Second Test Match

India v Australia, 2000-01

An astonishing Indian recovery provided several records and culminated in only the third victory in Test history for a side who had followed on. Australia were the victims in the previous instances also, losing to England at Sydney in 1894-95 and Leeds in 1981. Laxman amassed 281, the highest Test score for India, while his partnership of 376 with Dravid was an Indian fifth-wicket record. Their feats almost overshadowed the outstanding performance of off-spinner Harbhajan Singh, who claimed India's first Test hat-trick while capturing a career-best seven wickets in the first innings, and followed up with a match-winning six in the second.

Fortune had already swayed quite vigorously before Australia achieved their formidable first-innings total of 445. Their early prosperity was based on large partnerships for the first two wickets, with Hayden the common factor. He made a robust four-hour 97, hitting 14 fours and three sixes, although India could have had him out at 67 from a sliced drive off Zaheer Khan. He was dismissed immediately after tea, and the decline that followed was expedited by Harbhajan's hat-trick, which claimed Ponting and Gilchrist lbw, both playing back, before Warne glanced a full toss to short leg. When Kasprowicz soon followed, Australia had lost seven wickets in the space of 26 overs and 76 runs, and were 269 for eight. But India were kept in the field until an hour after lunch on the second day as Steve Waugh batted more than five hours to orchestrate the revival. Tailenders Gillespie, who shared a stand of 133, an Australian ninth-wicket record against India, and McGrath lent noble support until Waugh was last out for 110. It was his 25th Test century, during which passed 20,000 first-class runs.

The fact that Australia's last two batted for 222 minutes between them was proof enough that the pitch was playing easily. Yet India somehow contrived to get themselves in a terrible mess. All four bowlers succeeded but, predictably, McGrath dominated with four for 18 in 14 overs. If there was a silver lining to the débâcle, it was that Laxman's swashbuckling 59 from 83 balls prompted his promotion from No. 6 to No. 3 when India followed on 274 behind. The tall, elegant, Hyderabad batsman responded to the responsibility with a flawless display that stretched over ten hours 31 minutes, during which he faced 452 balls, picked up 44 fours with a wide range of exciting shots, and comfortably surpassed India's previous best, 236 not out by Sunil Gavaskar against West Indies at Madras in 1983-84. India lost four wickets before the first-innings deficit of 274 was cleared, but as Dravid's batting recovered its sparkle in Laxman's company, the game was transformed.

They batted together for 104 overs, including the whole of the fourth day, when they added 335 in 90 overs. Their stand of 376 overtook India's fifth-wicket record, a mere 214 between Mohammad Azharuddin and Ravi Shastri against England on this ground in 1984-85, and then India's all-wicket record against Australia, an unbroken 298 for the sixth wicket between Dilip Vengsarkar and Shastri at Bombay in 1986-87. By the time Laxman was out, it was the second-highest partnership for any Indian wicket, behind the opening stand of 413 between Vinoo Mankad and Pankaj Roy against New Zealand at Madras in 1955-56, and the third best by any country for the fifth wicket. Their efforts not only dispelled India's troubles, but opened up an avenue to a momentous victory. Dravid was eventually run out for a chanceless 180 from 353 balls in seven hours 24 minutes, with 21 fours.

When Ganguly declared with a lead of 383, India had equalled the second-highest Test total by a side batting second, 657 for eight by Pakistan at Bridgetown in 1957-58; only New Zealand, with 671 for four against Sri Lanka at Wellington in 1990-91, had scored more. It meant Australia had to bat out 75 overs for a draw, on a pitch affording turn without being devilish. Their prospects looked good when Hayden, given an early life, and Slater stayed together for 23 overs. But once they were separated, wickets fell at regular intervals. The only pause in the collapse was provided by a fourth-wicket partnership of 50 between Hayden and Steve Waugh. Otherwise, the turning ball proved too disconcerting for the Australians; Harbhajan again did the major damage, and Tendulkar, bowling leg-spin, took three wickets, including the crucial ones of Hayden and Gilchrist - for a king pair. Australia were all out in the 69th over and their record run of Test wins had come to an abrupt and spectacular halt.

Man of the Match: V. V. S. Laxman.

© John Wisden & Co