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Lee vs Balaji, Dhoni vs McKay, and a World Cup humdinger

Five great ODIs from India's past tours of Australia

Himanshu Agrawal
India celebrate their CB series victory in 2008, Australia v India, CB Series, 2nd final, Brisbane, March 4, 2008

India celebrate their CB series victory in 2008  •  Getty Images

Australia vs India might just be the hottest bilateral face-off going around in present-day cricket, and there have been some memorable contests, across formats, between the two sides over the years. Here, we revisit five of the finest ODI exchanges to have taken place in Australia.
India won by 19 runs
India came into this game having lost each of their last 11 ODIs against Australia in Australia, a sequence stretching all the way back to December 1991. But the big names in their batting line-up combined to give them a great chance of ending that streak. Sachin Tendulkar struggled with an ankle injury that he picked up early in his innings, but it didn't affect his fluency during a 110-run partnership with VVS Laxman for the second wicket. Tendulkar's dismissal brought in Rahul Dravid, who raced to a half-century off 49 balls despite only hitting one four in that time. He eventually contributed 74 to a stand of 133 with Laxman, who provided the finishing touches and ended on 103 not out, setting Australia a target of 304.
Adam Gilchrist and Matthew Hayden began the reply in typical fashion, Australia racing to 46 within the sixth over before Gilchrist fell to Irfan Pathan. L Balaji then dismissed Ricky Ponting and Damien Martyn cheaply, leaving Australia 94 for 3. Hayden calmed them down in partnership with Andrew Symonds and then Michael Clarke, and they were in the ascendancy when Hayden reached his hundred in the 31st over. They needed exactly 100 off 100 when Pathan dismissed Hayden, and wickets began falling regularly even as Michael Bevan scampered along at one end. For once, he would end up unbeaten in a losing chase, with Balaji picking up his third and fourth wickets in the 49th over to put the equation too far beyond Australia's reach.
Australia won by 2 wickets
Four days after that win at the Gabba, India nearly shocked Australia again. They had an under-strength top order with both Virender Sehwag and Tendulkar out injured, but another unbeaten hundred from Laxman, and a brilliant 122-ball 139 from Yuvraj Singh, carried them to 296 for 4, with the pair putting on 213 for the fourth wicket.
Gilchrist's hitting made the target look inadequate, and Australia were 73 for 1 after just 9.2 overs when rain began lashing down. When play resumed, Australia had a revised target of 225 in 34 overs. Gilchrist and Ponting extended their second-wicket stand to 126 and brought the equation down to 75 in 78 balls, when Irfan Pathan turned the match by nabbing Ponting and Martyn off successive deliveries. Gilchrist perished to Murali Kartik in the next over, and then Sourav Ganguly joined the party by dismissing Andrew Symonds, Michael Bevan and Michael Clarke, and running out Ian Harvey.
Clarke's dismissal left Australia eight down and needing 15 from 12 balls. It eventually came down to 7 off 3, when Brett Lee cracked Balaji for a big six over wide long-off to shut the door on India.
India won by 9 runs
The journey that would culminate when MS Dhoni lifted the World Cup in 2011 began three years earlier, when he captained a new-look side to a tri-series title in Australia. It was all done without Ganguly and Dravid - who had been dropped - and also the injured Sehwag and Zaheer Khan.
India had never beaten Australia in back-to-back ODIs in Australia before this, so when they won the first final in Sydney, history was against them sealing the deal in Brisbane.
India chose to bat, and made a sedate start with Tendulkar and Robin Uthappa putting on 94 in 20.5 overs. A run-a-ball 38 from Yuvraj brought urgency through the middle overs, and after Tendulkar fell for 91, Dhoni held the lower order together and hauled India to 258 for 9.
Given the strength of Australia's top order, India would need early wickets to make a match of it, and that's exactly what Praveen Kumar gave them. Swinging the ball masterfully, he sent back Gilchrist and Ponting in his first two overs, and when he bowled Clarke in his fifth over, Australia were 32 for 3. The game kept seesawing thereafter. Hayden and Symonds put on 89, then both fell in the space of three balls. Then Michael Hussey and James Hopes came together to add 76, before Sreesanth had the former caught behind.
That left Australia needing 60 in eight overs, with four wickets in hand. Hopes kept them in it even as wickets kept falling at the other end, and the final over began with Australia needing 13 with two wickets in hand. They couldn't get Pathan away, though, and he took the last two wickets to seal a nine-run win, leaving Hopes, last out for a valiant 63, disconsolate.
India won by 4 wickets
Following a 4-0 embarrassment in the Tests and a drawn T20I series, India also lost the opening match of the ODI tri-series that followed. They beat Sri Lanka in their next game, before heading to Adelaide Oval for another meeting with the uncompromising Australians.
India sent Ponting - who opened the batting, unusually - back early, but a 38 from Clarke set Australia a decent platform which the debutant Peter Forrest and David Hussey capitalised on with half-centuries. A quickfire 39 from Daniel Christian applied the finish, and India were set 270 to win.
The chase took off in a hurry with Sehwag and Gautam Gambhir putting on 52 in 9.1 overs. Sehwag, Virat Kohli and Rohit Sharma couldn't build on decent starts, and when Gambhir fell for a gritty 92 in the 35th over, the match hung in the balance, with India four down and needing 92 off 97 balls.
The required rate climbed as Dhoni struggled to get going, crawling to 13 off 31 balls. Suresh Raina's hits kept the equation from becoming too unmanageable, and when he fell for 38 in the 47th over, India needed 31 off 23.
It came down to 12 off 4, with Dhoni, batting on 33 off 55 with no boundaries against his name, on strike. Cue one of the most famous hits of Dhoni's career, launching Clint McKay's slot ball outside off stump for a 112m six over long-on. The rattled McKay was no-balled for high full-toss next ball, evidence that yet another bowler had blinked first in a high-stakes last-over contest with MS Dhoni.
Australia won by 1 run
Both teams had made jittery starts to the tournament and in a near-must-win match, Australia limped to 31 for 2 in the 11th over, before Dean Jones and David Boon set about rebuilding their innings. They added 71 for the third wicket, with a helmetless Jones showing early intent with a full-blooded six over long-on off Javagal Srinath. Jones enjoyed productive stands with Steve Waugh and Tom Moody as well, before falling 10 short of a hundred in the 48th over.
A late collapse from Australia - they lost 4 for 7 in the last three overs - left India needing 238. They lost Kris Srikkanth to a peach from Craig McDermott before rain reduced their target to 236 in 47 overs. Ravi Shastri's struggle to 25 off 67 balls threatened to suck the momentum out of India's innings, but they got right back in the game courtesy a fine 93 from Mohammad Azharuddin and quickfire cameos from Kapil Dev and Sanjay Manjrekar.
Australia were on top when they ran out Azharuddin and Manjrekar in quick succession, leaving India needing 20 off 12 balls with three wickets in hand. Kiran More and Srinath whittled it down to 13 off 6, and More flicked the first two balls of Moody's final over to the square-leg boundary to bring it down to 5 off 4. A repeat attempt found More's middle stump broken, however, and the run-out of Manoj Prabhakar brought it down to 4 off the last ball, with Srinath on strike. He swung Moody high towards long-on, where Waugh, sprinting to his right, put down the catch. With the batsmen attempting a desperate third run to tie the game, Waugh threw to the keeper's end and found Venkatapathy Raju short of his ground to seal the tightest of Australian wins.

Himanshu Agrawal is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo