Having denied Australia a victory at the Gabba, India travelled to Adelaide with confidence for the second Test match of the Border-Gavaskar series.
Batting first, Australia scored 556 courtesy of a double hundred from Ricky Ponting. India were in dire straits, losing their fourth wicket at only 85 runs. The Indians needed a solid partnership to get back into the game or else it would be game over.
Alongside his new batting partner in VVS Laxman, Rahul Dravid went about his business. The pair were patient against the Australian bowlers, capitalising on anything with width to keep the scoreboard ticking. Laxman reached his half-century late on Day 2 as India finished the day’s play at 4-180, trailing Australia’s 556 by 376 runs.
Laxman and Dravid continued their patient method as the Australian bowlers were having a tough time cracking the duo. The result of this would lead to more loose deliveries, and Steve Waugh was starting to feel the pressure. The Australian attack of Stuart MacGill, Jason Gillespie, Andy Bichel and Brad Williams had no answer to the Indian pair. After lunch, both batsmen reached their centuries as India was fighting back hard.
Both batsmen were looking flawless at the crease until Laxman was caught behind for 148 on the stroke of tea. The 303-run stand that had lasted for 564 balls had come to an end, courtesy of Andy Bichel. With India still behind by more than 150 runs, Dravid couldn’t afford to give his wicket away. Partnerships with Parthiv Patel (31) and Ajit Agarkar (11) would see Dravid finish Day 3 on 199 not out, with India 7-477.
On the first ball of Day 4, Dravid drove MacGill through square for a boundary to reach his double hundred. Dravid would end up scoring 233 and was the last man out as India were bowled out for 523. Ajit Agarkar would take six wickets with the ball as Australia were bowled out for 196. Dravid would shine with the bat again in the second innings, scoring 72 not out as India won by four wickets.
From 4-85, Dravid and Laxman put on a mammoth partnership to get India back into this Test. The pair dug India out of a hole and put India in a position where they could think of winning again. Kolkata 2001 was a miracle, considering how rarely teams win from following on. But this rescue act by the duo was just as important as it led to India pulling off one of their best overseas Test victories.
Sure, not having Shane Warne, Brett Lee and Glenn McGrath helped India. But Australia still had a capable bowling attack that could’ve restricted India to less than 350. Laxman and Dravid were too good in that Test and outsmarted a good bowling attack.
This was one of the great things about Sourav Ganguly’s India. These players were mentally tough and were willing to fight until the end against the opposition.
Ganguly took over the reins when India was going through its darkest phase following the spot/match-fixing scandal and gave Indian fans many moments to cheer about during his period as captain.
For Steve Waugh, this would be the second Test loss against India that went away, considering how Australia were dominating India before Dravid and Laxman paired up with the bat.
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