Virat Kohli’s Indian cricket team produced a clinical performance against five-time champions Australia in the ICC Cricket World Cup 2019 clash at The Oval. Shikhar Dhawan’s brilliant 17th century, combined with Rohit Sharma and Virat Kohli’s fifties helped India register 352/5. This was the highest total in World Cups conceded by Australia and they could not counter India’s precision bowling as they lost the match by 36 runs. This was Australia’s fourth loss in World Cups against India in 12 games and it served as a wake-up call as to who is the favourites heading into the business end of the tournament.
The loss for Australia ended their 10-match winning streak in ODIs. After losing the first two games in the series against India before the World Cup, Australia won three games to win the series 3-2 and register a win on Indian shores for the first time in 10 years. Following that series win, they whitewashed Pakistan 5-0 in the UAE and got their ICC Cricket World Cup 2019 campaign on a high with wins over Afghanistan and the West Indies.
The fact that India ended the 10-match winning streak is poetic justice. The streak began in India and it was fitting that Kohli’s team ended it. In fact, this is not the first time that India has mastered the art of breaking the streak against Australia. When one looks at history, India has been the final frontier where Australia has stumbled in the quest to sustain a streak.
Rewind to 2001. Australia had won 15 consecutive Tests and was determined to conquer the final frontier. They registered their 16th win when they thrashed India by 10 wickets in the first Test in Mumbai. In Kolkata, Australia held the upper hand when they posted 445 and bowled India out for 171. Asked to follow-on, it seemed a 17th win was a mere formality. However, VVS Laxman and Rahul Dravid changed the course of history with a knock for the ages.
Laxman hammered 281 while Rahul Dravid hit 180 as their 376-run stand changed the entire course of the match. Australia was undone by Harbhajan Singh in the fourth innings and they lost by 171 runs as Australia’s quest to conquer India was thwarted. This would not be the first time Australia’s streak would be halted by India. Seven years later, when India toured Australia, history would be repeated.
Australia won the first Test of the 2007/08 series in Melbourne and secured their 16th consecutive Test win in Sydney when they defeated India with just under two overs remaining in the match. The Sydney Test was remembered for all the wrong reasons, with many umpiring decisions going against India. The match was also remembered for racism charges against Harbhajan on Andrew Symonds. India threatened to withdraw from the tour but a compromise was reached.
India headed into the Perth Test and solid contributions from Rahul Dravid, Irfan Pathan, VVS Laxman and Sachin Tendulkar helped India become the first Asian team to win at the WACA as Australia’s winning streak was again halted at 16.
So, it is official. When Australia is on a winning streak in any format, India is the country to avoid in future contests as they can break it.
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