Then comes the astonishing turnaround, sparked by an epic innings, offered the thrust by some sensational off-spin bowling. The series was now on a razor’s edge.
And the ultimate act of the drama unfolded within the dramatic closing session on the eventful fifth day of the ultimate Test on the M.A. Chidambaram Stadium right here on Thursday with India pulling off a nailbiting two-wicket victory to script a 2-1 series triumph.
An amazing finish to a exceptional series. The Border-Gavaskar Trophy was regained by the Indians, who have been greeted with rousing cheers as they lapped the bottom on the finish of all of it.
It was lastly left to Harbhajan Singh, the Man of the Series with 32 scalps, to ship the decisive blow. This time the younger Sardar was wielding the willow on a dramatic day, when fortunes swung a technique, then the opposite.
Earlier within the day, he had returned profession greatest Test innings figures of eight for 84, ending with 15 wickets within the Test, and it was solely becoming that he was on the finish to see India by way of.
Two runs to get, two wickets in hand. There was a hush within the stadium as Glenn McGrath got here thundering in. Could Harbhajan full the job? The Punjab cricketer, beneath excruciating rigidity, coolly drove the tempo ace sq. off the wicket, and at the same time as he accomplished his second run, the Sardar exulted in sheer pleasure, debutant wicketkeeper-batsman Sameer Dighe, who had endured a forgettable time behind the stumps, sunk to his knees in celebration, the group was delirious, even because the Aussies took their time to get well from the shock.
Men of the match: Australia’s Matthew Hayden and India’s Harbhajan Singh shared the award – SPORTSTAR
The emotionally charged day by which ardour and delight, talent and temperament have been very a lot on view, concluded with the Indian workforce members operating onto the bottom to congratulate the unbeaten heroes. Indeed, it was a sea of feelings on the market on the bottom.
The ‘Final Frontier’ remained unconquered for Steve Waugh’s men. Sourav Ganguly’s men had managed to upstage the world champions in a very memorable upset.
Dighe had performed his half with a gutsy unbeaten 22 against the demanding bowling, in a high-pressure state of affairs, placing behind the disappointments behind the stumps. True, there have been some streaky photographs, however Dighe put a value on his wicket, displaying character.
Skipper Steve Waugh performed all his playing cards, switching the bowlers round, transferring the sphere, and his men responded. Paceman Jason Gillespie despatched down a red-hot burst — 12-1-40-2 — retaining the stress at one finish, off-spinner Colin Miller precipitated a flutter with three fast wickets in a spell of 5-1-16-Three from the Wallahjah Road finish, and India was ambushed…nicely virtually.
Indeed, the house workforce was coasting at 101 for 2, when Gillespie, usually trying up to the Aussie supporters for inspiration, went around the wicket, and despatched down a well-directed brief ball that flew off Sachin Tendulkar’s gloves at the same time as he took evasive motion for Mark Waugh to pouch the sting at second slip.
Ganguly, appeared a person in a trance, edging Gillespie between ‘keeper Gilchrist and Warne within the first slip, and succumbing to the very subsequent supply, his ethereal drive being wolfed up by Mark Waugh.
With an off-colour Shane Warne, taken aside by the elegant V.V.S. Laxman, unable to preserve the stress from the opposite finish, Steve Waugh had two choices — deliver again McGrath from the Wallahjah Road finish or go in for the spin of Miller, who had been unimpressive within the first spell. He selected the offie.
And there was rapid reward for the Aussie captain when new man Dravid’s ill-advised on-drive against the flip solely resulted within the ball spooning up to mid-off, the place the Aussie captain did nicely to dive ahead and snaffle the catch.
From 101 for 2, India was now 122 for 5. The Aussies went to tea with their hopes renewed. The Indians nonetheless had a job on their arms…and in a match the place wickets had fallen in a weird vogue, the warmth was on the house workforce.
Laxman, who throughout the course of an imposing 66 had pushed Gillespie gloriously by way of the covers off the backfoot, had the duty of seeing the aspect dwelling, however noticed his pull off Miller being sensationally held by a diving Mark Waugh at mid-wicket.
The Hyderabad batsman stood rooted to the crease, in a second of crushing disappointment and the Aussies converged on a smiling Mark. The Test was changing into a thriller.
And issues turned from unhealthy to worse for India when the left-handed Bahutule was consumed as a lot by stress as by the off-spin of Miller, Warne finishing the job at slip. At 135 for seven, the Aussies now had their noses forward.
Gillespie, producing searing tempo by now, beat the out-side fringe of Dighe’s bat with nicely directed leg-cutters, with out discovering the all-important nick.
At the opposite finish, Steve figuring out the worth of one other wicket, invited Dighe for the reduce against Miller on a turning wicket — there was no third man or level.
Dighe acquired away edging the off-spinner to the third man fence at the same time as the group roared. Then, the Mumbai participant unleashed a cheeky again reduce too in the identical over, and the goal was whittling down.
And then, with eight required, Dighe nicked Gillespie to the third man fence, Steve Waugh regarded on the skies, and India wanted simply 4 now. The Aussie captain knew he would have to assault from the opposite finish. Gillespie despatched down a few bouncers to Dighe at one finish after which McGrath snared Zaheer — who had earlier survived a vociferous shout for leg-before off the identical bowler — exterior the offstump, Mark once more pouching the snick within the slip.
Dighe confirmed religion in Harbhajan, taking a single, Harbhajan himself stroked one to extra-cover for a run, after which arrived his successful blow, at the same time as the sphere was up.
Earlier within the day, the Aussies had been bowled out for 264, which meant India had to rating 155 to pocket the series, Harbhajan selecting up all three wickets, the essential one being that of the tenacious Steve, caught by Das at shortleg. The Aussies had one final probability to have a crack at historical past; no workforce had scored seven away series victories in a 10-year interval.
At the start of the Indian innings, S.S. Das selected the improper ball to pull from McGrath, selecting the ball from exterior the off-stump and the rangy paceman took a easy return catch.
However, the left-handed Ramesh, and the prolific V.V.S. Laxman seized the initiative with some optimistic strokeplay elevating 58, earlier than Ramesh set out for a single solely to see Laxman, who had initially set out of his crease, retracing his steps, and was stranded as Ponting despatched in his throw to the striker’s finish from covers.
Harbhajan Singh was named the Man of the Series, whereas Matthew Hayden and the off-spinner shared the Man of the Match award. The BCCI president, Mr. A.C. Muthiah, who later introduced a bonus of Rs. 15 lakhs for the Indian workforce, gave away the prizes.
In the post-match press convention, India coach John Wright revealed Laxman’s knock within the second Test made an enormous distinction to the Indian morale, famous Harbhajan Singh, a pure offspinner with flip and bounce, was bowling to a simpler off-stump line as of late, and stated the Indians had displayed character to combat their means again.
Skipper Sourav Ganguly admitted he was fearful when India had misplaced its seventh wicket, had a phrase of reward for Dighe, stated he didn’t anticipate the comeback even in his goals after the second day of the second Test, when India was within the doldrums, and paid tribute to Harbhajan when he stated “he is a cut above the rest.”
Harbhajan thanked his coach, captain, and team-mates for his or her encouragement, and likewise remembered the function performed by the injured Indian spearhead, leggie Anil Kumble in guiding him earlier than the series. Harbhajan has certainly taken wing against the Aussies. He is now in a ‘rarefied’ zone together with V.V.S. Laxman, one other man who made it doable.
The story appeared in The Hindu on March 23, 2001