March 13,2001, Eden Gardens, Kolkata- 3rd day of the second test between India and Australia for the Border-Gavaskar Trophy. India all out for 171, trailing by a mammoth 274 and handed a follow on by the Australian captain, Steve Waugh. To lose at home that too by an innings, a shameful thought.
Disappointed fans all over the country, waiting for some miracle to happen. Maybe Tendulkar or Dravid or maybe Saurav Ganguly, someone should save them the embarrassment. They would have to put a large target to win, but before that getting past 274 was in itself impossible. The Australian bowlers were invincible. Shane Warne in prime form. McGrath in his groove. First wicket down. India 52-1.
Steps in Vangipurapu Venkata Sai Laxman. Fans amazes to see him bat at no.3, expecting Dravid to come in. Kasprowicz to Laxman on good length. Front foot forward, perfect balance and full face of the bat. Ball races to the boundary. Four runs.Crowd energized.
Kasprowicz again, this time a bit fuller, on middle stump, caressed between bowler and mid-off. Four runs again.
Wickets tumbling at the other end.Ganguly out to McGrath, caught behind. But I have to bat on. Dravid joins. Lets make it big. Let the Kangaroos know who is boss. Lets dominate.
Short ball. No problem. Bam! Pulled down to mid-wicket. Not once but again and again.
Cut. Flick. Pull. Straight Down the ground. All with same elegance. The wrists, oh the wrists. The flicks. Yes! We believe. We can make it big.
Warne bowling from the other end.On the pads. Trudged behind to fine leg. Little hesitation but makes it to the other end, to bring up a well deserved hundred.
Removes the helmet, signals to the crowd. We believe!
Cross 274 finally. Now time to set the target for the Aussies.
On 196, Part timer off-spinner at the other end. Gets down on the knees, and with a lovely flow of the bat, sends the ball through to the cover boundary. Double Hundred for VVS Laxman. Removes his helmet and punches the air in delight. Yes!! We believe!
608/4. Flashes hard at a short and wide delivery. Caught at backward point. The fairytale comes to an end. 281 runs from 631 balls with 44 fours at a strike rate of 62.16.
Ball disappearing all around the park. Just a spectacular innings. VVS laxman becomes Very Very Special Laxman. India gets back in the game. Scores 657 setting a target of 384 for the mighty Aussies. They fall like dominoes, with Bhaji getting a six-fer. Australia all out for 212 runs. India win by 171 runs.
Yes! We Believe!!