No Indian cricket fan can forget the India vs. Australia Test match of the 2001 Border Gavaskar Trophy at the Eden Gardens in Kolkata.
An Anil Kumble and Javagal Srinath-less Indian team led by Sourav Ganguly took on a mighty Australian team in the second Test of the series, which was on a 16 Tests winning streak, including the win in the first Test at Mumbai.
The heroes of that match VVS Laxman and Harbhajan Singh were present along with then captain Sourav Ganguly at Ganguly’s autobiography in Kolkata recently and relived that unforgettable Test.
“It was a freak Test which we won because of some magnificent cricket and luck,” said Sourav Ganguly
VVS Laxman scored a fifty in the first innings of the Test, where India scored 171 in response to Australia’s 445. Harbhajan Singh had picked up 7/123 in Australia’s first innings and Australia promptly asked India to follow on and bat again. Harbhajan Singh took the first ever hat-trick by an Indian bowler in Tests, as he snapped Ponting, Gilchrist and Warne.
“It was such an emotional experience that it left me exhausted,” said Pujara, who was also present at the event.
India were 232/4, when VVS Laxman, who was promoted to no.3 by Ganguly, was joined by Rahul Dravid and the duo put on a record 376 run partnership for the fifth wicket, including batting the whole of the fourth day of the Test.
Laxman scored 281, the then highest score by a batsman in Tests and Dravid hit 180. Needing 284 runs to win, Australia capsized to 212 all out thanks to Harbhajan’s 6/73.
“And I was thinking we would bat only one hour. Maybe I would have otherwise become the first Indian to get to a triple hundred,” said Laxman.
“After Day 4, I knew we couldn’t lose, I really didn’t know if we would win but Harbhajan’s ability to generate bounce gave me hope,” said Ganguly. So, he called the team over for a party at his place and though Dravid and Laxman were so dehydrated they had to be put on drip, they came. “When the skipper calls, you obey,” said Ganguly.
Harbhajan called his captain in that test as ‘jigrewala’ and said, “It was at the Eden that we got that self-belief.”