As India and Australia prepare for the upcoming One-Day International (ODI) series, Nishad Pai Vaidya looks back at some of the hosts’ most defining moments in contests between the two sides. These moments prominently feature Sachin Tendulkar and Yuvraj Singh.
Yuvraj Singh celebrates conquering Australia in the 2011 World Cup quarter-final
There are a few pictures that define careers! But, the sight of Yuvraj Singh exulting in victory on his knees not only sums up his own eventful journey but also India’s 2011 World Cup victory. Facing Australia, the winners of the previous three editions, in the quarter-final at Ahmedabad, the pressure was intense as India chased 261. Though Sachin Tendulkar got India to a good start and Gautam Gambhir held firm, India needed Yuvraj’s finishing abilities. In the company of Suresh Raina, he battled the pace battery featuring Brett Lee, Shaun Tait and Mitchell Johnson. When he smashed the winning runs through the covers to take India into the semis to face arch-rivals Pakistan, Yuvraj slumped to his knees with a sense of authority of a conqueror. It was a picture to savour!
Sachin Tendulkar’s sandstorm in Sharjah
Sachin Tendulkar often dished out his best against Australia but on April 22, 1998, the world stood still to watch a dazzling display. India were up against a huge target (285) to make it to the final of the tri-series and needed to reach a certain score to assure themselves of qualification. However, Tendulkar had only victory on his mind and resumed a calculated assault on the Australian bowlers. This was in the midst of his famous duel with Shane Warne, which lasted throughout the year. To add to the drama, a sandstorm stopped proceedings and when the game resumed, Tendulkar started from where he left. He ensured India’s qualification with his aggressive display but couldn’t secure victory. That didn’t matter as on the day of the final, which was also his 25th birthday, he essayed a match-winning century to secure victory.
India win the Commomwealth Bank Tri-series 2008
On an ill-tempered tour which featured the infamous Monkeygate scandal, unsavoury events and bad blood threatened to mar events on the field. India managed to steer through the storm soon after the Sydney Test by recording a historic win at Perth. In the One-Day International (ODI) tri-series that followed (with Sri Lanka being the third team), India had a tough campaign before making it to the final. But there was a sense of history. MS Dhoni led a team of young men sans Rahul Dravid and Sourav Ganguly. Tendulkar, the senior statesman, was coming back into form and saved his best for the final. His 117 not out helped India chase 240 comfortably in the first final at Sydney and 91 at Brisbane setup victory in the second. The Indian bowling too played it’s part featuring youngsters such as Praveen Kumar, Ishant Sharma and S Sreesanth. Though Australia got close to the total in Brisbane, India held their nerve and created history. Considering all those unwanted events, this win was very sweet for India.
India chase down two 350-plus totals in 2013
For Indian fans, Australia getting over 350 had an ominous ring to it circa 2003 World Cup final. Although South Africa had overhauled Australia’s 434 back in 2006, 350 was still seen as a daunting task in the early 2010s. However, cricket was stepping into a new era with the advent of T20 cricket, which rubbed off on the longer format. When Australia setup a target of 360 for India at Jaipur, they weren’t daunted. Rohit Sharma’s century helped India get on track and Shikhar Dhawan gave the impetus. Virat Kohli, who personifies this era for India, walked into bludgeon the fastest ODI ton for his country off only 52 balls. To say that wasn’t a flash in the pan, they then overhauled 351 at Nagpur later in the series, with messers Rohit, Dhawan and Kohli again coming to the party.
Yuvraj Singh and Zaheer Khan announce their arrival against Steve Waugh’s world champions – Nairobi, 2000
In the wake of the match-fixing scandal, India was a team looking to rebuild under the leadership of Sourav Ganguly. The presence of senior stalwarts such as Tendulkar, Rahul Dravid, Anil Kumble and Javagal Srinath added stability as they searched for youngsters to fill the void. As they left for the ICC Knockout at Nairobi in 2000, the team featured a few new faces – most notably Yuvraj and Zaheer Khan. The duo made its debut against Kenya in the first game and were then up against Australia in the quarter-final. Yuvraj stroked a magnificent 84 to provide a glimpse of his talent and took India 265. Zaheer then produced a spell of pace that dented the Aussies. A searing yorker got the better of Steve Waugh – the highlight of India’s bowling. The new India had arrived!