It’s that time of the year again when India locks horns with Australia in a seven-match ODI series and one T20 game starting two days from now, and as usual, the hosts start firm favourites.
But given the amount of cricket that’s on display these days, it won’t be stretching the truth a bit far when I say that the thrill of the contest between the top two ODI teams in the world might just have been lost. With the excitement of the on-going English Premier League, viewership of this series may take a beating.
Australia, traditionally, have done well in this part of the world in the 50-over format. Even the numbers stand in their favour – the Kangaroos have won 64 of the 109 games played with the Indian side since 1980. However, it will take all of their skills and no small amount of luck to dethrone the current world champions, and their recent form doesn’t suggest that.
George Bailey, leading the side in the absence of Michael Clarke, knows all too well the kind of form MS Dhoni’s outfit is in right now. A 5-2 scoreline will see the team from Down Under topple the Blue Brigade from the top spot in the rankings. That’s easier said than done, though it never pays to underestimate the opposition, as Dhoni will be well aware.
Be it Ravi Shastri’s heroics in 1985 or Mark Waugh’s magnificent century against the Indians in the 1996 World Cup, the battles between the two sides have not been shorn of excitement. But the Men in Blue have always come back hard at the opposition from defeat – with batting maestro Sachin Tendulkar leading the way in the late nineties before young turks Yuvraj Singh and Zaheer Khan arrived to take the baton forward.
On the eve of the 2013 series, here is a look at five of the best ever ODI games played between the two sides, creating magical moments forever etched in cricketing history:
5. Second Quarter Final, World Cup, Ahmedabad, March 2011 (Dethroning the Champions)
Australia were in pursuit of an unprecedented fifth title in ODI cricket’s quadrennial showpiece, while India were looking to regain the trophy they had won 28 years ago. Eventually, it all boiled down to which team wanted the win more.
From the way the yellow brigade batted, it didn’t feel like they had their hearts in the game. On a slow pitch, the batsmen, barring skipper Ricky Ponting, came a cropper against the spinners; four out of the six wickets to fall were bagged by the slower bowlers.
Ponting led the way with a sublime century, and helped by a half-century from Brad Haddin and David Hussey’s cameo down the order, Australia eventually finished on 260.
Despite fifties from Sachin Tendulkar and Gautam Gambhir, the Indian batting faltered. Dhoni’s early dismissal only exacerbated the situation further.
However, Yuvraj Singh played a blinder to resurrect the innings, and Suresh Raina managed to pull out a couple of cracking shots to get the chase back on track; the latter hit the winning runs with a fierce drive through the covers. Australian fielders were shocked, and so was Brett Lee – it was in his over that both southpaws turned the game on its head. India progressed to the semi-finals and eventually took the trophy home.