Cricket

WHERE IT ALL BEGAN

1/6/10 in Cricket   |     |   respect

 1999 and 2000: These were the two years in Indian Cricket History that every Indian wants to forget. The 3-0 whitewash in Australia, followed by their first ever home series defeat to South Africa, the match fixing scandals left the team in doldrums with no hope.

1st March, 2001: Australia defeated India in the 1st Test Match of the Border-Gavaskar Trophy at the Wankhade Stadium, Mumbai and Steve Waugh’s men achieved the World Record of Most Consecutive Victories in Test history (16 Matches). The teams then had to fly to Calcutta for the 2nd Test Match to be held at the Eden Gardens.

The Second Test at Eden Gardens in Kolkata on 11 March-15 March is regarded by many as without doubt one of the most exciting games of cricket ever played. It was the match that had everything in it and it is considered to be one of the greatest comebacks in Test Cricket history. It began with Steve Waugh winning the toss and Australia electing to bat and scoring 445, captain Steve Waugh contributing 110. Harbhajan Singh took 7-123, including a hat-trick. India's woes continued, being dismissed for only 171, V.V.S. Laxman top scored for India with a score of 59, with McGrath taking 4-18 in a brilliant bowling performance. Australia enforced the follow-on, and at the end of day 3 India were 254/4, still 20 runs behind. For many spectators, commentators, and even players, the match and the series were as good as lost for India. There was simply no hope.

It was the fourth day that made history and turned everything on its head. V.V.S. Laxman and Rahul Dravid batted the entire day, never offering a chance, and ran the Australian fielders ragged as Waugh called on nine different bowlers to try to break the partnership. Laxman and Dravid added 335 runs, taking India to 589/4 and a commanding lead in the game. The spectators at the Eden Gardens started to see a light of hope of saving the match.  In the process, Laxman set a new individual high score record for India, surpassing Sunil Gavaskar's 236. Laxman was finally dismissed the next day on 281. Dravid made 180, and India declared on day 5 at 657/7, setting Australia an almost impossible target of 384 runs. India under the command of Sourav Ganguly came onto the field with a fighting attitude, and made The Kangaroos work really hard for every run they scored. It was all going well for Australia, but till tea only. What happened after tea is just amazing. At tea, they were 161/3 for their final innings, and a draw looked the most likely result. Then, suddenly it all started going wrong; the Australians lost 5 wickets for 8 in a span of 31 balls, with Harbhajan taking the first two wickets in the same over and Tendulkar taking the other three. Australia fell for 212 all out, with Harbhajan leading the bowling attack with 6-73. India had come back from the death and recorded a stunning 171-run victory to level the series 1-1. They were only the third team in history to win a Test match after following on.

This victory ended the tremendous 16 match winning streak of the Australians. The whole scenario of the cricket world changed overnight. Indians started believing that they could win the series from that point and yes they did. The last match was played in Chennai where India won. This series win meant that the Australians had still not won a series in Indian soil. There is a much more important significance regarding this match, according to many cricketers and critics, this was the match that turned Indian cricket totally. That was the period when India has lost some of its players due to the match-fixing scandal and the Indian crowd lost faith in their team due to their disgraceful performance over the years. This match revived the hopes of the Indian masses. From that match India did not look back. They gave great performances over and over again, some of which includes the drawn Series (1-1) in 2003-04 in Aussie soil, the series wins in Pakistan (2003-04) and West Indies (2006), the 1-0 series win over England in the English land in 2007 and the Test Series victory in New Zealand after 33 years. Along with these India won quite a lot of series in India too. It is said that beating The Aussies in their home soil is almost impossible, the way things have gone in the last 6 to 7 years The Indians have equaled the Aussies in every terms. Finally after a tremendous consistent performance over the years, finally on December 6th India for the first time India gained the No.1 spot in the ICC Test Rankings for the first time since 2001 when this ranking was introduced. That one match changed India’s fate completely. Since that match India have won 18 Test Matches overseas, while from 1932 to before this match India had only won 14 Test matches overseas. Moreover, this match or rather this series saw the emergence of two of India’s greatest Test Players, Harbhajan Singh and V.V.S Laxman who is still serving India with their great performances in the field.

That Test Match really changed the looks of Indian Test Cricket.

 

 

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