As India and Australia get set to clash in a five-match ODI series this month, we look back at some of the best knocks played by Indian batsmen against the team from ‘Down Under’ in the 50-over format.
Yuvraj Singh – 57* (Ahmedabad, 2011)
An under-fire Ricky Ponting produced a fantastic innings after electing to bat first in the quarter-final of the 2011 World Cup. His century, along with a swift half-century by Brad Haddin at the top set the hosts a stiff target of 261 under the lights. India needed a collective effort from the batting order, the absence of which had led to a tied game against England and a loss against South Africa in the group stage. Sachin Tendulkar got India off to a much needed quick start at the top, with the master batsman adding 44 runs with his opening partner Virender Sehwag and stitching together a 50-run partnership with Gautam Gambhir for the second wicket.
The momentum swayed towards Australia post the half-way mark in the run-chase, with Virat Kohli, Gambhir and MS Dhoni getting dismissed for just 44 runs. Yuvraj Singh stood firm at one end as he was joined by #7 Suresh Raina. With the game on a knife-edge, the southpaws guided India through a volatile stage, keeping the scoreboard ticking with the odd boundary and efficient running. The conviction in Yuvraj’s batting grew as the target edged closer, with Suresh Raina taking the responsibility of being the aggressor. With an emphatic cover-drive, Yuvraj hit the winning runs to seal India a spot in the semi-finals, ousting the World Champions by five wickets.
Few months post the World Cup final, news broke out that Yuvraj was diagnosed with cancer, and was possibly was playing with the condition through the tournament, making his man of the tournament performance in the 2011 World Cup, truly incredible.
Virat Kohli – 100* (Jaipur, 2013)
Virat Kohli’s century at the Sawai Mansingh Stadium in 2013 was borderline ridiculous. Within his 52-ball stay at the crease, he had bullied the Australian attack and made a mockery of the 360-run target. His bat and mouth were at its abusive best. A boundary was followed by a curse, sometimes even directed at the bowler. At one stage during his unbeaten stand with Rohit Sharma, he mockingly applauded the opener for defending against Glenn Maxwell! A mix of his old brashness and the confidence of being one of the best run-chasers, turned this game into a spectacle. He had a fantastic partner at the other end, who scored an excellent 141 but Kohli was the star attraction on that explosive night, striking at 192 and finishing as India’s fastest centurion in the 50-over game. The hosts chased down 360 in under 44 overs, making it the highest run-chase by an Indian side and the second highest overall (currently third).
Sachin Tendulkar – 175 (Hyderabad, 2009)
Sachin Tendulkar was 36 years old during this knock, but he resembled the 24-year-old possessed youngster from Sharjah, determined to hunt down Australia’s daunting score of 350.
Ricky Ponting and his men were counting on chipping wickets at one end, as the veteran batsman seemed invincible on the night. He drove the ball with authority to the seamers and anything flighted by the spinner was lofted down the ground. While Tendulkar kept the scoreboard ticking, the bowlers kept making inroads at the opposite end. Suresh Raina’s arrival gave Tendulkar the support which allowed him to play freely, producing the best spell of his knock.
The duo added 137 for the fifth wicket, taking India close to 300. The southpaw’s dismissal in the 43rd over was the turning point of the game, as the hosts lost the next five wickets for just 48 runs. A couple of run-outs and poor shots ended India’s bid for a record run-chase, with Australia edging the game by just three runs. Tendulkar was dismissed with only 19 runs remaining, trying to lap Clint McKay over fine-leg. His mammoth 141-ball effort included 19 boundaries and four sixes, nearly pulling off a record run-chase.
The eventual feeling at the Rajiv Gandhi International Stadium was of dejection, but for 210 minutes, Tendulkar gave the crowd what they came for – a handcrafted special from his blade.
Rohit Sharma – 209 (Bangalore, 2013)
Rohit Sharma’s innings of 141 was overshadowed by Virat Kohli’s showing in Jaipur. But the ‘hitman’ stole the headlines in the final ODI of the seven-match series in Bengaluru.
Given the conditions at the Chinnaswamy Stadium, nobody would have given second thoughts about fielding first, neither did George Bailey. Shikhar Dhawan dominated the opening partnership, scoring 60 off 57 balls with nine boundaries. Australia pegged back the scoring rate post the wicket of Dhawan, which was soon followed by Virat Kohli’s run-out. Suresh Raina and Yuvraj Singh’s stay was also a short one, while at the other end Rohit Sharma continued to motor on. The arrival of MS Dhoni allowed the Mumbai Indians captain to play at a higher intensity, unleashing a flurry of strokes on the Australian bowling after crossing the century-mark. By the time Rohit’s carnage was halted by Clint Mckay, the opener had smashed 209 runs off 158 balls, with 12 boundaries and an incredible 16 sixes (most in an ODI innings)! He became the third batsman to hit a double century in ODIs, followed by Sachin Tendulkar (200) and Virender Sehwag (219).
India suffered a scare while defending the 384-run target, courtesy James Faulkner’s 57-ball hundred and Shane Watson’s cameo but the home side held on, winning the game by 57 runs and the series 3-2.
Sachin Tendulkar – 143 (Sharjah, 1998)
An innings that has been bookmarked in India vs Australia cricketing history.
Initially India needed to chase down 285 runs, more importantly needed to reach 254 to pip New Zealand in the net run-rate and qualify for the final two days later. After a quiet start, Tendulkar pulled two consecutive short deliveries for a six, setting the tone for the innings. Nayan Mongia ably played the supporting role at the other end as the 24-year-old continued to milk runs at a steady rate. Australia jolted India’s march towards the target, picking three wickets in the span of seven overs.
The occurrence of a sandstorm resulted in play being suspended, and an abandonment would have resulted in India getting knocked out of the tournament. The weather cleared up after a while, but the allotted number of overs were reduced to 46, with 237 runs required to qualify. With the revised target in mind, Tendulkar carefully crafted the innings in a way India were assured qualification. After reaching the three-figure mark, he became more aggressive and went after the bowling, smashing sixes at will. India reached the 237-run mark in the 43rd over, cementing a place in the final. Attempting to pull the ball towards square-leg, he gloved the ball to the keeper and was dismissed for 143 – his highest ODI score at the time. India eventually fell short by 26 runs.
The next highest score in the innings was 35, which demonstrates the single-handed effort Tendulkar produced on the night and guided India to the final of the tri-series. Two days later, he followed it up with another special.