 95 runs in first 15 overs and remained almost at par with the required run rate. Eventually, the opening partnership was broken in the 27th over by James Faulkner as Dhawan was dismissed for 95 with the team total of 176. At this stage the chasestill looked reachable for India. If they could maintain this scorecard, they would be able to give a good fight. However, the entry of Virat Kohli changed everything. The dashing batter started hitting from the first ball and almost middled everything. He reached his fifty in just 27 balls with 3 fours and 4 sixes. Soon, Sharma reached his century but all focus was on Kohli who was batting in a different plain. Thanks to him, India crossed 300 in the 39th over. Kohli’s second fifty was even faster, and he reached his 100 in just 52balls, still the fastest ODI hundred by an Indian player. Rohit Sharma remained unbeaten on 141 and completed the chase comfortably in the 44th over.
During India’s 2019 tour of Australia,the series was labelled 1-1 as two teams faced each other in the third match at Melbourne Cricket Ground. Virat Kohli, the Indian captain, won the toss and decided to bowl first. The Indian bowlers maintained their discipline and Bhuvaneshwar Kumar picked up two wickets within first 10 overs. There were some recoveriesdone by Usman Khawaja and Shaun Marsh but the Indian leg-spinner Yuzvendra Chahal got into his groove and started making dents in the Australian innings. He dismissed both Marsh and Khawaja in the same over and went on to pick up four more wickets as he finished with six wickets for 42 runs. Mohammad Shami picked up two wickets and Australians were all out for 230 in the 49th over. Peter Handscomb top scored for them with 58. The Indians batted sensibly and although the chase went to the last over, they were always in control. MS Dhoni and Kedar Jadav completed the chase with an unbeaten 121-runs partnership as both completed individual half-centuries. Indian won by 7 wickets and Chahal was the obvious choice for the player-of-the-match for his bowling heroics.
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