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Birthday Special: Five blazing spells from Australian legend Brett Lee

Australia’s joint-highest wicket-taker in ODI cricket, Brett Lee celebrated his 43rd birthday today. Fondly known as ‘Binga’, Lee swiftly earned the reputation of being the bowler to watch out for. Capable of generating bowling speed around 155-160 kmph, he remains much loved amongst the cricketing fraternity. Blessed with heroic looks, the Australian pacer has featured on the silver screen as well. He was heroic on the field as well, here are Lee’s top five spells from international cricket.

5/47 against India, Melbourne Cricket Ground, Melbourne, 1999 (Tests)

Impressed by young Lee’s domestic performances for New South Wales, Australian captain Steve Waugh called up the 23-year old fast bowler for the second Test against India at Melbourne. With a mammoth first innings score of 405 to play with, Lee ran through the Indian batting lineup. Opener Sadagopan Ramesh was his first wicket. Lee then found the outside edge of Rahul Dravid’s bat. He then dismissed MSK Prasad, Ajit Agarkar and Javagal Srinath in an over to complete a five-wicket haul on Test debut.

5/30 against England, Melbourne Cricket Ground, Melbourne, 2003 (ODIs)

The tri-series of 2002-03 saw hosts Australia and their arch-enemy England in the final. In the best of three-finals, Australia had already the 1-0 advantage. In the second final, the home side could manage only 229/7 in their 50 overs. Brett Lee struck early in his opening spell with the scalps of Marcus Trescothick and Nick Knight. England’s middle-order fought back and needing 14 runs from 18 balls, England were firm favourites. The blonde speedster stormed back into the action with a double-wicket over. He defended six runs in the final over and won the VB series for Australia.

5/42 against New Zealand, St George’s Park, Port Elizabeth, 2003 (ODIs)

This was a battle of pace as New Zealand’s Shane Bond squared off against the speed of Brett. Bond threatened to break the winning streak of Australia in the World Cups with an astounding spell of 6/23. Lee fought fire with fire. After McGrath had accounted for the first three wickets, Lee stepped up to bowl the 25th over with New Zealand at 99/5. In his next 3.1 overs, he took five wickets for six runs as New Zealand collapsed to 112 all out. Australia continued their streak with a 96-run victory.

3/5 against New Zealand, Eden Park, Auckland, 2005 (ODIs)

In the opening encounter of the three-match ODI series, Australia finished with 252/8 in their 50 overs. Lee opened the bowling for his side and began with a maiden over. He then provided a breakthrough in his third over by removing Hemish Marshall. Lee followed it up with another maiden and sent back Hemish’s brother in the next over. The pacer completed his opening spell with a wicket of Craig McMillan. Other Australian bowlers wrapped up the Kiwis as they stumbled to 105 all out. Lee’s match figures of 6-4-5-3 remain his most economical bowling figures ever.

5/22 against South Africa, Docklands Stadium, Melbourne, 2006 (ODIs)

South Africa stopped Australia for 245 runs in their first innings of the VB series league stage match but they were up against a fiery Brett Lee that night. With searing pace, Lee managed to extract tremendous bounce from the Melbourne track. He accounted for Graeme Smith and Andrew Hall in his opening spell. He then returned in the middle overs for a triple-strike. Three bowled dismissals on the trot broke South Africa’s reply and Australia clinched the game with a 59-run margin.

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