Dinesh Mongia plays a shot against Australia in the ICC Champions Trophy in 2006 © Getty Images
Dinesh Mongia remained not out on 63 off 90 deliveries © Getty Images

September 22, 2006. As the DLF Cup in Malaysia reached its climax, India took on Australia in the all-important qualifier for the final. As the small crowd at Kinrara Academy Oval in the generally cricket-agnostic city of Kuala Lumpur waited for the outcome of the match, cricket statisticians across the world waited in eager anticipation for the milestone: who would score the millionth ODI run? Abhishek Mukherjee looks back at a forgotten landmark for the 50-over format.

They were already on the decline, but West Indies were still a force to reckon with in world cricket. Though they lost the first match of the DLF Cup against Australia, they beat India on Duckworth-Lewis in the second. India got away in the third match, against Australia, after being reduced to 35 for 5 chasing 170 in 29 overs. Unfortunately for them, both Australia and West Indies had acquired bonus points from their opening matches.

Then West Indies overhauled the Australians, with Chris Gayle and Brian Lara making small task of a 273-run target. After they were bowled out for 162 in the fifth match, it seemed India would be knocked out — but West Indies collapsed to 146.

Despite that, West Indies had already made it to the final, with 9 points. The third team would be one of Australia (7) and India (6).

Matthew Hayden (54) got Australia to a good start, but the Indians hit back, and soon afterwards they had Australia at 117 for 6 in the 32nd over. The Brads — Haddin (46) and Hogg (38) — then added 77 in 79 balls, and Australia were bowled out for 213.

Meanwhile…

Allan Border had scored the millionth run in Test cricket, 109 years after the first Test had been played. That was on October 19, 1986, and almost two decades had passed since then. It was time for the 50-over format to reach the milestone as well.

On September 19, 2006, the tally stood at 998, 762. The following day saw India edging past West Indies in that low-scoring thriller, but elsewhere, in Potchefstroom, Mark Boucher slammed a 44-ball 100 en route 147 not out from 68 balls. South Africa put up 418 for 5, and Zimbabwe responded with 247 for 4.

The aggregate was now 999,735. They needed another 265. Australia had scored 213, which meant another 52 were required.

Had this been common news, there would have been speculations regarding who it would be, for the Indian batting line-up featured at least three superstars in Sachin Tendulkar, Rahul Dravid, and Virender Sehwag.

Who would it be?

That champ from Chandigarh

Things went very wrong for India from the beginning. Tendulkar started well, square-driving Brett Lee for four in the first over. He survived a scare in the second over when he edged one to Haddin off Glenn McGrath; after a long discussion he was recalled. In the next over he holed out to point. Lee followed it up by hitting off-stump to send Sehwag back.

Dravid steadied ship, as he had done so often, with Mohammad Kaif. And then, just when it seemed that one of them will get the 52nd run, Stuart Clark removed both in the space of three balls. From 47 for 2 India slid to 50 for 4.

Young Suresh Raina walked out, but Clark had already finished his over. Mongia placed the fifth ball of McGrath’s over towards fine-leg for a single, and ODI cricket’s tally — spanning across 35 years — amounted to 999,999 runs.

On came Clark. A quiet Mongia played the first four balls to mid-off, back to Clark, to square-leg, and again to mid-off.

Then came the fifth ball. Haddin was ready. There was also a slip. Everything about the ball was perfect, the line, the length, the slight movement away from Mongia. It even took the edge — but flew between Haddin and slip — for four!

And ODI cricket, to quote Arunabha Sengupta, “became a millionaire”!

What followed?

– Mongia batted quite well. Raina came to his aid with a 46-run stand, as did MS Dhoni, helping put on 62, and Ajit Agarkar, adding 27. Unfortunately, once Lee came back for the kill, India lost their last 4 wickets for 10 runs, and were knocked out. Mongia was left stranded on 63 as Lee took 5 for 38.

– Australia scored 240 for 6 in the final. West Indies lost Gayle for a golden duck, while Runako Morton hung on for a grim, painstaking 31-ball duck. They were never in the battle once Lara fell cheaply, and it took a 7th-wicket stand of 50 between Ramnaresh Sarwan and Dwayne Smith to take them past 100. They were eventually bowled out for 112.

Brief scores:

Australia 213 in 48.1 overs (Matthew Hayden 54, Brad Haddin 46) beat India 195 in 43.5 overs (Dinesh Mongia 63*; Brett Lee 5 for 38) by 18 runs.

Man of the Match: Brett Lee.

(Abhishek Mukherjee is the Chief Editor at CricketCountry and CricLife. He blogs here and can be followed on Twitter here.)