Yuzvendra Chahal, Ajit Agarkar, Australia, MCG, ODIs and a Tale of Two Great ‘6 for 42s’
January 5, 1971, witnessed the first ever ODI. The venue was MCG, the same iconic venue where India bagged the historic win on Friday (January 18th). In the 48 years of ODI history, Australia has hosted 622 ODIs, but only four bowlers have gone on to claim a six-for in an innings. Ajit Agarkar’s six for 42 at the MCG stood as the record for the best ODI bowling figures in Australia for 15 years till his fellow countryman Yuzvendra Chahal equalised it. In fact, Chahal is the only spinner to bag a six-for in Australia.
Best bowling figures in ODIs in Australia –
|Yuzvendra Chahal (Ind)||vs Aus, MCG – Jan 2019||10-0-42-6||Ind won|
|Ajit Agarkar (Ind)||vs Aus, MCG – Jan 2004||9.3-1-42-6||Aus won|
|Mitchell Starc (Aus)||vs Ind, MCG – Jan 2015||10-2-43-6||Aus won|
|Chris Woakes (Eng)||vs Aus, Brisbane – Jan 2011||10-0-45-6||Aus won|
|Greg Chappell (Aus)||vs Ind, SCG – Jan 1981||9.5-5-15-5||Aus won|
|Ravi Shastri (Ind)||vs Aus, Perth – Dec 1980||6.5-1-15-5||Ind won|
Trivia: The list features five India-Australia contests, and the top three entries have come at the MCG.
Agarkar’s 6 for 42
India tour of Australia 2003-04. Australia escaped with a draw in Sydney thanks to Steve Waugh’s resilience in his final Test. With the 1-1 result, India retained the Border-Gavaskar Trophy and looked to be equally competitive in the ODIs.
Australia elected to bat in the first match of the tri-series. In the absence of Zaheer Khan, Ajit Agarkar was leading the pace attack that featured a teenaged Irfan Pathan, who was making his debut and there was Lakshmipathy Balaji.
Agarkar’s six-for in the Adelaide Test a few weeks prior had guided India to a Test win in Australia after 23 years. Sourav Ganguly counted on the Mumbai pacer in the ODIs too. In what was a routine for Australia, Adam Gilchrist got the team off to a flyer before falling to Agarkar at long-leg, as Pathan took a good catch. Matthew Hayden perished ten balls later trying to cut Agarkar over point, only to find Yuvraj Singh’s safe pair of hands. A surprise short ball first up saw Damien Martyn dismissed for a golden duck.
By the 16th over, Australia was four down before Andrew Symonds, and Michael Clarke began the repair work. They stitched a 143-run stand for the fifth wicket and capitalised heavily on India’s part-time fifth bowling option. The other bowlers lacked the zing, like Australia, one of the greatest ODI units, consolidated.
Clarke fell to Anil Kumble for 63 and Ajit Agarkar dismissed Symonds off a short ball in the 44th over for 88. Another short ball saw him send back the dangerous looking Ian Harvey for 28. Australia, on the course of 300, lost wickets in clusters, as Agarkar brought up his maiden five-for in ODIs.
Taking the longer boundaries into consideration, Agarkar used short-balls as his weapon with the fielders doing the rest. Brad Williams fell to the Indian paceman in the penultimate over with Australia on 288.
Agarkar became the first bowler to bag a six-for (6 for 42) in an ODI in Australia. All his victims were out caught.
Watch Agarkar’s spell
Virender Sehwag and Sachin Tendulkar helped India to reach 100 in the 18th over. Sehwag, who applied a more conservative approach, was cleaned up by Harvey for a scratchy 35. The onus was on skipper Ganguly and Tendulkar, the two best batters in the side.
Ganguly was at his fluent best, timing the ball to perfection and toying with Ricky Ponting’s field placements. Just when Ganguly looked set for his 23rd ODI hundred and India a rare win over the strong hosts, the same old Indian story of panic followed. India were 257 for four, needing another 32 off 26 balls when Yuvraj gave it away. Worse, the next delivery, the new batsman, Sanjay Bangar didn’t respond to his skipper’s call resulting in Ganguly’s run out. Bangar had the option to sacrifice his wicket to protect Ganguly, but the all-rounder didn’t.
Watch Ganguly’s knock
India was bowled out for 270 in 49 overs. Despite bagging the best ODI figures on the Australian soil, Agarkar finished in the losing side.
Brief Scores –
Australia 288 all out in 48.3 overs [Adam Gilchrist 34 (34), Andrew Symonds 88 (102), Michael Clarke 63 (66); Ajit Agarkar 9.3-1-42-6] beat India 270 all out in 49 overs [Virender Sehwag 35 (59), Sachin Tendulkar 63 (69), Sourav Ganguly 82 (83); Ian Harvey 10-1-52-3, Andrew Symonds 10-0-47-2] by 18 runs.
Man of the Match: Andrew Symonds
Chahal’s 6 for 42
It isn’t easy being Chahal. He would stroll into any limited-overs XI in the world, as the preferred spin bowler but India. Kuldeep Yadav’s brilliance has made Chahal look more like a support bowler in recent times. True, that both the bowlers feed off from one another, but with Ravindra Jadeja’s comeback and Hardik Pandya’s injury, India began prioritising on an all-rounder. Thus, Chahal spent more time on the bench.
Kuldeep got rested for the final ODI of the series, and Chahal got an opportunity to play in the Indian colours after over two months, marking his first appearance in Australia. The hosts were reduced to 27 for two after nine overs.
Shaun Marsh and Usman Khawaja began the repair job. Skipper Kohli held back the leg-spinner in the presence of the two in-form left-handers. Chahal was finally introduced into the attack in the 24th over, and by then part-time off-spinner, Kedar Jadhav had bowled six overs.
Chahal struck with his first ball. Marsh charged down the track and missed a wide down the leg, and MS Dhoni did the rest. The 73-run stand had ended. Khawaja fell three balls later off a leading edge that ballooned to the bowler. Left-handers or right, Chahal was hungry for wickets. He continued to trouble the Australians with the turn, and Marcus Stoinis became his third victim, nicking a sharp leg-spin to the slip.
In his later spells, the leg-spinner got Jhye Richardson who was playing against the turn and then the prized scalp of the well-set Peter Handscomb. Chahal beat the Victorian with a skidder that caught him plumb. With that, he completed his second five-for in ODIs.
In his final over, the 48th of the innings, Chahal invited fellow leggie for a lofted hit by tossing it up. Zampa couldn’t clear long-on. Chahal became the first spinner in ODIs to claim a six-for in Australia.
Trivia: The great Shane Warne has played 55 ODIs in Australia.
Australia set a target of 231, a meagre score considering the modern ODI trend. Despite the second-string bowling attack, Australians made a match out of it. They not only dried up the runs but also removed the openers, Rohit Sharma and Shikhar Dhawan by the 18th over. Chase-masters, Kohli and Dhoni were both dropped, and the duo made the most of it by stitching a 54-run stand.
For the third time in series, Kohli got dismissed by the young pacer, Jhye Richardson. Unlike Ganguly from 2004, Dhoni had the support of his other batsmen and also rode on the luck of dropped catches to see India home in the final over. Dhoni and Jadhav’s unbeaten 121-run stand for the fourth wicket sealed the match and the series in Australia. Dhoni reassured the harsh critics on why he’s still a force.
Unlike Agarkar’s stupendous feat, Chahal’s got rewarded with the Man of the Match award, as India clinched their first ever bilateral series win in Australia. The diminutive leggie had played a sizeable role in India’s greatest tour to Australia.
The tides have changed. That was 2004, an era where Ponting’s Australians could do no wrong. It is Kohli’s India of 2019, the most consistent unit across formats.
Brief Scores –
Australia 230 all out in 48.4 overs [Usman Khawaja 34 (51), Shaun Marsh 39 (54), Peter Handscomb 58 (63); Bhuvneshwar Kumar 8-1-28-2, Mohammed Shami 9.4-0-47-2, Yuzvendra Chahal 10-0-42-6] lost to India 234 for 3 in 49.2 overs [Virat Kohli 46 (62), MS Dhoni 87 (114)*, Kedar Jadhav 61 (57)*] by seven wickets.
Man of the Match: Yuzvendra Chahal
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