There are certain cricket matches that stay in your memory for eternity. 15 years ago... on this day, Test cricket witnessed a match that many reckon is the greatest ever.
The historic 2001 Eden Garden Test between India and Australia will always be cherished for VVS Laxman's heroic 281, Harbhajan's hat-trick, the 376-run partnership between Laxman and Rahul Dravid and Sachin Tendulkar's crucial bowling spell in the second innings, where he took three important wickets.
After winning the toss and opting to bat, Australia posted a competitive 445 runs on the board. The only cheer for India was that Harbhajan Singh became the first Indian bowler to take a hat-trick in Test cricket.
India after falling like a pack of cards, bundled out for an embarrassing 171, trailing by 274 runs.
As expected, Australia decided to enforce a follow on.
At this stage, if you had said that India would go on to win the match, you would've been advised to visit a psychiatrist. But what occured after that, was beyond everyone's imagination.
VVS Laxman, after being the highest scorer from the Indian side in the first innings, once again rose to the occasion. At the end of Day 3, India were 254/4 with VVS Laxman (109) and an out-of-form Dravid (7) at the crease.
Next day, the pendulum swung massively in India's favour. It was smooth sailing for the two south Indians and by the end of Day 4, India had put up 589/4 with both VVS Laxman (275), Rahul Dravid (155) still at the crease.
In his tribute, leg spin legend Shane Warne recalled: “I was bowling in the footmarks and Laxman was hitting the same ball through cover or whipping it through midwicket. It was so hard to bowl then.”
"There are a few players who tried to play shots like that, but if they tried it twice or thrice I generally got them out. The key was how consistently well he did it - inside-out or through midwicket against the spin on a track that was turning big," Warne further added.
Ricky Ponting remembered that “his work through the leg side in particular was a source of wonderment to many of us…"
On the final day, after India declared at 657/7, Australia began their second innings well, posting 106 on the board for the loss of 2 wickets at the 27th over. But before you knew it, they were bowled out for 212, losing 8 wickets for 106 runs.
India won the test match by 171 runs.
What made this Test even more special is that up until then, only two teams had ever won a Test Match after being asked to follow on.
Laxman, who carved a place for himself in the Indian Test side after this match, took to twitter to reminisce his epic 281-run innings.
The 2001 Eden Garden Test is undoubtedly one of the greatest Test matches to be played on Indian soil and perhaps the game that signaled the renaissance of Indian cricket as well.