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Losing While Chasing Low Scores Is Aussies? Hobby! Email this page
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New Delhi, Nov. 7 (NNN): To the amazement of many, A strong Australian batting line up crashed to 93 all out at Mumbaiís Wankhede Stadium on Friday. However, it is not the first time that the Aussiesí batting collapsed like a house of cards.
In fact Australia seemed to have developed a habit of losing while chasing small totals.

The Aussies would argue that Mumbai 2004 would have been a certain win if the pitch had not been so spinner-friendly. However, maybe the old vulnerability still lives on.

On Friday, facing a side who had already lost the series and needing just 107 to seal victory, Australian fans must have thought the fourth Test in India was all but in the bag. The home side, masters of spin bowling, were facing the ultimate humiliation of a defeat brought about by the exploits of part-time slow left-armer Michael Clarke - who took 6-9 in their second innings.

However, as Indian wickets started to tumble, alarm bells should have been ringing.

For it seems that the best way to beat the world's best Test side just might be to set them a small victory target.

Six years ago in Melbourne, Australia needed only 174 runs to beat England and take a 3-0 series lead. At 103-2 Australia were cruising to their target but on came Dean Headley and down went the wickets, the last eight for 59 runs, four of them in 12 balls for Headley who finished with Test-best figures of 6-60.

Steve Waugh was left high and dry on 30 not out and England had won by 12 runs.

Waugh was again involved against England in 1997 when Australia were bowled out for 123 to lose a low-scoring Test match at The Oval by 19 runs.

In January 1992, again in Adelaide, the former Aussie captain could only watch helplessly from the dressing-room balcony after being dismissed by Curtly Ambrose for four as Australia chased 186.

At 102-8, Australia were out for the count, but Tim May, first with Shane Warne and then with Craig McDermott, edged Australia ever closer. The last-wicket stand had reached 40, and Australia stood on the brink at 184-9 when McDermott seemed to have all but won the match when a tuck off his hips so nearly evaded short leg.

In bounded Courtney Walsh, irrepressible as ever, with a short ball that snaked in to the batsman, flicked a glove and flew through to the keeper. The Windies were jubilant. Victory by a single run.

The series was squared a 1-1 and the West Indies, defending the Frank Worrell Trophy, went on to win the final Test by an innings and 25 runs.

Waugh was not playing in January 1994 when Australia chased a target of 117 to take a 1-0 lead against South Africa, only to be bowled out for 111.

However, nothing comes close to perhaps the greatest heist of them all - Headingley 1981.

England had followed on 227 runs behind and had been reduced to 41-4 in their second innings. Then came Ian Botham's 149 not out, followed swiftly by Bob Willis's 8-43.

Down went Australia for 111 as England won by 18 runs.

One match later, Botham did it again - this time with the ball. Chasing 151 for victory at Edgbaston, the Aussies were bundled out for 121, with Botham wrapping up the match with an inspired spell of five wickets for one run!

Australia should have been 3-0 up in the series, instead they were 2-1 down and the Ashes were heading England's way.

Headingley and Edgbaston 1981 stand alone in cricketing legend.

* SOME OF THEIR LOW CHASES:

= November 2004 v India, Mumbai - All out 93 to lose by 13 runs = December 1998 v England, Melbourne - All out 162 to lose by 12 runs = August 1997 v England, The Oval - All out 123 to lose by 19 runs = January 1994 v South Africa, Sydney - All out 111 to lose by 5 runs = January 1992 v West Indies, Adelaide - All out 184 to lose by 1 run = July 1981 v England, Edgbaston - All out 121 to lose by 29 runs = July 1981 v England, Headingley - All out 111 to lose by 19 runs = February 1981 v India, Melbourne - All out 83 to lose by 59 runs.


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