Forced to follow-on yet won

Arshad Chughtai

March 18, 2001

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Finally Australia's great winning streak has come to an end. Not only did India give an amazing performance to win the second Test Match of the 2000-01 series at Eden Garden, Calcutta but they pulled off, in style, one of the most sensational come backs in Test cricket history. This win was also only the third instance of a team winning after following-on. Ironically, on all three of these extraordinary occasions, Australia was the losing side. England has recorded this remarkable feat twice, at Sydney (1894) and Headingley (1981). Of course, the victory by the largest margins (171) out of the three historic Test Matches was achieved by India at Calcutta on Thursday, 15 March 2001.

Below is a brief account of the three Test matches, which were won by teams after being forced to follow-on:

Sydney - 1894-95
Australia amassed 586. Sydney Gregory, who later captained Australia in 1912, scored 201. Captain, George Giffen, one of the finest all-rounders of his day, scored 161. F.A. Iredale (81) and J.M. Blackham (74) were the other principal contributors. Tom Richardson, hailed as one of the greatest fast bowlers of all time, claimed 5 for 181.

England replied with 325, A.Ward and J. Briggs contributing 75 and 57 respectively. Giffen claimed 4 for 75. Trailing by 261 runs in the first innings, England were forced to follow-on and scored 437 in the second. Ward hit 117 and J.T. Brown 53. Giffen again claimed 4 wickets for 164 runs. Australia were dismissed for 166 and Yorkshire's slow left arm bowler, Robert Peel whom C.B. Fry rated as the best of his kind, claimed 6 for 67, to give England, a surprising but exciting 10 run victory. It was the first Test Match to go into the sixth day.

Headingley - 1981
The visiting Australian team was led by K.J. Hughes and the home team by J.M. Brearley. Australia won the toss and declared at 401 for 9. Opener John Dyson led the Australian innings with a superb knock of 102. Kim Hughes (89) and G.N. Yallop (85) were the other top scorers. Ian Botham claimed 6 for 95 in 38 overs. When England batted, the famous trio of Australian fast bowlers Dennis Lillee, T.M. Alderman and G.F. Lawson routed them for 174. The only resistance offered was Botham's 50 in 75 minutes.

England followed-on, 227 runs behind. Soon, disaster hit when Graham Gooch was dismissed on the same third day, within the four balls he faced. The tourists looked well set to win by an innings and a day to spare. But Ian Botham had other ideas, he cracked a magnificent 149 not out in 210 minutes, hitting one six and 26 fours. His hundred came off only 87 balls ably assisted by Graham Dilley's 56. Once again Lillee, Alderman and Lawson shared all the ten England wickets with Alderman claiming 6 for 135.

Ladbrokes had been offering odds at 500-1 for an unlikely England victory only a day earlier, before England turned the tables on Australia. Needing only 130 runs to win on the final day, the tourists were bowled out for 111, though at one stage they were 56 for 1 and seemingly, cruising home. Bob Willis demonstrated one of the most inspiring performances of his career by capturing 8 wickets for 43 runs. He took his first three wickets in 11 balls. Australia never recovered from that point and succumbed, losing the Test by 18 runs. England had, for the second time in Test cricket history, achieved the extraordinary feat of winning after following-on. The unprecedented and splendid all round display by Ian Botham won him the Man of the Match award.

Calcutta - 2000-01
India pulled off one of the greatest comebacks in Test history by recording an emphatic 171 run victory after being forced to follow-on, after conceding a lead of 274 runs in the first innings.

Indian Team
The victorious Indian Team
Photo CricInfo

Australia batted first and scored 445 thanks to an outstanding 110 by Steve Waugh which lifted Australia from 256 for 8 to 445. Off-spinner Harbhajan Singh claimed the first ever hat-trick for India when he dismissed Ricky Ponting (lbw), Adam Gilchrist (lbw), and Shane Warne (caught at short-leg). His innings figures were 7 for 123 in 37.5 overs. Australia looked well set for their 17th consecutive victory and their first series win in India since 1969, when they dismissed India for relatively low total of 171. Vangipurrapu Laxman top scored with 59. Glenn McGrath claimed 4 for 18. Following-on, India in the second innings were not in a very happy position at one stage, being 3 for 115. But from there onwards, it was India all the way. Growing from strength to strength, the fifth wicket stand between Laxman (281) and Dravid (180) yielded 376 runs, a record partnership. Laxman created a new Indian record for the highest individual innings. India declared at 657 for 7. Chasing the target of 384, Australia were dismissed for 212 runs. The last seven Australian wickets adding only 46 runs. Young off-spinner Harbhajan Singh was once again the Indian bowling hero. He captured 6 for 73 with match figures of 13 for 196.

This was indeed Indian's finest hour in cricket and a performance which will go down in the history of the game as amongst the most outstanding performances by a team for all times.

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