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Back from the Dead - India vs Australia, 2000-01
3 September 2005

When Steve Waugh’s Australian team arrived in India they were on a mission – a mission to conquer their final frontier and to prove beyond all doubt that they could beat anyone anywhere. But they were met by a talented Indian side who hadn’t been properly briefed on the Australian script. India until then, and probably since then as well, was known to crumble quite easily when under pressure. And when India had been beaten by 10 wickets in the first match at Mumbai, and were following on 274 behind Australia in the second test at Kolkata, the final frontier was all but conquered. But then the tide turned, and the Indians put together a series of Comebacks that helped them achieve what few believed they could.

Four down in the 2nd innings and still in arrears, and then came the partnership that every Indian watched, or claims to have watched! Dravid and Laxman put on 376 sublime runs as India put together Comeback Number 1. Chasing an improbably 384 to win in less than a day Australia were looking comfortable at 161/3 when Harbhajan Singh and Sachin Tendulkar picked up the remaining 7 wickets in just under 20 overs and India had staged Comeback Number 2 and had leveled the series. And for only the third time in test history had a team won a test after following-on. Remarkably Australia was at the wrong end at each of these 3 occasions.

But there was more to come. In the third test Australia batted first and was at 326/3 at the end of Day 1. Comeback Number 3 and that man Harbhajan restricted them to 391. India managed a 110 run first inning lead inspired by the talismanic Sachin Tendulkar and was set an apparently gettable 155 to win in the fourth innings. They just about got there with 2 wickets to spare and had set the record for the highest 4th innings winning score at Chennai.

Having been 1-0 down and following on, India clawed their way back to win this enthralling series. Harbhajan Singh took 28 wickets in the last 2 matches, VVS Laxman had scored India’s highest individual score, and Mathew Hayden had arrived at the international stage but what mattered was that Australia’s final frontier remained unconquered, and for a while at least India began to believe that they could win despite the odds.

I submitted this article to CricInfo and it was published in one of their Reader's response columns on September 6th, 2005. Click here to see it on CricInfo.
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