After darkness Sun is bound to Shine, it’s the law of nature. How does the Sun, shine? Gold!
In 2000, Sachin Tendulkar, the God of Indian Cricket had resigned from his captaincy position due to the match-fixing scandals by a few other players of the team; but citing poor health as an official reason. Sourav Ganguly, ‘Dada’ was then made the captain of the Indian cricket team, being the vice-captain at that time. But even he didn’t imagine his first year as a captain would be the most exciting and dramatic year in the history of Cricket.
The decisive year of Indian cricket- 2000-01
When Sourav ‘Dada’ Ganguly took over the captaincy after the match-fixing scandals in 2000, he proved to be a tough, intuitive and uncompromising captain with a vision to take forward the Game to its next level. He wanted to win, home or away only win seemed to be his Goal. Under his leadership, India started winning their lost pride back.
His captainship career started exceptionally well. He led India to a series win over South Africa in the five-match one-day series and then to the finals of the 2000 ICC KnockOut Trophy. His form too was in top-notch, scoring two centuries, one in the final, but unfortunately in a losing cause. New Zealand won the finals by four wickets
The epic series
If someone asks me to suggest a test series to be nominated as one of the best test series ever, this is my answer. Australia’s three-Test and five-match ODI tour of India in early 2001 (Feb to Mar).
The 1st test – India vs Australia, Mumbai
Australia won the toss, elected to field first and led the 3-match series 1-0. Adam Gilchrist was the Man of the Match.
The 2nd test- Epic match of the epic series
India vs Australia, Kolkata
After winning the toss Aussies elected to bat and posted a decimating total of 445 with a century by their skipper steve waugh. Harbhajan was the top wicket-taker with a figure of 7/123. In the 72nd over Harbhajan Singh created history, becoming the first Indian to achieve the feat. He claimed a hattrick, taking the successive wickets of Ponting, Gilchrist and Warne.
India succumbed on their first innings and was bowled out at mere 171 with a stunning 59 by the special one, VVS Lakshman. Glen McGrath pocketed 4 by conceding only 18 runs.
To no one’s surprise, Steve enforced follow-on lead of 274, and the rest was history.
The match saw India looking set for defeat but V. V. S. Laxman (281) and Rahul Dravid (180) had some other plans. They batted for the entire fourth day’s play with the score-card flashing as- 657/7d (178 Overs, RR: 3.69, 737 minutes). They tire out Aussie bowlers, both together playing over 800 deliveries i.e, 134 overs.
India set Australia an Everest of a target of 384, on a dusty, spinning wicket. The Australians were unable to survive against the Blazing Harbhajan Singh, taking another 6-for and folding out Aussie innings in mere 212. Thus ending Australia’s dream-run of 16 consecutive Test match victories in the Test. They also became the third team to lose a Test match after enforcing the follow-on.
The 3rd test- Chennai
The decider. The series was poised. If Australia would have won the 3rd test and had clinched the trophy, it would have been another feather in the cap. But, what would it be like if India would clinch the trophy and send the mighty Australians red-faced, empty-handed, with just the phrase “Well Played.” The worst phrase if you play any Sports. Only a loser has to go through such phrases.
To such a great coincidence, Aussie skipper has won all the Tosses. If one is aware of subcontinent pitches and conditions, one can unarguably say, win the Toss, and it’s your Match to lose.
Australia won the toss and elected to bat first. Aus scored a towering 391 runs, Mathew Hayden scored a humongous 203. After the 2nd test, The Indians were inspired to the limit of the sky, in no mood to spare the Aussie bowling lineup, the likes of McGrath and Warne were bashed as they have never been bashed before. The master, Sachin Tendulkar scored a century and Dravid 88, most importantly all those 5 or 6 batsmen scored well and took the team total to 501.
In the 2nd innings Aus succumbed to the ‘Turbanator’, Harbhajan Singh who had already scalped 7 wickets in the first inning, took 8 in the 2nd innings, thereby bowling out Aussies’ strongest batting lineup at 264.
The target of 155, vs the Legendary pair, Shane Warne and Glen McGrath. India though struggled to chase it easy, finally managed to cross the line and clinched the final test by 2 wickets.
India won the 3-match series 2-1, and ever since then, the Indian Cricket team was never the same. It changed many things, but most importantly, the fans were back. Soon, the faith was restored and in no time India turned into the Prime hub of Cricket.