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When Laxman-Dravid floored Australia 12 years ago

Last updated on: March 14, 2013 16:58 IST

When Laxman-Dravid floored Australia 12 years ago

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Harish Kotian looks back on VVS Laxman and Rahul Dravid's epic 376-run partnership at the Eden Gardens that halted Australia's run of 15 consecutive Test victories.

Exactly 12 years ago, VVS Laxman and Rahul Dravid scripted one of the greatest rescue acts in cricket.

Playing against the all-conquering Australians at the Eden Gardens, India looked destined for another embarrassment before Laxman and Dravid changed the script with a mammoth 376-run partnership for the fifth wicket on Day 4 of the second Test, in Kolkata, in March 2001.

Their magical partnership turned the match on its head. Asked to follow-on, India staged one of the biggest escapes ever seen in Test cricket and romped to a 171-run victory.

March 14, 2001: Test cricket witnessed two of the best batsmen to have graced the sport take the Australians head on.

India resumed the day on 254 for 4. However, Dravid and Laxman held firm, not only denying the visitors a wicket in the 90 overs bowled during the day, but also scoring 335 runs, as the home side ended the day on 589 for 4.


Image: VVS Laxman and Rahul Dravid
Photographs: Hamish Blair/ALLSPORT
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Laxman crossed Sunil Gavaskar's milestone of 236

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From a situation of trying to save the match at start of Day 4, India suddenly found themselves in a winning position at stumps.

Many records were surpassed by the duo on one of India's greatest days in Test cricket.

Laxman crossed Sunil Gavaskar's milestone of 236, then the highest score by an Indian batsman in Tests. He also recorded the highest by a batsman at the Eden Gardens, beating West Indian Rohan Kanhai's knock of 256, in the 1958-59 series.

The unbroken partnership, which stood at 357 at end of the day, bettered the highest by an Indian pair for the fifth wicket. They went past Ravi Shastri and Mohammad Azharuddin's stand of 214, against England in 1984-85.

That partnership was also India's highest for any wicket against Australia, bettering the unbroken stand of 298 between Dilip Vengsarkar and Ravi Shastri in 1986-87.


Image: VVS Laxman
Photographs: Hamish Blair/ALLSPORT
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Laxman recorded the highest score by an Indian in Tests

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It was also an important day, personally, for both Laxman and Dravid. The former had always desired to bat at No. 3, and Dravid's poor form saw the in-form Hyderabad batsman being promoted to that position in the second innings with the team in dire straits.

While Laxman recorded the highest score by an Indian in Tests, Dravid answered his critics in style.

The two complemented each other perfectly in their mammoth partnership, catching the Australian attack, comprising greats like Glenn McGrath and Shane Warne, completely off-guard.

A helpless Australia captain Steve Waugh aptly described the pair's batting as "some of the best batting I have ever seen".


Image: VVS Laxman
Photographs: Hamish Blair/ALLSPORT
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Harbhajan's hat-trick

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India declared their innings on 657-7 and set the visitors a tough target of 384 off 75 overs. Needless to say, the tourists crumbled on the final day against the Indian spinners and lost by 171 runs.

Harbhajan Singh, who took a hat-trick in the first innings, claimed six wickets in the second for a match haul of 13 wickets.

Not only did Australia's run of 15 consecutive Test victories end with that defeat, but it also changed fortunes in the series.

Australia were in complete control following a 10-wicket win in the first Test in Mumbai, but India's dramatic comeback in Kolkata spurred the hosts to victory in the next match too, in Chennai, and gave them a 2-1 series triumph.


Image: Harbhajan Singh
Photographs: Shaun Botterill/Allsport
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