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15 years ago this day....

March 14, 2016 13:14 IST

It is widely considered the greatest comeback in Test history.
Harish Kotian/Rediff.com looks back on V V S Laxman and Rahul Dravid's partnership at the Eden Gardens 15 years ago this day

VVS Laxman and Rahul Dravid

IMAGE: V V S Laxman and Rahul Dravid. Photograph: Hamish Blair/ALLSPORT
 

Exactly 15 years ago, V V S Laxman and Rahul Dravid scripted arguably the greatest rescue act in Test cricket.

Playing against Steve Waugh's 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, March 14, 2001.

Their magical partnership turned the game on its head. Asked to follow on, India first staged Test cricket's greatest comeback before romping to a 171-run victory.

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

India resumed the day on 254/4. 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 589/4.

VVS Laxman

IMAGE: Laxman during his knock of 281. Photograph: Hamish Blair/Allsport
 

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

Many records were surpassed by the duo on India's greatest day 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 1958-1959 series.

The unbroken partnership, which stood at 357 at the end of the day, bettered the highest by an Indian pair for the fifth wicket. Laxman and Dravid went past Ravi Shastri and Mohammad Azharuddin's stand of 214 against England in 1984-1985.

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 1986-1987.

VVS Laxman

IMAGE: Laxman's 281 was recently voted the greatest Test inning of all time. Photograph: Hamish Blair/ALLSPORT
 

Laxman had always wanted to bat at No 3, and Dravid's poor form saw the Hyderabad batsman promoted to that position in the second innings with the team in dire straits.

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

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

Helpless Waugh called their batting 'some of the best batting I have ever seen.'

Harbhajan Singh

IMAGE: Harbhajan rose to the challenge. Photograph: Shaun Botterill/Allsport
 

India declared their innings on 657/7 and set the visitors a tough target of 384 off 75 overs. The Aussies 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, 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 Test in Chennai, and gave them a 2-1 series triumph.

Harish Kotian / Rediff.com
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