India’s tour of Australia in 1999-2000 was nothing short of a disaster. The gap in the quality between the two sides was brutally exposed by the Aussies as the Indians were blanked 0-3 in the Test series. The impact of the loss was immense and it acted as a catalyst for several changes that were to come in Indian cricket in the years to follow.
Captain Sachin Tendulkar and VVS Laxman were two batsmen who held their own on that tour. But they too had their bad days. One of the highlights of that series for the hosts was the discovery of a great fast bowler, who would go on to terrorise batsmen for the next decade with his pace and verve.
23-year Brett Lee was unleashed on the Indians by the Australian selectors and the express paceman had immediate success. He picked up a five-wicket haul in the first innings of his debut Test and would go on to pick up 13 wickets in the two Tests he played against India. But the big wicket of Tendulkar remained elusive.
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Lee would make his ODI debut in the tri-series that followed, which included Pakistan, and he would finally get the prized scalp in the 10th match of the series in Adelaide. Chasing a mammoth target of 330 to win the match, all of India’s hopes rested on the shoulders of Tendulkar and it was the young Lee who dismissed him.
Lee sent Tendulkar back for 18 and went on to claim his first five-wicket haul in ODIs in that match. But that wasn’t the first time Lee had dismissed Tendulkar in his life. Lee was included in the Australian PM’s XI squad for a tour game with the Indian in Canberra ahead of the Test series and it was there that Lee had first dismissed the great batsman. He recently recollected the memories of getting Tendulkar out for the first time while speaking on Star Sports’ show ‘Cricket Connected’.
“I was 22 years when I got my first opportunity to play against the Little Master. I nicked him off and I thought I’m done. I didn’t care about a Test match since I was so happy to get Sachin Tendulkar out,” Lee said.
Brett Lee would go on to play a starring role in Australia’s World Cup triumph in 2003, but was unlucky to win the crown a second time in 2007 as he was ruled out due to an injury. He picked up more than 300 wickets in both Tests and ODIs.