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Dennis Lillee in the third Test against India overtook Richie Benaud’s then-record wickets aggregate for Australia (248) in 1981

Dennis Lillee in the third Test against India overtook Richie Benaud's then-record wickets aggregate for Australia (248) in 1981

The former Australian fast bowler Dennis Lillee scripted history on this day. Lillee, an all-time great, surpassed Richie Benaud, another Australian great, in terms of wickets for Australia in Test cricket. The furious fast bowler achieved this milestone against India in 1981 at the historic Melbourne cricket ground. 

Bittersweet Melbourne memory

India and Australia arrived in Melbourne for the third and final match of the 3-match Test series. The Kangaroos had a 1-0 lead in the series that they earned by winning the first Test. The Indian team was high on confidence as they found success in pushing the second match towards a draw to stay alive in the series. The Melbourne Test was a must-win affair for India if they had to save the series. 

The Australian skipper, Greg Chappell, won the toss and invited the Indian team to bat first. The Kangaroos unsettled India at the start of the first innings with early breakthroughs. Lillee also picked up a wicket by sending Dilip Vengsarkar back to the pavilion. After this Gundappa Vishwanath and Sandeep Patil applied the brake on the fall of wickets with a small partnership. However, this partnership was broken by Dennis Lille who got rid of Sandeep Patil. Soon he also dismissed Yashpal Sharma to reduce India to 5/99. With lower-order cameos and Gundappa Vishwanath’s century India posted 237 runs in the first innings. 

India’s first innings total was dwarfed by Australia as the Kangaroos ended their first innings with 419 runs on the board courtesy of a century from Allan Border. In the second innings, India showcased the batting skills to end up with 324 runs in their account. The second innings also brought a piece of history for Lillee as he overtook Richie Benaud’s number of wickets. The Australians had to chase a reasonable total of 143 runs to seal the series but the home side witnessed a dramatic collapse. Kapil Dev proved to be a menace for Australia as picked up 5 wickets to restrict Australia to a low total of 83 runs. As a result of this collapse India won the match by 59 runs and the series ended in a draw. 

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