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Laxman, Dravid bat out entire day to break Australia

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Last updated on 14 Mar 2023 | 07:58 AM
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Laxman, Dravid bat out entire day to break Australia

On this day in 2001, The India duo scored 335 runs without losing a wicket on Day Four of the Eden Gardens Test after being asked to follow-on by Australia

Australia were staring at winning 17 Tests in a row when they took the field at Eden Gardens in 2001. They had beaten India comprehensively by 10 wickets in the first game in Mumbai and looked to be well on course to go 2-0 up after bowling India out for 171 after putting up 445, batting first. India were asked to follow on and needed a mammoth effort from the entire team to salvage something out of this Test. Surely, Australia’s to lose right?

That’s when VVS Laxman and Rahul Dravid put all their skill on show. Laxman especially was in superb form. He scored a stroke-filled fifty in the first innings, and after being promoted to No. 3, he remained unbeaten on 109 going into the penultimate day of the Test. 

When Sourav Ganguly was dismissed on Day Three, India needed 42 runs more to make Australia bat again. But little did we know that the way Indian cricket would be perceived in the years to come will hinge on two individuals who would go on to hand the best team in the world, a masterclass.

On this day in 2001, Dravid and Laxman forever etched their names in history with a match-altering stand that would change the face of Indian cricket. 

Many look at India’s win in Adelaide in 2003 as a game or series where some of the top Australian bowlers like Glenn McGrath and Shane Warne did not play. 2001 Kolkata was anything but that. Australia not just had McGrath and Warne but also the likes of Jason Gillespie and Michael Kasprowicz who were in top form.

India though missed one of their premier spinners Anil Kumble due to a shoulder injury. 

The Indian duo though looked fearless – driving, pulling and cutting with utmost ease. It was a near-chanceless day. Australia looked deflated and out of ideas when India went into tea 217 runs ahead with six wickets in hand. Dravid had reached his ton, and Laxman was nearing the landmark of the highest individual Test score for an Indian batter. 

Barring wicket-keeper Adam Gilchrist and skipper Steve Waugh, Australia had tried every bowling option. Not often during those days did you see Australia desperate.

India eventually ended the day scoring 335 runs without losing a wicket. 

What followed?

- On Day Five, Laxman was dismissed for 281, bringing an end to his 376-run stand for the fifth wicket with Dravid, who was the last man out for 180. India set Australia a 384-run target.

- Australia lost the match by 171 runs making it only the third occasion for a team has lose a Test match after asking the opposition to follow-on

- India won the next and final Test in Chennai by two wickets to clinch the series 2-1

-India once again stopped Australia’s 16-Test winning streak when they beat them by 72 runs in Perth in 2008

- New Zealand is the only other team to have won a Test after being asked to follow on since then – when they beat England by one run in February 2023.

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