In this edition of the eight of the most eventful Tests played between the two countries in India over the past half-century, Partab Ramchand takes a look at the 2001 Chennai Test which the Indians won by India won by two wickets and the series 2-1.
With India pulling off an incredible triumph at the Eden Gardens the teams came to the MA Chidambaram stadium a few days later with everything to play for and the match provided a fitting finale to arguably the greatest Test series India has figured in.
Steve Waugh won the toss for the third successive Test and Australia made all the early moves. The inform Matthew Hayden and Mark Waugh (70) put on 150 runs for the third wicket and this was followed by a fourth wicket partnership of 123 runs between Hayden and Steve Waugh.
The turning point came with the rare dismissal of the Australian captain who was given out handled the ball when on 47. Hayden went on to get 203 but could do little to avert a sharp collapse with Harbhajan (seven for 133) being the wrecker-in-chief as Australia were restricted to 391.
India’s openers Shiv Sundar Das (84) and Sadagoppan Ramesh (61) put on 123 runs and the in form VVS Laxman followed with a delectable 65. But the partnership that really put India on top was the 169-run fifth wicket stand between Sachin Tendulkar and Rahul Dravid (81). Tendulkar went on to get 126 taking a heavy toll of Shane Warne. India ultimately posted a total of 501.
The Australian second innings was marked by valuable contributions from the top and middle order but Harbhajan kept chipping away at regular intervals and he finished with eight for 84 giving him 15 for the match and 32 for the series.
The Australian second innings total of 264 meant that India had to get 155 runs for victory. With Laxman (66) again in splendid form the Indians were romping home at 101 for two. But the Australians to their credit fought to the last and suddenly every run became an effort. Wickets too fell at regular intervals and suddenly the situation became tense for the near capacity crowd at the MA Chidambaram stadium. India lost their sixth and seventh wickets at 135 and the eighth fell at 151.
But wicket keeper Samir Dighe in the company of Harbhajan saw India through to the victory target and fittingly it was the off spinner who made the winning runs. India against all expectations had won the series 2-1 leaving Steve Waugh’s hopes of conquering the final frontier in tatters.