The global Coronavirus pandemic has resulted in all means of entertainment, including cinema and sports, being stalled till further notice. The India v/s South Africa and Australia v/s New Zealand ODI series were immediately suspended, and live cricket seems unlikely at least for the next couple of weeks. This period of necessary social isolation is a great opportunity to rewatch classic videos and highlight packages of your favourite cricketing moments in history. Here’s a list of five memorable games that will take you on a nostalgia trip.
India v/s Australia, Sharjah, 1998
The famous ‘desert storm’ ODI. India were competing with Australia and New Zealand in a tri-series held in Sharjah, UAE. In the penultimate game of the tournament, Australia put on an imposing 284, thanks to a century by Michael Bevan. In reply, Sachin Tendulkar batted like a man possessed to make 143 from 131 balls. Tendulkar’s incredible strokeplay (including an enormous straight-batted six off Michael Kasprovicz), complemented by the late Tony Greig going ballistic in the commentary box, is etched in memory. India went on to lose the match by 26 runs, but Tendulkar’s herculean effort was enough to see them through to the final. Two days later, on his birthday, he smashed another blistering hundred to beat the Aussies in the final.
West Indies v/s Australia, Barbados, 1999
An underdog side dug deep to defy the best team in the world. The West Indies had just suffered a 5-0 drubbing at the hands of South Africa, but came back to claim a hard-fought 2-2 draw against the mighty Australians. The highlight of the series was the third test at Barbados. The Windies needed 309 to win when skipper Brian Lara, arguably the most exciting batsman of his generation, single-handedly engineered one of the most tense chases in history. His unbeaten 153 against a formidable bowling attack is considered one of the greatest fourth innings knocks of all time. The innings was full of nail-biting moments. Shane Warne and Ian Healy dropped Lara in the dying stages. Number eleven Courtney Walsh survived a nerve-wrecking over by McGrath (with some rather comical leaves), enabling Lara to clinch the winning runs with a sparkling cover drive.
India v/s Australia, Eden Gardens Kolkata, 2001
The test match that changed Indian cricket forever. It is impossible for an Indian fan not to feel an enormous sense of pride at the mention of this extraordinary game. Steve Waugh’s Australian side had come to India on the back of 16 consecutive test wins. They had registered a series win in every other test-playing nation, and called India their “final frontier”. The mighty Aussies handed India a mauling in the first test at Mumbai. Things seemed to be going in a similar direction in the second test at Kolkata. India had been asked to follow on and another humiliating defeat was on the cards, before VVS Laxman and Rahul Dravid came together to pull off the impossible. In the searing heat of March, the duo batted for an entire day, defying a bowling attack comprising Glenn McGrath, Jason Gillespie and Shane Warne. In the final innings, a 19-year-old Harbhajan Singh ripped through the Australian batting, as India snatched victory from the jaws of defeat. India would go on to win the third test at Chennai and claim a historic series win. This series instilled tremendous self-belief into Sourav Ganguly’s side, and laid the foundation for the golden era of Indian cricket.
India v/s England, Lord’s, 2002
Think about this game, and the iconic image of Sourav Ganguly swinging his shirt on the Lord’s balcony springs to mind. The match, however, gave us a lot more to remember besides Ganguly’s audacious celebration. India were chasing a daunting 326 in the final of the Natwest series. Mind you, this was before the T20 era and scores of 300 in ODIs were far and few. India were reeling at 146 for 5, when 21-year-old Mohammad Kaif joined 20-year-old Yuvraj Singh in the middle. The two youngsters defied all odds and scripted one of India’s most memorable victories. Chasing wasn’t considered to be the Indian team’s strongest suit then, and conquering a target of 326 was beyond everyone’s expectations. Incidentally, Kaif’s parents switched off their TV set at the fall of Sachin Tendulkar’s wicket and left home to watch a movie. Little did they know that their son would go on to give India one of their finest moments in limited overs cricket.
South Africa v/s Australia, Johannesburg, 2006
This is arguably the greatest ODI match of all time. The bilateral series between the two strongest teams in the world was tied 2-2. The fifth ODI at Johannesburg tested the limits of what can be achieved on a cricket field. Australia piled up an unimaginable 434 in the first innings. The match seemed all but over already, but South Africa had different plans. Herschelle Gibbs and Graeme Smith wasted no time and battered the Aussie bowlers. Their partnership of 187 came at a rate of 9 runs an over. Gibbs finished with 175 and Smith with 90. Mark Boucher‘s gritty knock towards the end dragged the team across the line in the last over, with just one wicket to spare. This was the first time that the 400 barrier was breached in ODIs, and it was chased down too! The two teams had elevated ODI cricket into the stratosphere.
Image: VVS Laxman’s official Facebook page
For more on cricket, see here.