India, who were asked to follow-on in the second innings, made a great comeback to win the Test match. Things weren’t looking good for them in the first three days of the match though! India were bowled out for just 171 in the first innings and were asked to follow-on in the second innings.
A special effort was needed to help the home team to turn things around. This is when VVS Laxman and Rahul Dravid stepped up with a 376-run partnership for the fifth wicket in the second innings.
Laxman (109*) and Dravid (7*) were at the crease for India at Stumps on Day 3. India did not lose a wicket on Day 4 with VVS and Dravid playing the whole day scoring 335 runs. India were trailing Australia by 20 runs at Stumps on Day 3 and they finished Day 4 with a healthy lead of 315 runs with 6 wickets in hand! What a turnaround!
India declared their second innings at 657/7 on Day 5 just after Dravid departed on 180 as Run Out. VVS made 281 in the second innings, this was the then highest score in Tests for any Indian batsmen going past Sunil Gavaskar’s unbeaten 236* (against West Indies in Chennai, 1983).
“The mindset of giving up changed. Till the last wicket was taken or the last run scored, we always fought hard,” said VVS Laxman in an interview almost a decade later reflecting on the special Kolkata Test match.
India set a target of 384 runs for Australia on Day 5. Visitors had the chance of pushing the match towards a Draw but they were bowled out for 212 handing India a massive 171-run victory.
Indian ace spinner Harbhajan Singh made miracles with the ball picking up 13 wickets in the match. He took a Hat-Trick with the wickets of Ponting, Gilchrist and Warne in the 72nd Over of Australia’s first innings.
This is the first instance of an Indian bowler picking up a hat-trick in Tests. Later, Irfan Pathan repeated the feat in Pakistan in 2006. Pathan got wickets of Salman Butt, Younis Khan and Yousuf in the very first over of the Karachi Test match!
India, who were bowled out for 171 in their 1st innings, went on to win the Test by 171 runs. What a coincidence of numbers this is! Though many factors contributed for the Kolkata Test win, this Test match will always be remembered for Laxman’s superb knock and his brilliant partnership with Dravid.
*Photo credits to ESPNcricinfo