The Greatest Ever Comeback in ODIs

Date: 21 October 1996
Venue: M Chinnaswamy Stadium, Bangalore
Match: India v Australia (D/N),  group match, Titan Cup

The series was Titan Cup, a triangular series between India, Australia and South Africa, hosted by India. All three strong teams, coming off the 1996 World Cup. South Africa had comfortably defeated both India and Australia, and qualified for the final.

It was a must-win encounter for both India and Australia. Australia won the toss and chose to bat first. India did well to restrict them to 215/7, despite Mark Taylor’s 105, thanks to the local boys (Venkatesh Prasad, Anil Kumble and Sunil Joshi) who took 6 of the 7 wickets between them. It took a Tendulkar special to get Taylor out.

India began poorly, to nobody’s surprise. At 47 for 4, and Dravid, Azharuddin and Ganguly back in the pavilion, things began to take a bad turn. It was deja vu time. The game was suspended for 17 minutes due to crowd trouble and it threatened to be a repeat of the World Cup semifinal. It was only after Azharuddin himself walked out to pacify the crowds that they calmed down. The match resumed again.

Remember, this was the 1990s, and as long as Sachin Tendulkar was still batting, anything was possible. Wickets kept falling around him but the soldier fought on, until he was deceived by a slow ball and given out lbw for 88 in the 43rd over.

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Now let’s take a moment to let the situation sink in. Must-win game. 164 for 8. Sachin Tendulkar gone. 52 runs required in 47 balls, only 2 wickets in hand. Javagal Srinath, Kumble and Prasad to bat, all tail-enders. People were seen leaving the stadium. This is 1996, mind you, long before Twenty20 came along. This was believed to be a Herculean task even for top order batsmen, leave alone for No. 9 and 10. At this point, I can say with sufficient conviction that nearly everyone in the country switched off their TV sets and went to bed. Sachin gaya, toh match gaya’ was the mantra.

But a beautiful cameo by Javagal Srinath (30*, 23b, 2×4, 1×6) in the company of Anil Kumble (cricketer) (16*, 19b, 1×4) against an Australian attack comprising of McGrath, Fleming, Gillespie and Hogg, succeeded in doing the impossible. The local heroes had done it! India won by 2 wickets with 7 balls to spare. Even though Tendulkar was adjudged the player of the match, it was the 52 run unbeaten partnership in just 40 balls that did it for India. It was then the world record partnership for the 9th wicket in a successful run chase (broken in 2003).

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At 164 for 8, I’m sure nobody, not even those in the Indian dressing room thought India had a chance. A week later, India went on to beat South Africa in the final and win the Titan Cup. This, in my opinion, remains one of the best thrilling comebacks in one day cricket. It was Javagal Srinath who, on that magical night, taught us to be eternally optimistic.

Watch it happen from 1:11:06 onward.

Source(s):
3rd Match: India v Australia at Bangalore, Oct 21, 1996|Cricket Scorecard|ESPN Cricinfo
Glorious uncertainties win, again
Javagal Srinath and Anil Kumble seal thrilling win in nervous run-chase against Australia in Titan Cup 1996
Sidin Vadukut: Eternal optimism? I blame Kumble and Srinath


Edit: Picture of Kumble’s mother and grandmother rejoicing in the stands, along with the rest of the crowd. Thank you Suman Varma, for the nostalgia. Apologies for the low picture quality.

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A year later, Javagal Srinath again played another crucial role in the then world record for the highest ever run chase in ODIs, against Pakistan in the 3rd Final of the Independence Cup. He came in at 306 for 7 with 9 runs required in 6 balls, and saw India home with a ball to spare, in the company of Hrishikesh Kanitkar. (Source: 3rd Final: India v Pakistan at Dhaka, Jan 18, 1998|Cricket Scorecard|ESPN Cricinfo)


We remember Javagal Srinath only for his 551 international wickets, but he also helped India achieve two sensational run chases in the 1990s. Much respect to him!

Original answer on Quore here.

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