Some moments in sport stay etched in people’s memory for an eternity. When the invincible Australian team visited India in early 2001, things looked extremely bleak for the home team. Boasting of 15 consecutive test victories and a near-invincible lineup, the Aussies were on the verge of creating history. The absence of Anil Kumble didn’t help either and the Aussies were on their way of notching up the sixteenth. This is exactly what happened. India was steamrolled by 10 wickets in the first test in Mumbai. The sorry state of affairs continued in the next test. In Kolkata, India were staring down the barrel being forced to follow-on. Day 4 however, brought about one of the best partnerships and days in the history of Indian cricket. Continuing THE BIG MOMENTS series we present to you the third article, the 2001 Kolkata test match.
Before the test began, no one in India had given the team a chance to win. The Aussies were leaving a trail of destruction and had set a new world record of 16 test wins. Moreover, the experienced Indian speedster Javagal Srinath was ruled out of the series with a finger injury seriously denting the home team. A Bhajji hattrick did manage to bring smiles on the faces of the raucous Eden crowd. However, Aussie captain had managed to compile a brilliant century to propel the score to 445. India on the other hand, made a complete mess with the bat and could just manage 171 on the board. It was in the 2nd innings that the Laxman-Dravid duo took over and together resurrected not just India’s chances in the series but also India’s image as a test nation.
Millions of frowns turned into smiles as the duo of Laxman and Dravid made merry on a Day 4 wicket. At the start of the day, India was trailing by 20 runs with 6 wickets to spare. However, at the end of the day, the duo walked back into the pavilion intact and unbroken.Moreover, this time they had mustered a healthy lead of 315. The duo batted the entire day without losing a wicket and taking India to a strong position. Laxman had scored a majestic 281 and Dravid finally fell for 180 on the last day.
On the last day, Australia were set a daunting target of 384 to win in 75 overs. Till three-fifths of the match, a draw seemed certain. However, the Turbanator struck with an unexpected fury and took care of the captain Steve Waugh and his bunny for the series, Ricky Ponting. Sachin Tendulkar also chipped in with two big wickets, one among them of Adam Gilchrist, who still holds the dubious distinction of being the only Aussie to score a king’s pair in a test match. This was undoubtedtly one of the big moments in Aussie innings. As wickets fell, the inevitable seemed just around the corner.
It was a matter of time before the Aussies were bundled out for 212 on the cusp of Day 5 and India had become only the third team to win a test after having made to follow-on. The Eden Gardens erupted in joy and it was definitely one of the big moments in the history of Indian cricket. We at The SportsRush thank team India for the memories.