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SK Flashback: VVS Laxman and Rahul Dravid script an epic at Eden Gardens

Sixteen years ago, VVS Laxman and Rahul Dravid snatched victory from the throes of defeat against Australia.

VVS Laxman Rahul Dravid Eden Gardens 2001
VVS Laxman and Rahul Dravid enjoyed scripting history during their time in the middle

In his humorous take on English cricket in The Last Flannelled Fool, Michael Simkins, quite conveniently, classifies his life into two distinct eras. He prefers to call these BC and AD – Before Cowdrey and After Denness.

On a more realistic note, there do come certain watershed moments in cricket that turns a new table, sets up a fresh benchmark, and changes the future decisively and permanently. For Indian cricket, one such moment arrived on March 14, sixteen years ago. Records were broken, history was rewritten; Team India was reborn in the longest format of the game.

The backdrop could not have been any better. Eden Gardens is quite unlike Lord’s – there’s no Father Time on the weather vane, no Long Room, no quiet, sombre ambience in the stands – but it remains as close to a cricketing Mecca as an Indian can hope for. Etched in history – of which the proceedings of March 14, 2001 make up a considerable fraction – it inspires awe and demands reverence.

Few of those 50,000 thronging the stands of Eden Gardens that day, however, could have anticipated the action that was to ensue. Steve Waugh’s Australia had been on a rampage. They had been unbeaten in 16 straight Tests coming into this match. Further, they had strangled India into a position from which chances of even drawing the Test looked bleak.

As clouds of despondency loomed over Indian cricket, fans across the country prayed for a miracle. India was being dragged by No. 3 VVS Laxman and No. 6 Rahul Dravid in the second innings after Australia had imposed follow-on. At 254/4, Sourav Ganguly’s men were still 20 runs behind, with only one recognised batsman to follow.

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