2001 Eden Test Win was a defining moment of Indian Cricket – Sourav Ganguly
A (Grins) The year 2001, yes, but I’m not sure of the significance of that date.
That’s the day your team beat mighty Australia at the Eden…
Of course… I should’ve remembered… Ten years have gone, but every moment from that match is fresh in my mind… The lows and, then, all the highs.
What comes to mind straightaway?
That we had such an awesome win… That it was a defining moment for Indian cricket… We’d been down and out after Day III, but made a comeback like never before… The way (V.V.S.) Laxman and Rahul (Dravid) batted, dominating an entire day, was amazing… Then, we picked up seven wickets in the last session on the final day… Doubt if there’s ever been a better Test.
We also caught well, close-in…
Yes, that was a feature of our cricket those days.
Laxman’s 281… Your thoughts?
The greatest Test innings I’ve seen… It changed his life.
Dravid (180) in the second innings…
I don’t need to say that he’s one of the greats of world cricket.
That was Harbhajan Singh’s comeback series and he justified the faith shown by you and the selectors… Made you feel vindicated?
For sure… By the end of the series, with so many bowlers becoming unfit, I’d begun to rely on him alone… Bhajji’s job was to attack from one end and he was terrific, finishing with 32 wickets, including the hattrick at the Eden. What a comeback! (Adds laughing) In the Chennai Test, when we were heading for that nail-biting finish, Bhajji asked me ‘how many to win’? I said ‘look at the scoreboard’! When he’d walked out to give Samir Dighe company, just four were needed.
As captain, you had some outstanding wins, but would that one at the Eden be right at the top?
That Test and series remains the highpoint of my innings as captain… Even if I hadn’t been the captain, I’d look back with so much pride… We’d lost the first Test (in Mumbai) by 10 wickets and everybody had written us off… That we’d been behind by 274 at the Eden, only made our stock fall even more. But…
Frankly, what were your emotions at the end of Day III (trailing by 20 runs, with four wickets down)?
Was very disappointed… We were down and out and needed a Herculean effort to pull through… Clearly, a miracle had to happen… It did, in the form of the (376-run) partnership between Laxman and Rahul. The rest, as they say, is history.
Had you, personally, been under pressure in the lead-up to the Eden Test?
Not really… People had over-reacted after the loss in Mumbai… (Anil) Kumble hadn’t been available, because of surgery… Then, I think, (Jawagal) Srinath and (Ajit) Agarkar got injured… It was a very challenging time for me… I’d been confident of staging a comeback, for we’re always tough to beat at home.
Steve Waugh’s decision to enforce the follow-on backfired. After that, every captain became wary…
What would you have done?
Probably batted a second time…
Because of being 1-0 up.
The two of you have met quite a few times after that. Has the Eden Test ever figured in your discussions?
Steve once told me that he didn’t mind losing the match, so…
What did you learn from that Test?
Not just me, but Indian cricket… That it’s not over till it actually is.
Some words on John Wright, the coach then…
A fantastic person… I’ll always wish him well and I’m happy that New Zealand, under him, are doing well in this World Cup.
Lastly… Are you going to be there at the Eden on Tuesday?
I do intend to watch the South Africa-Ireland match, for some time, at least.
TOP 12 TEST ACHIEVEMENTS SINCE THE WIN AT EDEN
March 22, 2001: India went on to win the series against Australia in Chennai after losing the first Test.
August 27, 2001: India chased down 263 in the fourth innings in Kandy to win against Sri Lanka and draw parity in the series.
April 19, 2002: After the win against the West Indies in Port of Spain, Sourav Ganguly then became the only captain to lead India to victories in four countries — Bangladesh, Zimbabwe, Sri Lanka and the Windies.
August 26, 2002: The victory by an innings and 46 runs, against England, at Headingley, became India’s best in an away Test bettering their previous best of an innings and 2 runs against Australia in Sydney in 1978.
December 16, 2003: India earned their first victory against Australia, since 1981-82, in Adelaide.
April 16, 2004: India’s first-ever series win on Pakistani soil was achieved in Rawalpindi.
July 2, 2006: India registered their first series win in the Caribbean in 35 years. They won the four-Test series 1-0.
December 18, 2006: By defeating the Proteas in Johannesburg, India bagged their first-ever Test win on South African soil.
August 13, 2007: By winning at the Oval, India won their first series in England since 1986.
January 19, 2008: India became the first subcontinental team to win a Test in Perth. Yet again, the win ended Australia’s unbeaten streak of 16 consecutive Test wins.
February 21, 2009: India recorded their first Test win in New Zealand in 33 years. They also won the series.
December 29, 2010: India bounced back by winning in Durban, after losing the first Test. The three-match series ended 1-1.