Reliving the India vs Australia 4th Test in 2004

A true cricket lover enjoys low-scoring matches, they are often very interesting and leave you on the edge of your seat. And this match between India and Australia played in 2004 was one of the greatest low scoring games we have ever seen.

Build Up

This match was set on the dust bowls of Mumbai. Australia had already won the series 2-0 against the Indians at their home soil after a long time. India was hungry to grab a consolation win this time. Nathan Hauritz debuted in place of Shane Warne. Meanwhile, India had two debutants going into this match: Dinesh Karthik and Gautam Gambhir. Australian skipper Ricky Ponting came back from an injury to play in this match.

First Innings

India won the toss and elected to bat first. However, the decision didn’t pay off as Virender Sehwag’s stumps got shattered by Glenn McGrath with India’s score at 11. The highest run getter for India in that series was dismissed cheaply within 3 overs. His partner, Gautam Gambhir was caught plumb in front by Jason Gillespie soon.

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Sachin Tendulkar, who was playing his second Test after a tennis elbow injury, got out to Jason Gillespie for 5 runs. India was in deep trouble now with the score reading 29-3. Laxman too departed in a similar fashion when Gillespie got a snick to Gilchrist who was happy to hold on to the catch. Mohammad Kaif marched back to the pavilion with credits to Gillespie. Gillespie was wreaking havoc into the Indian batting order. At the other end, stood “The Wall”, Rahul Dravid. Dinesh Karthik was bowled by Kasprovicz and the score was now 46-6. It was very certain that India might be bowled out for less than 100 runs

However, the partnership of Dravid with Kumble and Harbhajan somehow managed to get them over 100. The debutant, Hauritz and Kasprovicz cleaned up the tail-enders to reduce India to a paltry total of 104. Gillespie picked a fantastic four-wicket haul and Hauritz managed to pick 3 wickets in the innings.

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Second Innings

Australia too got off to a shaky start losing Justin Langer to Zaheer Khan early on. Ricky Ponting followed him to the pavilion, falling to Anil Kumble after scoring 11 runs. The Aussie scoreboard read 37/2. The man who carried them in almost every match of this series, Damien Martyn had to step up once again to rescue his team.

Hayden and Martyn did decent damage control. They knew that the pitch was not looking like a batsman-friendly track so they began to play carefully. Hayden smacked 3 sixes and was well on course on a fifty but that was before Murali Kartik got him out. The score was now 81/3.

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Kumble and Kartik worked in tandem to restrict the Aussies to a low score. Gilchrist though looked in good touch batting in an aggressive mode, but Murali Kartik grabbed his wicket too. Kumble was in his A-game getting a lot of turn and assistance from the pitches. Damien Martyn was the lone ranger in that innings. He smashed a fantastic half-century in the testing conditions of Mumbai. However, he couldn’t survive long as his innings of 55 came to an end after his bails were dislodged.

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The Australian batting order was now done and dusted. India managed to bowl them out for 203 runs.

Third Innings

India started off in a similar fashion against the Aussies as they did in the first innings. Gambhir was dismissed by Glenn McGrath after nicking the ball to the slips. Very soon, Sehwag fell to Glenn McGrath once again, after misjudging the bounce and was adjudged LBW by the umpire.

People expected Dravid to come at No.3 but it was VVS Laxman who came in that position. He was accompanied by Sachin at the other end.

And Sachin was simply too good in that innings. He oozed class as he always had. VVS at the other hand looked like poetry in motion. He smoked boundaries using his delicate yet smooth wrist movement. It was a great sight for all Indian fans to watch!

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Both of them scored fine half-centuries and it was a joyous sign for the players as well as the fans. But all that joy came to an end when Sachin got out to Hauritz trying to slog-sweep him. Nathan Hauritz then took a splendid catch to dismiss the dangerous-looking VVS Laxman.

And then, the part timer, Michael Clarke did something completely unexpected…

Clarke first dismissed Dravid after he edged the ball to the keeper Gilchrist. Then, he followed it by taking the wicket of Dinesh Karthik. It looked like the pitch had started playing its tricks against the batsmen. The dismissal of Mohammad Kaif soon made sure that India was reduced to a total of just over 200. Clarke cleaned the tail consisting of Harbhajan Singh, Murali Kartik and Zaheer Khan to ensure India didn’t put up a big score.

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Clarke’s bowling figures read 6.2-0-9-6 which was too good for a part-time bowler.

Fourth Innings

Australia required just 107 runs to wrap up the series 3-0. It was certain that India was going to lose the match against the mighty batting lineup consisting of Ponting, Hayden, Langer, Martyn, Gilchrist and Clarke.

In the first over, Zaheer Khan removed Justin Langer for a duck.

The Tactical Stroke

Dravid noticed that he had to go for his spinners considering Michael Clarke’s exploits in the previous innings. After Clarke had taken 6 wickets in a terrific spell with his left-arm spin, Dravid handed over the ball to Murali Kartik instead of Kumble just because the left-arm spin that Clarke had produced. Zaheer was removed from the attack and Harbhajan and Murali
Kartik were brought in.

Kartik removed the dangerous Ponting for just 12 runs and then after 5 balls he removed the top scorer of that series, Damien Martyn for a duck.

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Harbhajan meanwhile scalped Katich at the other end. Australia was made to look ordinary in front of the Indian spinners. Kartik and Bhajji were dismantling the batting order and soon to India’s delight, the score became 58-7. Dravid’s move paid off and he got more rewards as the innings progressed. Harbhajan Singh and Murali Kartik had destroyed the Aussie batting lineup. To everyone’s surprise, Australia failed to chase the target of 107 runs and had to wrap up their innings for a mere 93 runs which meant that India won! What a result! What a match!

Have you noticed that this match featured some unlikely heroes? I mean who would have expected that a part-timer, Michael Clarke to boast a 6 wicket haul after this match. Plus, conventionally, it would’ve been Zaheer, Bhajji or Kumble to do the match-winning job for India but a certain Murali Kartik had done the job working well with others.

This match showed that low scoring thrillers are just as good as chasing 220 in a T20 match. Though Australians won the series 2-1 against India at their own backyard, this match will always be remembered fondly on how India marvellously grabbed victory after staring at the jaws of defeat for most parts of the match.

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