How VVS Laxman-Rahul Dravid 376-run stand in Eden Gardens 2001 changed world cricket forever?

VVS Laxman and Rahul Dravid’s 376-run stand, combined with Harbhajan Singh’s 13 wickets in the Eden Gardens Test against Australia in 2001 changed world cricket forever.

VVS Laxman and Rahul Dravid after they survived ne whole day, Image credit: Facebook/SunRisers Hyderabad
By Siddharth vishwanathan | Mar 15, 2021 | 3 Min Read follow icon Follow Us

In the early part of the 21st century, it was not good times for Indian cricket and their fans. The country was rocked by the match-fixing scandal. Mohammad Azharuddin and Ajay Jadeja were banned. The credibility of the sport was at an all-time low. India had still not shunned the tag of Tigers at home and Lambs abroad. The Australian cricket team was dominating all facets of the sport. Australia won the first Test by a massive margin in Mumbai thus extending their winning streak to 16. In the second Test in Kolkata, India was forced to follow-on after Steve Waugh’s 110 helped Australia reach 445. It was only a mere formality that a 17th straight win was beckoning.

At 232/4, India was still staring down the barrel. But, a partnership would forever change the destiny of world cricket. VVS Laxman and Rahul Dravid came together and stitch one of the most iconic partnerships of all time. The circumstances of the partnership would add a gladiatorial touch to it. Laxman was battling severe back pain, so intense that he could not sit in one place for five minutes. Dravid was battling poor form and was demoted to No.6. All those adversities were put aside in a magical partnership that would be immortalized.

On day 4, Dravid and Laxman batted throughout the day. The amount of dehydration was such that both Dravid and Laxman were on saline drips. The 376-run stand helped India reach 657/7 declared. The stage was set for an epic finale.

Harbhajan in a different zone

Harbhajan Singh had taken seven wickets in the first innings. This included a hat-trick, the first-ever by an Indian in Tests. In a column written by Sachin Tendulkar with Outlook, he revealed the extent of his determination. “A young Harbhajan was like a man possessed. I have never seen him bowling like this in his entire career. The release, the loop and the bite he was getting from the Eden wicket made him a difficult customer. I got a taste of this while batting in the nets,” Tendulkar wrote.

Harbhajan Singh took a hat-trick in the Eden Gardens Test and ended the three-Test series with 32 wickets as India won 2-1 against Australia.

Harbhajan took a further six wickets. India won the game by 171 wickets to script one of the greatest turnarounds in modern cricket. In the third Test in Chennai, Tendulkar’s century and Harbhajan’s 15 wickets helped India win the three-Test series 2-1.

Cricket changes forever

The Eden win changed the dynamics of world cricket forever. In showing that nothing is impossible, teams enforced the follow-on with trepidation. For India, the Eden win was the ray of light that dispelled all the dark clouds of negativity.

The win in Eden and the series win gave India the confidence to take any nation on. They drew a series in England and Australia, halted Australia’s 16-match winning streak for the second time in 2008. Dominant teams always had one nation that were deemed the ‘final frontiers’ during their eras of success. In West Indies’ case, it was Pakistan. In Australia’s case, it turned out to be India.

Tables have turned

20 years down the line, the tables have turned. India has won two consecutive series in Australia. The Aussies, on the other hand, have won just one Test in India out of 14 Tests in India since 2008. The belief in Indian cricket was rekindled by their win in Eden. It gave a nation of 1.3 billion belief to succeed in adverse circumstances. In that way, the Eden win changed the fortunes of Indian cricket forever.

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