Sep 11, 2017
By MI Media
Two titans in international cricket, India and Australia have long ruled at the highest of levels. With each side taking their game very seriously, resounding clashes were just a matter of time. Along the way, we have witnessed several historic moments, be it a batsman guiding their team to victory or scripting an unforgettable innings. Here are some of the most unforgettable knocks when both these sides have met on the field.
1. Sachin Tendulkar 143 (Sharjah, 1998)
Back then, few teams were as dominant as Australia. During a tri-series tournament at Sharjah, Australia had already qualified for the finals. To qualify, India needed to chase down a target of 285. But a sandstorm delayed the proceedings for half an hour. To qualify for the finals, India faced a revised target of 237. Once the storm had abated, little did the Aussies know that there was another storm coming their way.
Facing the Aussie bowlers was Tendulkar in the middle with only his bat for company. He cleared sixes convincingly and the flow of boundaries seemed unstoppable. For him, it wasn’t just about the qualification. He played to win, churning out runs like biscuits from a factory. The Little Master reduced bowlers like Damien Fleming, Michael Kasprowicz and Shane Warne to the level of mere mortals as he smashed them around the park. Australia weren’t any less dangerous that day but it was Tendulkar who scripted something special, smashing 143 runs from 131 balls, including 9 fours and 5 sixes. India might have fallen short of the target but Sachin made sure they qualified. They met Australia again in the final and once more, Tendulkar smashed a ton to guide his side home.
Tendulkar will be remembered for many things, but Sharjah will always stand out. The match might have been played in the Gulf but it felt like home territory for India. As Tony Grieg described him, “What a player, what a wonderful player!” and those words will forever reverberate in our ears. A night that has been etched in every Indian cricket fan’s memory. That night he didn’t remove his helmet when he reached his ton, not even when he helped India qualify, nor when he walked back to the dressing room to a rapturous applause. This simple action shows the level of focused he displayed that night.
2. Rohit Sharma 209 (Bengaluru, 2013)
The pressure was on in Bengaluru as India and Australia met for the series-deciding final of the 7-match ODI series. Australia won the toss and opted to field first despite the series trend that saw them posting big totals batting first and India chasing them down easily. No target looked like an uphill task for the hosts.
As usual, Rohit Sharma started off his innings on a cautious note. Dhawan got out after his fifty and Kohli soon followed after a mix-up with Rohit. The opener knew he had to post a big score and slowly began to up the ante. Rohit kept dealing in boundaries and once he crossed the three-figure mark, looked simply unstoppable. At the time of Kohli’s dismissal, Rohit was on 41 off 59 balls. He brought up his fifty off 71 balls, a pace that might be considered slow. What we witnessed after was simply astonishing.
Rohit Sharma went absolutely berserk and smashed the Aussie bowlers all around the park. Australia were unable to contain the opener as he started hitting sixes effortlessly. India lost their way a bit in the middle but it looked like Rohit was on a mission. Towards the latter stages, it was just fours and sixes. The non-striker didn’t even bother taking any singles as Rohit eventually went on to score a double ton. This made him the third player then to score a double century in ODIs. He brought up his milestone with a huge six and it simply highlights the kind of knock he played that day. His acceleration was such that he brought up his second ton off just 42 balls. He got out in the last over in a bid to finish off strongly, but not before registering his name in the record books. Australia tried their best to chase down 384 but expectedly fell short.
3. Ricky Ponting 140* (Johannesburg, 2003)
After a gap of 20 years, India made it to a World Cup final on the back of Sachin Tendulkar’s red-hot form. The Indian side were ticking off all boxes until they met Australia in the final match. As ruthless as they can be, India knew it would be a tough outing against the Kangaroos. India won the toss went by their strengths, opting to field. The defending champions got off to a promising start and laid a solid foundation. Ricky Ponting walked in at number three and India needed his wicket quickly. The Australian skipper saved his best of the tournament for the most crucial match and looked in devastating touch throughout his knock. He built his innings perfectly and accelerated in style. Damien Martyn, who walked out to the crease after Ponting, brought up his fifty ahead of his captain. Ricky was taking it slowly and India didn’t perhaps know there was any danger lying in wait ahead.
Ricky Ponting brought up his fifty off his 73rd ball but once he got there, he put his foot on the gas. Punter started dealing in boundaries and India had no suitable response. He brought up a ton off 103 balls and looked hungry for more. It was absolutely uncontrolled carnage from the Aussie skipper who simply looked ruthlessly true and pure. His drives were beautiful; his pull shots were relentless as he wreaked havoc right from the onset with the crack of his every shot music to the ears. He finished the innings off with a six and four to stay unbeaten on 140 off 121 balls with 4 fours and 8 sixes. His knock sent a strong message to India who were going to chase down a record total. Australia won the game convincingly and lifted yet another World Cup and Ricky Ponting was adjudged the Man of the Match for his spectacular innings.
4. Steven Smith 105 (Sydney, 2015)
Australia are known to perform under pressure and save their best when it comes to the crucial games. India were riding high on confidence during their 2015 World Cup campaign and met the hosts Australia in the semi-final. India had knocked out Australia in the 2011 edition in the quarter-final and the scars hadn’t faded for the Kangaroos. Michael Clarke won the toss and opted to bat first. Australia lost David Warner early on and India looked to push their advantage. Steven Smith came in at number 3 and looked to take control of things. During the summer, Smith racked up the hundreds against India. Even after bowling to him in so many games, it didn’t look like India had found an answer to his strokeplay. The wicket was dry and Smith was batting as good as his wont. He paced his knock perfectly and played calculating strokes. Against Smith, a bowler finds it tough as he adjusts himself and plays the shot where you can’t expect. Be it playing a ramp shot or a slash towards third man. It was the summer of Steven Smith. The law of averages would have predicted Smith would get out early on but he looked in great touch yet again.
MS Dhoni tried all his tricks, used all his experience but it didn’t yield any success. There weren’t any aerial shots early on during Smith’s knock and it was just him finding the gaps and risk-free batting. After the 30-over mark, Smith accelerated quickly as he grew in comfort. The Australian run machine during that summer brought up yet another ton when he pulled one through fine leg for a four. He celebrated in style as he knew the importance of his knock. It was going to give Australia a berth in the final, a chance to lift the cup in their home den. Smith got out after his century but not before putting his team in the driver’s seat. It was Smith’s fourth fifty on the trot. Australia won the game and entered the finals. Steven Smith was in top form and continued with the tradition of an Australian number 3 standing tall in big matches.
5. Virat Kohli 100* (Jaipur, 2013)
India were 0-1 down in the ODI series. Australia had posted 359 on the board with the bat. A target reminiscent to one they gave India during the 2003 World Cup final. But it wasn’t 2003. It was 2013 and India had a strong batting line-up. Its players were limited-overs specialists and one of them was Virat Kohli. When it comes to chasing, you can hardly find any player who can pace his innings and guiding his team home as well as he does. India were off to a brilliant start. Rohit Sharma and Shikhar Dhawan laid a perfect foundation for Virat Kohli to do his thing. With the required run rate still high, India couldn’t afford to slow down. Looking set when he was in the dressing room itself, Virat Kohli came out all guns blazing. He started smashing the Australian bowlers right from the word go and didn’t stop a single moment. He made a mockery of the target and raced away to another ton. He stepped up the tempo so emphatically that the conclusion was foregone long before India sailed home.
If the Indian openers ensured the required run rate stayed in sight, Kohli made sure it dropped rapidly. There were muscling sixes against pacers or spinners. Not only did he smash a ton but a hit a record-breaking century. It was the fastest ODI ton by an Indian batsman when he brought up his three figures off just 52 balls. His knock included 8 fours and 7 gigantic sixes. He stayed unbeaten on 100 whereas Rohit Sharma finished off with 141* off 123 balls. Such was Kohli’s knock that Rohit’s 141 appeared to play second fiddle to it. Let alone chase down 359, India had never successfully chased a 300-plus target against Australia before. Kohli’s ton entered the record books and India leveled the series 1-1.
There were many other knocks such as Yuvraj Singh’s 139 in Perth in 2003 or Sachin Tendulkar’s 175 against the Aussies also hold a special place for us. With the ODI series coming in a few days’ time, we might as well witness further unforgettable display.