India vs Australia at Chennai: A venue that brings the best out of both teams

There is a celebratory buzz in Chennai as it welcomes One-Day International (ODI) cricket after nearly two years. And the fact that it is India taking on Australia only adds to the buzz as the city has witnessed some memorable contests between the two sides over years. Australia have played 14 internationals in the city of Chennai — 11 of which have been at the MA Chidambaram Stadium, Chepauk. The three other contests (all Test matches) were played at the Nehru Stadium (known as Corporation Stadium then) in 1956, 1960 and 1964.

The most interesting detail is that Sunday’s ODI will only be the second 50-over game between the two teams at the Chidambaram Stadium. The only ODI played between the two sides at Chepauk was the 1987 World Cup game that saw Australia win a dramatic contest by one run. Australia have subsequently featured in three other ODIs at the venue against Zimbabwe, West Indies and New Zealand (1996 World Cup quarter-final).

Let’s keep that aside for now and focus on India-Australia at Chennai, a rivalry that’s produced some cricket to savour. Let us revisit five of the most memorable games between the two at Chennai:


Tied Test – 1986

A game that is a part of folklore and one that is cherished by many. Under the sweltering heat at Chepauk, Dean Jones battled the conditions and his health for a brave double-hundred and guide Australia to 574. Kapil Dev’s combative century then helped India reduce the deficit but Australia held strong with a big lead. Australia then set a target of 347 for India for the final day and Sunil Gavaskar got things going with a knock of 90. Australia kept chipping away at the wickets as India got close with Greg Matthews and Ray Bright working in tandem. India needed two to win with Ravi Shastri batting with the last man Maninder Singh. Shastri took a single to secure India only to see Maninder being ruled out leg-before.

Scores: Australia 574 for 7 declared (Dean Jones 210, David Boon 122, Allan Border 106; Shivlal Yadav 4 for 142) and 170 for 5 declared (David Boon 49; Maninder Singh 3 for 60) tied with India 397 all out (Kapil Dev 119, Ravi Shastri 62; Greg Matthews 5 for 103) and 347 all out (Sunil Gavaskar 90, Ravi Shastri 48 not out; Ray Bright 5 for 94, Greg Matthews 5 for 146).


Australia win by one run – 1987 World Cup

In a contest between Border’s troops and the tournament favourites, Geoff Marsh’s century helped take Australia to a formidable 270. The score was 268 but one of the boundaries was later corrected to be a six, which took it to 270. On debut, Navjot Singh Sidhu slammed five sixes en route to his 73 to shed the tag of ‘Strokeless Wonder.’ However, Australia kept pegging India back with wickets. Some tight bowling and fielding effected two run-outs and with the last pair in the middle, India needed six runs off the last over. Maninder managed to take India within two runs of victory before going for the big heave of Steve Waugh and having his off-stump shattered.

Scores: Australia 270 for 6 in 50 overs (Geoff Marsh 110, David Boon 49; Manoj Prabhakar 2 for 47) beat India 269 all out in 49.5 overs (Navjot Sidhu 73; Krishnamachari Srikkanth 70; Craig McDermott 4 for 56) by 1 run.


Sachin Tendulkar dominates Shane Warne – 1998

Billed as the contest between Sachin Tendulkar and Shane Warne, the 1998 series was one to remember. Both were keen to take the first step in the opening encounter and Warne had Tendulkar’s number in the first innings as Australia managed to take the lead. However, Tendulkar turned up for the second innings like a man possessed and singled out Warne for an attack. He swept across the line, managed to cut and played with a panache of fearlessness. His unbeaten 155 demoralised Australia and set the tone for the season. Chasing 348, Australia crumbled to 168.

Scores: India 257 all out (Navjot Sidhu 62, Shane Warne 4 for 85, Gavin Robertson 4 for 72) and 418 for 4 declared (Sachin Tendulkar 155 not out, Mohammad Azharuddin 64, Navjot Sidhu 64; Greg Blewett 1 for 35) beat Australia 328 all out (Ian Healy 90; Anil Kumble 4 for 103) and 168 all out (Shane Warne 35; Anil Kumble 4 for 46) by 179 runs.


India deny Australia the Final Frontier – 2001

Following the dramatic win at Kolkata, India were confident of taking on Waugh’s formidable Aussies. If the Kolkata Test was great, Chennai provided the perfect dessert. Matthew Hayden carted a double century to start things off even as Harbhajan Singh dominated with his off-spin. The Indian batting took a big lead with a century from Tendulkar. Harbhajan stepped up again with eight wickets in the second innings to leave India with a target of 155. In a see-saw run-chase, Australia managed to spark a collapse from 101 for two to 135 for seven. Sameer Dighe calmly steered India through troubled waters and although they lost their eighth wicket, Harbhajan walked into aptly hit the winning runs.

Scores: Australia 391 all out (Matthew Hayden 203; Harbhajan Singh 7 for 133) and 264 all out (Mark Waugh 57; Harbhajan Singh 8 for 84) lost to India 501 all out (Sachin Tendulkar 126; Glenn McGrath 3 for 75) and 155 for 8 (VVS Laxman 66; Colin Miller 3 for 41) by 2 wickets.


Rain plays spoilsport to a potentially engaging finale – 2004

An in-form Anil Kumble bowled Australia out for 235 in the first innings and then Virender Sehwag smashed 155 to help India to 376. In response, Australia were in trouble at 145 for four. Jason Gillespie then brought out all his grit as a night-watchman and frustrated the Indians for 165 deliveries, scoring 26. At the other end, Damien Martyn was in sublime form and notched up a century to extend the fight. Kumble took six wickets but Australia managed to set a target of 229 with little over a day to go. Unfortunately, play was washed out on the final day and both sides lost an opportunity to produce some great cricket.

Scores: Australia 235 all out (Justin Langer 71; Anil Kumble 7 for 48) and 369 all out (Damien Martyn 104; Anil Kumble 6 for 133) drew with India 376 all out (Virender Sehwag 155; Shane Warne 6 for 125) and 19 for no loss (Virender Sehwag 12 not out).


(Nishad Pai Vaidya is a Mumbai-based sports media professional. He can be followed on Facebook or on Twitter at @nishad_45)


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