Over the years, India vs Australia ODI encounters produced many memorable knocks from players of both the countries. If Australia can take pride in Ricky Ponting's blistering knock in the 2003 World Cup final at Johannesburg, Team India can boast about Sachin Tendulkar's majestic century in a 1998 Sharjah classic, famously referred as 'Desert Storm' knock.
As the arch-rivals are set to battle it out once again in a five-match ODI series starting on Sunday in Chennai, we take a look at some of the freakish knocks in the ODI matches involving India and Australia.
Sachin Tendulkar's 143 (131) , 22 April, 1998
It can be said that 1998 was the year Tendulkar achieved the demigod status among his fans. And the elevation was primarily because of his two back-to-back tons against Australia in a tri-nation series involving New Zealand.
It was the sixth match of the series. Australia had already qualified to the final while India's hope relied on bettering their net run-rate in order to pip New Zealand and enter the final. Australia won the toss and elected to bat first. Thanks to a century from Michael Bevan and a 81-run knock from Mark Waugh, Australia ended up making 284/7 in 50 overs.
The task was humongous for India but once the second innings started, Tendulkar started batting like a man possessed. For people who witnessed the knock, and the ones who have seen the highlights on various channels and also on Youtube, it's impossible to forget the voice of Tony Greig. The commentator made sure he left no stone unturned when it came to describing the glorious batting of Tendulkar.
Things became worse for India as the innings progressed. The match officials reduced four overs from the chase because of a disruption due to dust storm. The equation for India was to get the revised target of 276 in 46 overs and to qualify for the final, they needed to score at least 237 runs.
India lost the match but Tendulkar played one of a kind innings and his 143 helped India cross the 237-run margin and qualify for the final. Two days later, the Mumbai batsman turned 25 on 24 April – the day of the final and celebrated with yet another hundred, and this time, India chased down Australia's target of 274 to clinch the tri-series trophy.
Ricky Ponting's 140 (121), 23 March, 2003
When Tendulkar was setting up new world records in international arena, there was one player who was tipped to break most of his records. The pundits and fans put their money on the charismatic Ricky Ponting. Under Ponting's captaincy, Australia reached the final of a World Cup for the second consecutive time. His team was facing Sourav Ganguly's India, who were searching for their second World Cup glory.
The match took place at the famous Wanderers Stadium in Johannesburg. India won the toss and decided to field first and that's probably where they missed a trick. Once off to a great start, Australia never looked back. Ponting came in after the fall of first wicket and he took no time to settle in. This was the era before the advent of T20s but Australia's innings had a certain T20 feel to it. Indian bowlers were trying their best to restrict Ponting but it was just not their day.
It was certainly Ponting's day and he did his best to crush India's hopes of winning the World Cup. He remained unbeaten on 140, smashing four fours and eight sixes as Australia put up 359/2 in 50 overs. Later, they went on to win their third World Cup after India were bowled out for 234. Ponting's mind-blowing century is still regarded as one of the best knocks in 50-over cricket.
Rohit Sharma's 209 (158), 2 November 2013
Once he made his debut for India in 2007, there were hardly any doubts about Rohit Sharma's cricketing talent. But even after playing a good number of matches for India, he was yet to prove on the subject of consistency. But the 2013 series against Australia was a big turning point and he made a huge impact by scoring 491 runs in six matches at an average of 122.
Out for those 491 runs, 209 came in one knock. It was the final ODI and the series was locked 2-2 after two unfinished matches. Just like how Ganguly made a mistake by electing to field after winning the toss in the 2003 World Cup final, George Bailey chose to field first on a small ground.
Rohit started his innings on a watchful note but with time, he started playing his shots. The likes of Clint McKay, Nathan Coulter-Nile, James Faulkner, Xavier Doherty were unable to stop the Mumbai batsman and by the time Rohit got out, he did all the damage he could. His 209 included 12 fours and as many as 16 sixes.
James Faulkner's 116 (73), 2 November 2013
Despite being considered as an all-rounder, Faulkner was more or less known for his bowling skills. The 2013 series in India changed the perception completely, In the third ODI, his 64-run knock in just 29 balls helped Australia to chase down 304.
He went one step further in the seventh ODI, when he scored a brilliant ton, but in a losing cause. Rohit's first innings score of 209 made sure that India had put up a huge 383/6 in 50 overs. In reply, Australia lost six wickets for 138. An Australian win from that kind of situation would have been nothing short of a miracle. However, Faulkner dared to dream.
In a 'nothing to lose' approach, Faulkner went berserk. It seemed as if he could pull off that miracle. However, with the all-rounder running out of partners, the pressure built up and he finally gave in in the 47th over for 116 off 73 balls as India won the match by 57 runs. However, that effort from Faulkner earned him a worthy applause.
Sachin Tendulkar's 175 (141), 5 November 2009
Tendulkar enjoyed quite a reputation against Australia. He made a total of 49 international ODI tons out which nine came against Australia, the maximum he scored against one country. His highest score against the mighty Aussies came in an ODI in 2009 at Hyderabad.
Once again, India were chasing a huge total. Batting first, Australia made 350/4 in 50 overs. Tendulkar and Virender Sehwag gave India a good start but once Sehwag was dismissed, India's chase went haywire. But Tendulkar found a partner in Suresh Raina, he took on the Aussie bowlers. Raina fell after scoring 59 but Tendulkar was still going the strong. India needed just 21 runs in the last three overs but that's when the game changed.
Tendulkar, after staying in the middle for 210 minutes, was finally dismissed for 175. Just like the days of 1990s, India couldn't finish the match and they agonisingly fell short by three runs.
"It was certainly one of my best innings, but I would have gladly traded those 175 runs for a victory,” Tendulkar said about the match years later.