India vs Australia: Top 10 unforgettable moments at the historic Melbourne Cricket Ground
‘Box Office’ — as the legendary Shane Warne put it when he narrated the commercial for the blockbuster Boxing Day Test between Australia and India at the historic Melbourne Cricket Ground (MCG), starting Wednesday. The four-match series is poised nicely at 1-1 going into the third match and whichever team manages to clinch a positive result here, will take a big step towards winning the series.
Over the years, the MCG has seen its fair share of unforgettable moments and we bring you some of those instance which has been etched in the memory of fans world over.
1 – Birth of Test Cricket (1877)
The first-ever Test match was played between Australia and England at this venue way back in 1877. In a low-scoring encounter, Australia (245 & 104) edged out England (196 & 108) by 45 runs to start their glorious journey in the longest format. Opener Charles Bannerman was star of the show for the Aussies as he struck a majestic ton (165) in the first innings while Tom Kendell ended the match with an eight-wicket haul.
2 – The ‘revival’ of Test cricket (1961)
There was a popular notion in this era that Test cricket was going through a tough phase but all such talks were put to rest when West Indies touched down in Australia for a five-match series. The contest between two heavyweights had everything including a tied Test in Brisbane. Australia ran out 2-1 winners over Frank Worrell’s team but with it was Test cricket who was the real winner as 90,800 spectators came to seen the second day of the MCG Test — the highest attendance witnessed in Australia in a single (the record was finally broken in 2013-14 series when 91,112 people turned up to witnessed the Ashes Boxing Day Test).
3 – The Centenary ‘Déjà vu’ Test (1977)
While the first Test between the two nations was a low-scoring affair, the match which they played out 100 years later was anything but so. After locking horns in the first-ever match in 1877, two great rivals Australia and England met again at the same venue to mark the 100 years of Test cricket. After both teams failed with the bat in the first, the match exploded in the second when Rodney Marsh struck a majestic ton. Derek Randall did his best to help England reach the target but they fell short by 45 runs —the same number of runs by which England lost the first-ever Test against Australia in 1877.
4 – Sunil Gavaskar risked forfeiting the match (1981)
Legendary India cricketer Sunil Gavaskar has seen fare share of controversies during his illustrious career but nothing was greater that the infamous MCG Test in 1981. In the second innings of the third Test, a Dennis Lillee delivery crashed into Gavaskar’s pads and he was given out by the on-field umpire. The right-hander was evidently unhappy with the decision and he asked partner Chetan Chauhan to walk off the pitch. But just as they were about to go past the hoarding board and into their dressing room, team manager Shahid Durrani convinced Gavaskar to calm down and normalcy was restored. India went on to win the match by 59 runs, courtesy of Kapil Dev’s five-wicket haul in the fourth innings, however, the all-rounder’s heroics couldn’t overshadow the antics of then-skipper Gavaskar.
5 – Shane Warne’s first and only Test hat-trick (1994)
Leg-spinner Shane Warne rose to superstardom when he became the first cricketer in 90 years to scalp an Ashes hat-trick. It was a roller coaster ride for Warne at the MCG as he went wicket-less in the first innings but returned to take the historic hat-trick in second to fire Australia to a memorable 295-run win over England. Warne scalped the wickets of Phil DeFreitas, Darren Gough and Devon Malcolm to complete his hat-trick but it was David Boon, whom the spinner must have said thank you after the game as he took a spectacular one-hand diving catch down the leg side.
6 – Muttiah Muralitharan-Darrell Hair controversy (1995)
Australia recorded a thumping 10-wicket win over Sri Lanka but the Test will always be remembered for the infamous Muttiah Muralitharan ‘chucking’ incident. On-field Umpire Darrell Hair no-balled Muralitharan as many as seven times during the Test. What made the incident even more contentious was the fact that Muralitharan had played 22 matches before the infamous MCG Test and was never called out for throwing the ball. Few years later, Hair was found to be guilty by the International Cricket Council (ICC) for dishonouring the game after he referred to Muralitharan’s action as ‘diabolical’.
7 – Brett Lee announces himself with a bang (1999)
Australian fast-bowling great Brett Lee announced himself on the biggest stage by wrecking the Indian batting line-up at the MCG in 1999. Debutant Lee scalped five wickets in his first innings which included the prized scalp of Rahul Dravid and he also injured Sadagopan Ramesh during his fiery spell. Lee ended the match with a seven-wicket haul to round off a memorable first outing in international cricket and played a pivotal role in Australia’s 180-run win.
8 – Virender Sehwag’s breathtaking 195 ends in defeat (2003)
Virender Sehwag played one of his best innings in the longest format at the MCG in 2003, but unfortunately, he ended up to be on the losing side. Sehwag thumped the Aussie bowlers to all corners of the park and his innings included 25 boundaries and five sixes at a strike rate of 83.6. Sehwag scored at an astonishing pace and when he departed in the 79th over for 195, India’s score read 312/4. The visitors suffered a criminal middle-order collapse and then Ricky Ponting’s 257 powered Australia to a big first innings lead. India’s second innings wasn’t great either as they were bundled out for just 286 and Australia chased down 95 in the fourth innings with nine wickets to spare.
9 – Shane Warne becomes first to scale Mount 700 (2006)
Shane Warne is widely regarded as one of the best spinners ever to grace the game and he attested that saying by becoming the first cricketer ever to pick 700 wickets in the longest format. Warne castled the England southpaw for 50 in the fourth Test of Ashes 2006 to achieve this feat. Warne reached the milestone in his 144th Test match, the 100th at the MCG, and in his penultimate match in international cricket.
10 – The Virat Kohli-Mitchell Johnson duel (2014)
Apart from being in the limelight for all the right reasons in 2014, Virat Kohli’s on-field altercation with Mitchell Johnson became one of the most talked about incidents of the series. Kohli’s 169 and 54 was overshadowed by Johnson hitting him with the ball in trying to effect a run-out on the third day of the Test. Kohli responded by giving him a piece of his mind and later in the press conference, he said that he is not going to respect someone unnecessarily if that person is not doing the same. The verbal volleys between the two continued for the rest of the match, which eventually ended in a pulsating draw.