Steve Waugh's Australian team was considered as 'Cricket's Invincibles' when it came to play India in 2001. By defeating India in the first Test at Mumbai, the Australian team of the golden era had gone unbeaten for 16 consecutive games. The teams then came to the iconic Eden Gardens where things looked set for another Australian victory. On the fifth day, however, it was India who emerged victorious and broke the Australian streak. Let us take a look back at the famous Kolkata Test of 2001.
At the Eden Gardens, Steve Waugh won the toss and chose to bat first. The Australian top-order delivered once again as the captain scored a hundred and Matthew Hayden fell three short of his. It was here when a young Harbhajan Singh stood up to the occasion and took the first-ever hat-trick by an Indian in Test cricket.
Harbhajan Singh removed Ricky Ponting, Adam Gilchrist and Shane Warne and triggered an Australian collapse. Jason Gillespie was a saving grace for Australia though as he helped the side get to a very competitive total of 445. India came into bat and the Australians wreaked havoc on the whole lineup, dismissing India for 171. Only VVS Laxman showed signs of brilliance with his quickfire 59.
A confident Steve Waugh asked Sourav Ganguly's men to follow on and an Indian defeat looked imminent. India were still 274 runs behind. The Indian openers fell again but here is where Sourav Ganguly promoted the in-form VVS Laxman to come in at No.3 over Rahul Dravid. Soon enough, India lost Sachin Tendulkar and the captain Sourav Ganguly himself but Laxman kept grinding. To his aid, came out the under-pressure and demoted Dravid at No.6.
The duo then stitched an iconic partnership worth 376 runs that changed the match into arguably one of the greatest matches to be ever played. VVS Laxman smashed 281 and Rahul Dravid smashed 180, bringing India to an astonishing lead of 383 by the fifth day. Australia had less than a day to chase this down so it was realistic enough for the team to aim for a draw.
However, Harbhajan Singh and Sachin Tendulkar had other plans as Singh carried on his steamrolling form to take six more wickets, adding to his seven in the first innings. Sachin Tendulkar came in and took out a settled Matthew Hayden before dismissing Adam Gilchrist for a first-ball duck. Gilchrist became the first Australian to get out for a king's pair.
Sachin Tendulkar also dismissed Shane Warne. In the end, India defeated Australia by a massive margin of 171 runs and the audience at the Eden Gardens was elated. The historic performance put an end to the undisputed record of the Australian team and remains an iconic match for cricket fans across the globe. It was only the third time that a team won a match after being asked to follow on.
Here is a video that captures how Sachin Tendulkar, Rahul Dravid, and Sourav Ganguly celebrated the win. The veterans of Indian cricket, who are otherwise known for being extremely well-behaved off the field, were more than elated with the win and celebrated like there is no tomorrow by opening up champagne bottles with joy.
Video credit: Desi Robelinda/Twitter