It is worth noting that traditionally India are labeled as weary travelers and an ODI series win outside the Indian subcontinent has been a rare occurrence in India’s cricket, making the ODI series win against South Africa all the more commendable. We take a look at India’s greatest ODI series wins outside the Indian subcontinent.
After losing the Test series against South Africa, India have played like a team possessed and have come back strongly in the ODIs where they have annihilated the Proteas in the taking a 4-1 lead in the series with just the 6th ODI remaining to be played.. Led superbly by captain Virat Kohli, India are looking well set to win this overseas series and strengthen their grip on the top spot in ICC ODI Rankings.
Here, we recollect 5 of India’s greatest ODI series wins outside the Indian subcontinent over the years.
Note: ICC Tournaments including the World Cup and Champions Trophy have not been considered while compiling this list.
1. Natwest Series, 2002 (Venue – England)
Brimming with confidence and the valor of youth, a new Team India went to England in 2002 and recorded one of our finest ODI series victories outside the Indian subcontinent. Before the Test series, India were scheduled to play the Natwest Series, an ODI tri-series also involving hosts England and Sri Lanka.
The final of the tri-series was played between England and India on July 13, 2002 at the iconic Lord’s in London. After winning the toss, England captain Nasser Hussain elected to bat first and bat they did. Riding on centuries by opener Trescothick and skipper Hussain, England put up a mammoth total of 325 runs on board and it almost signaled the end for India.
The Indians started their run chase with much bravado with openers Sehwag and Ganguly taking the total to over 100 in less than 14 overs. And in came the expected slide. Both openers, Dinesh Mongia, the great Sachin Tendulkar and Rahul Dravid were all back in the hut in no time, leaving India tattering at 146/5 and with little hope left.
Miracle? Miracle. With their team out in the dumps, young guns Yuvraj Singh and Mohammad Kaif forged a partnership worth remembering for ages. The duo took India from 146/5 to 267/5 before nerves got the better of Yuvraj and he looped a simple catch to Alex Tudor. Kaif, though was determined to take his team home and so he did. What followed were scenes that are hard to forget and will forever be etched in every Indian fan’s memory, as one of India’s best ODI series wins. Cue: Sourav Ganguly’s shirtless celebration in the Lord’s balcony. Go figure!
2. World Series, 1985 (Venue – Australia)
The Benson & Hedges World Championship of Cricket (World Series) was a One Day International tournament held from 17 February to 10 March 1985 in Australia to commemorate the 150th anniversary of European settlement in Victoria. The championship had all the then Test playing nations as participants, with the matches played at the Melbourne Cricket Ground (MCG) and the Sydney Cricket Ground (SCG).
India went into the tournament as the reigning World Champions, having won the 1983 World Cup in England under Kapil Dev’s captaincy. West Indies and Australia were the early favourties but it was Sunil Gavaskar’s India who emerged victorious and took the trophy home.
India beat New Zealand in the semi-final of the World Series by 7 wickets and booked a ticket to the final against arch rivals Pakistan on March 10, 1985. Kapil Dev produced a memorable spell of swing bowling in the big final and reduced Pakistan to 4/33 before Javed Miandad and Imran Khan began a rescue act which saw them post 176/9 in the stipulated 50 overs.
Indian openers Ravi Shastri and Kris Srikkanth made short work of the chase and comfortably took their team home. 17-year-old leg-spinner Laxman Sivaramakrishnan was one of the heroes of the tournament for India, alongside Srikkanth and Shastri, with the latter also being named the Player of the Series. Definitely one of India’s best ODI series wins.
3. Coca-Cola Cup, 1998 (Venue – Sharjah)
The Coca-Cola Cup, held in 1998 in Sharjah, will forever be remembered for Little Master Sachin Tendulkar’s two epic centuries, including one in the big final. The Coca-Cola cup was the first tournament in ten years to be held in Sharjah and was played between Australia, New Zealand and India, with the three teams playing each other twice in a Round Robin format.
Australia won all their league matches and qualified for the final, while both India and New Zealand had won a game each, which meant that the second finalist had to be chosen on the basis of net run rate. India played Australia in the last league game, with Michael Bevan’s century propelling the Kangaroos to a solid total of 284/7 in their 50 overs. India’s reply was led by Tendulkar, who produced one of the most memorable One-day innings of all time, which ultimately also saw India qualify for the final ahead of New Zealand.
In the final, it was again Australia who batted first and posted a challenging 272 runs on the board. Cometh the hour, cometh the man. Chasing a big target with the added pressure of playing in a final in front of a capacity crowd, Tendulkar produced yet another masterly century on his 25th birthday and gifted India the Coca-Cola Cup, which also became one of India’s best ODI series wins outside the subcontinent.
Sachin Tendulkar’s back to back centuries in high pressure games against the mighty Australians were popularly labelled as the ‘Desert Storm’ knocks. In a lighter vein, legendary leg-spinner Shane Warne went on to claim that he had “nightmares” after being dominated by Tendulkar throughout the tournament in Sharjah.
4. Commonwealth Bank Series, 2007/08 (Venue – Australia)
The 2007/08 edition of the CB Series was played between Australia, India and Sri Lanka in a tri-series Round Robin format. India had given a good account of themselves in the Test series, which they narrowly lost by a margin of 2-1, albeit in controversial circumstances. Nevertheless, hosts and reigning World Champions Australia were the best cricket team during the regular matches before the finals, taking 4 wins with bonus points.
The finals of the ODI series were played in a best of three format, with Australia and India being the two teams to make it to the finals. The first final was played at the Sydney Cricket Ground (SCG), where Australia won the toss and batted first. Chasing 240 runs to win, India were once again led by Master Blaster Sachin Tendulkar, who scored an unbeaten century to take his cricket team home, and won the Man of the Match award in the process.
The second final was a must win for hosts Australia and was played at The Gabba in Brisbane. Indian captain MS Dhoni won the toss and elected to bat first on a Gabba track that looked like it would slow down with progress in play. Riding on a composed knock of 91 runs by Sachin Tendulkar, India posted a total of 258 runs in their 50 overs before Praveen Kumar’s epic swing bowling skittled the Aussies out for 249.
India won the finals of the CB Series 2-0 and recorded yet another memorable overseas ODI series win in their illustrious history.
5. New Zealand vs India, 2009
The only overseas bilateral ODI series win to feature on this list is India’s 3-1 ODI series win in New Zealand in March, 2009. It is an open secret that India have never traveled well to New Zealand, with the cricket conditions on offer there being as good as alien for the Indian batsmen. Under MS Dhoni’s captaincy, the 2009 series was a different story with India emerging victorious in both the ODI and the Test series in New Zealand.
The tour started off in typical fashion for the visiting Indians as a Brendon McCullum-inspired Kiwis side thrashed them in the two-match T20I series. Led ever so skilfully by MS Dhoni, India were successful in reversing the trend in the ODIs and pocketed the five-match series 3-1.
Coming in at Number 3, captain led from the front in the cricket ODI series opener and played a crucial unbeaten knock of 84 runs in a rain-curtailed match to put India 1-0 up. The second game in Wellington was a washout and failed to produce a result. Legendary opener Sachin Tendulkar played an innings of 163 runs in less than 135 deliveries in the following match in Christchurch and gave his team a 2-0 lead in the series. Next up was Virender Sehwag’s turn to showcase his wizardry in the Hamilton ODI as India won the game by 10 wickets, and sealed the series 3-0.
India were able to carry their limited-overs form in the Test series as well and beat the Kiwis 1-0 in a three-match series, completing a rare successful tour to New Zealand for Team India, and recording another of the huge ODI series wins outside the subcontinent.