India vs Australia: No other team in last 5 or 6 years, has outplayed India in Test cricket on its soil like Steven Smith-led Australia did on Friday. The spinners made Indian batsmen dance to their tunes, fast bowlers picked up crucial wickets and the batsmen totally out-batted the Indian clique. By the end of the day, Aussies had taken a lead of 298 runs on a buffing wicket which according to Ravi Shastri needs to visit a dermatologist. With 6 wickets left and captain Steven Smith still out in the middle, most experts have analysts have already written out India but in cricket, you can never decide a winner until the last ball is bowled.
The history reckons, all is not lost for the Indian cricket team, at least VVS Laxman sitting in the commentary box would think so. India was in a similar situation against a much stronger Australian side including the likes of Mathew Hayden, Micahel Slater, Steve Waugh, Mark Waugh, Adam Gilchrist and Shane Warne. After putting 445 runs on board batting first, visitors restricted India to a paltry total of 171 runs with Glen McGrath picking up 4 wickets.
When Steve Waugh enforced the follow on, even the most optimistic fans thought India is heading towards another heavy defeated but what followed changed Indian cricket forever. Sadgopan Ramesh and Shiv Sundar das added 52 runs for the first wicket and in a surprising move, ‘Very Very Special’ Laxman was promoted to number 3 ahead of Rahul Dravid and Sachin Tendulkar. He went on to play a marathon innings of 281 runs from 452 balls and added 376 runs with Rahul Dravid (180) for the fifth wicket.
Watch KL Rahul acknowledging the crowd after scoring a fifty:
Before the Aussies would have realised India had scored 657 runs for the loss of 7 wickets. At one stage, the hosts were looking to save the game but suddenly Sourav Ganguly declared the innings setting a target of 384 runs which was a clear indication that India won’t settle for anything less than a win. A 21-year-old off-spinner then turned the game on its head, sending 6 Australian batsmen back in the hut scripting one of the most memorable wins for India in Test cricket. He is now known as Harbhajan ‘Turbonator’ Singh. What looked like a distant dream, was turned into a reality as the Men in Blue shattered the ego of Steve Waugh’s boys.
The faith in the sport which was lost due to the match-fixing scandal was restored with that victory as millions of fans enjoyed that historic moment. When Virat Kohli and team will take the field at Pune on Day 3, they will be under a lot of pressure to save the match but at the same time, will have the opportunity to add another page in the glorious book of Indian cricket’s history.
The question, however, remains who can pull off a Laxman at Maharashtra Cricket Stadium? Will it be determined Cheteshwar Pujara or industrious Ajinkya Rahane? Will it be an elegant KL Rahul or the dashing Murali Vijay? Maybe, on this wicket, India will need a little more than Laxman special, maybe they will need an eccentric Virat Kohli.