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On this day in 2001: India complete one of modern cricket's greatest comebacks

  • India seemed to be out of the series having lost the first Test, and then being forced to follow on in the second.
  • Harbhajan Singh's 32 wickets saw India turn the series around and claim victory on a difficult 5th day pitch in Chennai.
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Modified 22 Mar 2020, 13:07 IST

Harbhajan Singh was the architect-in-chief of a shock series win for India
Harbhajan Singh was the architect-in-chief of a shock series win for India

It was on this day in the summer of 2001 that sunny Chennai saw the completion of one of the great modern cricketing comebacks. India were completely outplayed by the all-conquering Australians at Wankhede in the first Test of the series.

A 10-wicket in Mumbai, forced to follow-on in Kolkata, Sourav Ganguly’s men were staring down the barrel going into the second innings of the second Test. However, sending VVS Laxman up the order seemed to be a masterstroke by Ganguly.

A 376-run partnership for the 5th wicket between Laxman and Rahul Dravid turned the match on its head and brought India back into the series. Having set Australia a target of 384, India went into the final innings firmly in the driver’s seat.

Wily off-spinner, Harbhajan Singh, spun a web around the Aussie middle-and-lower-order and the men from Down Under were skittled out for 212. 

India had the momentum moving into the final Test of the series in Chennai. But would that be enough to topple the mighty Australians?

Australia got off to the kind of start that they would have wanted but ‘Bhajji’ pulled India back into the game, helping them bowl the Aussies out for under 400. India responded in the best possible way with their top 6 all firing together in the same innings for the first time in the series. Sachin Tendulkar’s masterful 126 was the highest score in India’s total of 501.

An 8-wicket haul from Harbhajan in the second innings saw his wicket tally for the series go to 32. The magical spell from the spinner also meant that India only had to chase down 155.

However, even 155 can seem like a lot on a 5th day pitch at the MA Chidambaram Stadium. The home team would chase down the total eventually though, after a few hiccups along the way. 

Quite fittingly, it was Harbhajan that hit the winning runs for India. The moment of glory rightly went to the architect behind India’s brilliant comeback. The series is still considered among India’s best wins of all time, and with good reason.

Published 22 Mar 2020, 13:07 IST
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