Last year, for the first time ever, India played a 5-match bilateral ODI series in Australia. For two nations that shared one of the fiercest cricketing rivalries, this was an unusual statistic. Australia went on to win it 4-1, and it proved to be the death knell for MS Dhoni as a limited-overs captain.
But in 2017, India vs Australia ODIs have an added dimension. For one, they are playing in India – where Australia has won four bilateral series compared to India’s three. Steve Smith’s men haven’t been in the best of form in the subcontinent, while Virat Kohli’s men have been on a tear for the last year. Many say this is one of the weakest Australian teams to have toured India. But they said that about the Test team earlier this year, and Australia responded by blitzing India in Pune before narrowly losing the terrific series 2-1 in their country.
The first ODI was played at Chennai on Sunday and India won the rain-curtailed match by 26 runs – thanks to Hardik Pandya’s fantastic all-round performance and MS Dhoni’s calm hand.
While India goes 1-0 up into the second ODI at Kolkata, we list for you some memorable India vs Australia matches over the years. The ODI history between these two competitive teams has been long and exemplary. They have faced each other at most of the big ICC tournaments with timeless performances. Not all have been close matches, but it’s the occasion that made them far more important than one-off wins.
5. 2011 World Cup Quarterfinal (Ahmedabad)
This had all the makings of a classic. Defending World Champions Australia faced hosts and favorites India in a do-or-die ODI match that could very well have been the tournament final. Australia started strongly but then limped to 260/6 in their first innings. They were derailed by Man of the Tournament Yuvraj Singh’s 10-over spell. Ricky Ponting had been in awful form leading up to this crucial match, but the champion scored a scratchy yet effective century against all odds. India started well again with Sachin Tendulkar shoring up the team with another half-century until he edged Shaun Tait behind to send the fans into panic mode. Despite the loss of Gautam Gambhir and then a young Virat Kohli, Yuvraj bolstered the team with a brave fifty. Suresh Raina, who replaced Yusuf Pathan for this match, slammed an all-important unbeaten 34 to take India across the line. It was a momentous win and a seminal point in India vs Australia ODI history.
4. 1987 World Cup (Chennai)
The tables were slightly different 30 years ago. India was defending World Champions, fresh off their Benson and Hedges 1985 World Championship win in Australia. They were also favorites to win their first World Cup as hosts. In the third match of the tournament, they faced Allan Border’s withering Australian team, who weren’t even underdogs to win the Cup. Australia had had a terrible few years, in transition, and they started their ascent to world power with this match in Chennai. They set India 271 after two runs were added to their total because of a controversial Dickie Bird decision. Captain Kapil Dev agreed for a Dean Jones’ boundary to be awarded a six because it landed behind Ravi Shastri at long-on. These two runs were to be the deal breaker. India was at 207/3 and cruising. Then they collapsed, with a young Steve Waugh bowling Maninder Singh for the last wicket – just ONE run short of 270. India would reach the semifinals eventually, losing to England, while Australia would go on to win their first of five ICC Cricket World Cups.
3. 2008 CB Series (Brisbane)
The unthinkable was happening. India had won the first of the best-of-3 finals at Sydney between the two teams after Sri Lanka were eliminated from the tri-series in the group stages. Sachin Tendulkar had scored a century to help them chase 240 with 5 wickets to spare. The second final at Brisbane lent India an opportunity to win their first and only tri-series Down Under – a momentous occasion under new captain MS Dhoni. India scored a decent 258, riding again on Tendulkar’s 91 before Australia recovered from 32/3 to scare the visitors and be 228/6 at one stage. But India’s bowlers, led by Praveen Kumar, S. Sreesanth, and Irfan Pathan, cleaned up the lower order as a brave James Hopes took it down to the final over. Too little too late, as India won the match by 9 runs and the third final was canceled – the first time ever Australia were blanked in a best-of-3 final at home. This was a strong Aussie outfit, and the Indians had begun their ODI reincarnation from here, leading to a 2011 World Cup victory.
2. 2009 Bilateral Series (Hyderabad)
The series was locked 2-2 as India and Australia headed into the 5th ODI match at Hyderabad – a scene that was to become one of India’s greatest cricketing heartbreaks. Australia mauled the Indian bowlers to put up 350 on back of a Shaun Marsh century. For India, 7 batsmen scored single digits. Naturally, this might seem like a one-sided match, but it wasn’t. Sachin Tendulkar played arguably his greatest ODI innings, while single-handedly dragging his team towards an improbable target. With 3 overs to go and 19 runs left to get with 4 wickets in hand, Tendulkar had blasted his way to 175 off 140 balls. He was the seventh batsman to get out at 332. Ravindra Jadeja committed suicide by getting run out a run later, and just like that, India was all out 3 runs short at 347 after another runout. Tendulkar couldn’t believe it. The country couldn’t believe it. Not even his very best was good enough. Australia went 3-2 up and eventually won the 7-match series 4-2 in India. Tendulkar had scored more than half of India’s runs in the match – 174 out of their 347 – typifying his career in a day.
1. 1998 Sharjah Desert Storm
It’s ironical that nobody cared about the actual result of the most memorable and top India vs Australia ODI match of all time. On 22nd April 1998, Sachin Tendulkar scored his 14th ODI century. Australia scored 284 and India lost the match by 26 runs while chasing a revised target of 276 by D/L. But they had needed 237 off 46 overs to qualify for the final over New Zealand on net run rate alone. A sand storm, sixes off Tom Moody and Michael Kasprowicz (both bowlers more than a foot taller than Tendulkar) and perhaps the most significant ODI innings in history later, India had chased it down through Sachin’s mammoth 143 off 131 balls. India qualified for the final but lost the game – and there was no sweeter defeat than this one. Australia had won all their 4 group games against both teams, but India defeated them in the final two days later. It was yet another Tendulkar classic (134) giving his team the Coca-Cola Cup and boasting rights for a lifetime.