Today Test Cricket is something which is not paid the attention it deserves. ODI and T20 have grabbed the entire craze that was once for Test Cricket.
If you read the names VVS Laxman and Rahul Dravid consecutively I doubt you would think about some other Test Match than the 2001 Kolkata Test. That match was one of its kinds. No one would have ever thought that this Indian side would go on to beat the Best Australian Test side which was in its Golden Era by winning 16 consecutive test matches.
The Built Up for the Story
The Aussies were leading the Border – Gavaskar Trophy by 1-0 as they had an upper hand in the 1st Mumbai Test, winning it by 10 wickets. With amazing confidence and attitude, Michael Slater and Matthew Hayden opened the innings and gave Australia a very good start as they won the toss and chose to bat first. They were pumped up with immense confidence. The momentum they had been carrying for many matches helped them a lot and the top 5 totally dominated the Indian bowling attack.
Especially Hayden’s 97 and Steve Waugh’s 110 gained people’s attention and they surely received applause from the audience and even the Indian fans. The one factor for which Indian fans would remember the 1st innings is the magical bowling of Harbhajan Singh. 7/123 is probably his best performance. How can one forget his hattrick?
Ponting, Gilchrist and Warne in a span of 3 balls is just remarkable. Thus he became the 1st ever Indian to take a hattrick in a Test Match.
Apart from Laxman’s 59 there was nothing to cherish in India’s 1st innings as it ended on a mere total of 171 which allowed Australia to enforce a follow – on. The intentions were clear; to wrap up the Indian innings and extend the winning streak to 17 consecutive test matches.
But, Indians had some other plans.
Indian openers, S Das and S Ramesh showed determination and put up a half century stand. Tendulkar and Ganguly got out for 10 and 48 respectively. What was coming next will probably be Australia’s worst ever nightmare.
Magic along with Determination
Carrying the temperament from the 1st innings Laxman was connecting the ball beautifully and was in touch of scoring some huge runs. Rahul Dravid joined him and the magic started. The two played in such a manner than they had nothing to lose.
They defended like a wall and attacked like a warrior.
What was unique about this innings was the celebration of Rahul Dravid after his century. We usually know Rahul Dravid as a calm and composed person who hardly shows his emotions. But in this match, his century was the perfect reply to the media who was criticizing him for his poor form.
Even the Australians knew that they were witnessing something extra ordinary. Players like Shane Warne and Steve Waugh also applauded the batting of the 2 maestros. The pair batted the entire 4th day and looked unbeatable.
They made a strong partnership of 376 runs and stood on the crease for more than 100 overs making it one of the best partnerships ever made.
The innings ended for VVS when he was on 281. Dravid unfortunately got run out on 180. Zaheer showed some fireworks down the order by scoring 23 in 15 balls.
The target for Australia was 384 runs.
The Aussies came to the pitch with a strong intent to chase the target. The openers were playing beautifully until Harbhajan came to India’s rescue. He took the wicket of Slater and that was the trigger point for the Indian bowlers. With a master stroke, Sachin took 3 wickets by giving away only 31 runs. Harbhajan took the last two wickets and finished with the figures 6/73 making it 13 wickets in the test match.
This was only the 3rd time that a team had won a test match after being enforced a follow- on. To everyone’s surprise Australia was the opposition on all the 3 occasions.
Heroes of the Game
This test match is often remembered for the heroics of Rahul Dravid and VVS Laxman. Of course they deserve all the credit in the world as they played the innings of their lives. The one player who deserves equal credit is Harbhajan Singh. Taking 13 wickets in a test match involving a hattrick is simply magnificent.
For the first time Tendulkar didn’t deliver with the bat was brilliant with the ball in the 2nd innings. Ganguly also deserves the credit for trusting and choosing the correct bowler at the correct time.
The fielding was absolutely spot on, especially forward short leg, slips and all the close in fielders. Whatever went even 10 inches above the ground was caught by the fielders.
The crowd erupted in joy after the victory and the victory lap was extremely memorable.
This match will definitely be remembered for ages to come and has written Golden Pages in the books of Indian Cricket History.