Top 5 India vs Australia bowling performances

Over the years, India versus Australia has established itself as one of cricket’s fiercest rivalries. While the Aussies have been an aggressive unit from the early days, the Indian team have competed hard against the 5-time World Champions in the recent past. Be that as it may, we are ensured entertainment! Ahead of Australia’s tour of India, we look back at few of the memorable bowling spells in limited overs contests played between the two teams.

Ajit Agarkar - 6/42 (Melbourne, 2004)

India came into the tri-series on the back of a hard-fought Test series, in which the nippy pacer played a crucial role in India’s first ever Test victory Down Under when he claimed a 6-fer in whites. He impressed again, this time in the shorter format.

Opening the bowling, he got rid of the dangerous Adam Gilchrist who threatened to take the game away from India and in the next over, dismissed Mathew Hayden and Damien Martyn off consecutive deliveries, in his first spell. The lanky Mumbaikar was not done as yet. He came back in the second spell to dismiss the well set Andrew Symonds and wrapped up the Australian innings by snapping up Ian Harvey and Brad Williams in the space of 3 balls, thus completing a well-deserved, 6-wicket haul. Interestingly, this was the first ever 6-fer for an Indian bowler against Australia.

Although India ended up losing the match, Agarkar’s heroics with the ball remain one of the highlights of the series. His ability to swing the Kookaburra both ways troubled the Australian batsmen and in fact, he picked up 36 wickets against them throughout his career, the second most by an Indian against the Australians.

Brett Lee 5/22 (Adelaide, 2000)

The Australian summer of 1999/2000 remains one of the most forgettable tours for India, ever. During the 3-0 rout in the Tests, Sachin Tendulkar’s Indian cricket team had no clue whatsoever, on how to tackle the blonde-haired, lightning-quick bowler who went by the name of Brett Lee, and the show continued in the shorter format.

The tour turned from bad to worse for India, as they failed to qualify for the final of the Carlton & United Tri-series. In the 10th match of the series, which was a dead rubber, Lee produced one of the finest bowling spells which stamped authority over the fact that this youngster had a long career ahead. He dismissed Tendulkar and debutant Hrishikesh Kanitkar off successive balls and then in his second spell, ran through the Indian tail to dismiss Javagal Srinath, Anil Kumble and Debasish Mohanty, handing another dominating victory for Australia.

In his 12-year long career, Lee ended up picking up 55 wickets against India in ODIs, the most by any Australian against them. His fiery spells and vicious pace made him a match winner and one of the bowling greats to have ever graced the modern game.

Murali Kartik 6/27 (Mumbai, 2007)

For the first time, Australia played a 7-match ODI series against India on Indian soil. Although the series was already decided in favour of the visitors, a sparkling performance from Murali Kartik ensured that India ended the series on a consolatory high.

The left-arm, orthodox spinner was called in prior to the match, on the request of the then-skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni and his inclusion turned out to be a masterstroke. He bamboozled the Australians with his viciously turning deliveries and dismantled their middle order, right after he came into the attack. Brad Hodge and Andrew Symonds were his first two victims and later in the innings, he dismissed Brad Haddin, Brad Hogg and Brett Lee – all in one over! He rattled James Hopes’ stumps to end the day on a great note as the Aussies were bundled out for a paltry 193.

Kartik’s role in the match was far from over though, as India kept losing wickets at regular intervals while chasing. The calm and composed Kartik, along with Zaheer Khan built a solid partnership for the 9th wicket, taking India over the line to help complete a famous 2-wicket win at the Wankhede. Kartik’s 6/27 remains the best bowling figures by an Indian against Australia.

Mitchell Johnson 5/26 (Vadodara, 2007)

A few matches before Kartik bamboozled the Aussies, India faced the wrath of a fuming left-arm pace bowler in Vadodara. He clocked over 150kmph regularly and took many of the Indian batsmen by surprise with the immense pace he generated.

The hosts were trailing 1-2 in the series, and it was vital for them to win this match to stay alive in the series. However, a certain Mitchell Johnson had other ideas! India were off to a disastrous start as they lost Sourav Ganguly and Rahul Dravid in the first over itself. Johnson did the rest of the damage! He dismissed Yuvraj Singh, Robin Uthappa and Mahendra Singh Dhoni in his initial burst to leave India reeling at 5/43. He then came back in his second spell to clinch the wickets of Irfan Pathan and Murali Kartik to complete his maiden 5-wicket haul in ODIs.

In sub-continental conditions where the pitch usually assists slower bowlers, Johnson’s ferocious display of pace bowling was a commendable effort indeed and his performance against India remains a special feat in his glittering international career.

Praveen Kumar 4/46 (Brisbane, 2008)

After a controversial Test series, the Indian team stayed back in Australia for the Tri-series. It was Mahendra Singh Dhoni’s first real assignment as India’s captain and India had already won the first final courtesy a Sachin Tendulkar masterclass. The Men in Blue were just one win away from creating history and they found a new star on the D-day.

In the second final, the batsmen had done their job. India had a respectable 258 on the board and the match was evenly poised at the halfway mark. Praveen Kumar then rose to the occasion and tilted the game in India’s favour by making an impact straightaway. Here’s how Australia’s fall-of-wickets looked like in a high-pressure final - 1-2, 2-8, 3-32. Adam Gilchrist, Ricky Ponting and Michael Clarke were back in the hut. Kumar’s mesmerizing swing bowling had turned the match around. Australia had their hopes pinned on Mathew Hayden and Andrew Symonds but their dismissals off consecutive deliveries meant India were back in the match. Kumar dismissed Brett Lee in his second spell to complete a 4-fer and eventually, India won the match by 9 runs.

Dhoni lifted the CB Series trophy and Kumar’s opening spell had played a vital role in the final. He was declared the Man of the Match and rightly so!

Apart from these performances, Ravi Shastri’s 5/15 at Perth in 1991 deserves a special mention as the Aussies failed to pick the left-arm spin of the current coach of the Indian cricket team. The five-fer was taken on a surface which was considered to be a fast-paced track and very pacey, at that time. India=Australia contests never leave fans disappointed. There is no shortage of action, with the bat and the ball. Fortunes swing from one side to the other and many players end up making a mark and securing their careers too. The upcoming ODI series promises to be equally enthralling. Earlier in the year, the two sides played out a gruelling Test series, and memories from that series might still be fresh in the players’ minds. We can expect some crackers before the festive season in India begins.


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