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 21, 1996, and to the India v Australia Titan Cup match in Bengaluru.
It seems like India's fortune for the year was all spent at the World Cup. They began with two wins in the tournament, followed it with two losses, and then two more wins - including the peak, a quarter-final defeat of Pakistan - before the infamous combustion at Eden Gardens.
Since then, they've lost series - bilaterals, tri-nations, quadrangular - in Singapore, Sharjah, England, Sri Lanka, and Toronto. Along the way, Mohammad Azharuddin was relieved of captaincy duties. Twenty-three-year-old Sachin Tendulkar, de facto leader in some sense - if not singular batting hope - has been formally appointed to the role, to which he hasn't quite taken as easily.
The good news for India is they now return to the site of that peak. Bengaluru is among the ten cities that will host a Titan Cup match, and the home ground of no less than six of the players who were in the playing XI that lost to South Africa in last week's series opener in Hyderabad. The bowlers - Venkatesh Prasad, Anil Kumble, Javagal Srinath - were at the heart of that win against Pakistan, both with the bat and the ball. They will be itching to play a similar hand again.
It's a slender, unique advantage against Australia who have also been somewhat downhill since their loss to Sri Lanka in the World Cup final and the tri-series after. Mark Taylor continues to be in charge of a young side that will slowly be growing weary - all their cricket since February has been in the subcontinent.
At the end of this series, they'll have spent nearly a month in India, a tour that began with a gruelling train ride to and back from Patiala for a tour match. It's a test of their resilience before a home season in December that many of their players will, no doubt, be longing for.
India (last five completed ODIs, most recent first)
In the spotlight
Since his hundred on captaincy debut in August, Sachin Tendulkar has had a lean run. In his last six innings, Tendulkar hasn't gone past 25, and the effects have rippled onto his team's form as well. Against South Africa last week, he briefly showed signs of shedding any inhibitions, but it was an innings that only lasted 20 minutes. At this point, he has little to lose, both as batsman and captain - it could be the perfect method to turn it all around.
Steve Waugh's experience and grit were on show when Australia lost the solitary Test match earlier this month. In the face of several challenges - the weather, the turning tracks, the length of the tour - he has had to keep the middle order steady as a new generation of batsmen look to cement their places in unfavourable conditions. While Mark Taylor and brother Mark Waugh bring the experience and foundation at the top of the order, how Steve handles the spinners will have a big impact on this game.
Opener Sujith Somasunder didn't have a great debut against South Africa, but will likely be persisted with at his home ground. Youngsters Rahul Dravid and Sourav Ganguly had decent outings in the opening game and that should mean India will be unchanged with an all-Karnataka bowling attack.
India (probable XI): 1 Sachin Tendulkar (capt.), 2 Sujith Somasunder, 3 Rahul Dravid, 4 Mohammad Azharuddin, 5 Sourav Ganguly, 6 Ajay Jadeja, 7 Nayan Mongia (wk), 8 Javagal Srinath, 9 Anil Kumble, 10 Sunil Joshi, 11 Venkatesh Prasad
There are murmurs of an in-flight tiff between Ricky Ponting and Paul Reiffel as Australia flew in from Indore. Should that affect how Australia line up, it could be another return for Michael Slater, who hadn't made the cut for the World Cup earlier. Jason Gillespie will likely keep his place, and left-arm wristspinner Brad Hogg will be the specialist spinner following Shane Warne's injury.
Australia (probable XI): 1 Mark Waugh, 2 Mark Taylor (capt.), 3 Ricky Ponting/Michael Slater, 4 Steve Waugh, 5 Stuart Law, 6 Michael Bevan, 7 Ian Healy (wk), 8 Brad Hogg, 9 Paul Reiffel/Damien Fleming, 10 Jason Gillespie, 11 Glenn McGrath
Pitch and conditions
The pitch at Chinnaswamy Stadium hasn't had senior-level cricket on it for a few months now. While games earlier in the year showed a decent surface for batting, regardless of format, it's hard to predict what is in store on Monday. Temperatures are likely to hover in the high twenties.
Stats and trivia
India haven't beaten the other two teams in the series this calendar year
Australia haven't had an ODI centurion since the end of the World Cup
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