In our #retrolive series, we rewind to classic matches to bring you the ball-by-ball commentary and match coverage as if the games were happening live, for the first time. This time, we turn the clock back to October 7, 2000, and the Australia v India Champions Trophy quarter-final in Nairobi.
It has been a tumultuous year for Indian cricket, with the match-fixing scandal boiling over in full public view. Bans, investigations into the player-bookie nexus, sting operations, TV interviews, courtroom drama and much else has gripped the nation. For many, the players are demi-gods no more and it will need something special from a young group, led by new captain Sourav Ganguly, to restore faith.
Ganguly is into his fifth year as an international cricketer (ignoring for a moment his solitary ODI in 1992) and a county stint in the summer with Lancashire, even if the runs didn't quite flow, could give him new perspective into his own game. He has the experience of Sachin Tendulkar, his predecessor, and Anil Kumble to fall back on, while Rahul Dravid has been around as long as Ganguly has.
The start to Ganguly's captaincy has been challenging. India failed to make the tri-series final in Sharjah and managed to beat just Bangladesh in a forgettable Asia Cup campaign in Dhaka in June. This has necessitated the infusion of youth, with as many as three players - Vijay Dahiya, Yuvraj Singh and Zaheer Khan - debuting in the tournament opener against Kenya.
They will face a stiff challenge against Australia, the reigning world champions. From November to early February, Australia have beaten India seven times across formats. The Steve Waugh-led side is in the midst of a golden run, having racked up 10 consecutive Test wins. Their one-day record is just as good, with only six losses in their 29 ODIs since lifting the World Cup last year. The core of this squad could still make it to their title defence in South Africa in 2003, an intimidating thought indeed.
So, it's one side hoping to start afresh against another looking to extend their dominance.
India WLLWL (last five completed ODIs, most recent first)
In the spotlight
Only two pacers picked up 30-plus wickets in the 1999-00 Ranji Trophy season. One of them was left-arm fast bowler Zaheer Khan, who will turn 20 tomorrow. He finished the season with 35 wickets in eight games for Baroda. His ability to bring the ball back in to the right-handers at over 140kph married with immaculate control makes him a terrific prospect. A mean bouncer and his ability to nail yorkers, like he did on debut against Kenya, lends a new dimension to the Indian attack. Can he build on his impressive domestic season and make a successful transition to international cricket?
Brett Lee is considered the nearest competitor to Pakistan's Shoaib Akhtar as far as bragging rights for being the fastest bowler in the world go. Within a year of his international debut, also against India, he has graduated to become the third wheel in a superb fast-bowling combine with Glenn McGrath and Jason Gillespie. So far, Lee has played much of his cricket on surfaces with pace and bounce. Nairobi's short boundaries and a belter of a surface should be a good test for the 21-year old.
India may have been tempted to pick Hemang Badani against Kenya, but given they went with comeback man Vinod Kambli, who made a polished unbeaten 39, it's hard to see them make a change to their XI.
India (probable XI): 1 Sachin Tendulkar, 2 Sourav Ganguly (capt), 3 Rahul Dravid, 4 Vinod Kambli, 5 Yuvraj Singh, 6 Robin Singh, 7 Vijay Dahiya (wk), 8 Ajit Agarkar, 9 Anil Kumble, 10 Zaheer Khan, 11 Venkatesh Prasad
The arrival of a burly Queenslander Andrew Symonds, who had a terrific initiation into international cricket earlier in the year, during the tri-series in Australia, is cause of much optimism. His six-hitting lower down the order and skillful seam-ups or offspin, depending on conditions, make him a handy option. And he's a great fielder even when compared to his supremely fit Australian team-mates. Could he pip Ian Harvey for a place in the XI?
Australia (probable XI): 1 Mark Waugh, 2 Adam Gilchrist (wk), 3 Ricky Ponting, 4 Damien Martyn, 5 Steve Waugh (capt), 6 Michael Bevan, 7 Andrew Symonds, 8 Shane Lee, 9 Brett Lee, 10 Jason Gillespie, 11 Glenn McGrath
Pitch and conditions
Hot and dry afternoons could give way for some rain later in the evening, which could bring the DL method into the picture. Traditionally, the surface at Nairobi Gymkhana has been batting friendly. Short boundaries could make it that much more difficult for the spinners here.
Stats and trivia
India had three debutants - Yuvraj Singh, Vijay Dahiya and Zaheer - in their previous outing against Kenya. The last time India handed as many ODI caps in a single game was back in 1989-90, when a 16-year old Tendulkar debuted alongside Vivek Razdan and Salil Ankola.
The last time both sides met in the same competition was in Dhaka in 1998, where Sachin Tendulkar scored 141 and picked up four wickets in a convincing Indian victory.
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