After cruising through the first Test of the three-match series in Mumbai, Australia enforced the follow-on on the home side in the second at Eden Gardens, Kolkata and looked set to take an unassailable lead in the series. However, VVS Laxman (281) and Rahul Dravid (180) combined to add 376 runs for the fifth wicket in the second innings, setting a target of 384 runs for Australia to chase.
The Steve Waugh-led side fell short by 171 runs before losing the third Test in Chennai by two wickets. Shane Warne, who was Australia’s premier spinner back then, finished the series with 10 wickets in three matches at an average of 50.50, including a 34-over spell in the second innings at Kolkata, where he was hammered for 152 runs.
Chappell believes Warne “didn’t bowl that badly” but it was the genius of Laxman which turned the tide in India’s favour. “I remember talking to Warnie [Shane Warne] after the 2001 series where Laxman and Dravid had the big partnership at Kolkata,” Chappell said.
19 years ago #OnThisDay, VVS Laxman and Rahul Dravid engaged in one of cricket’s most famous counter-attacks.
Following on against 🇦🇺, they went an entire day undefeated, eventually adding 376 in 104 overs.
Laxman finished on 281, Dravid scored 180. pic.twitter.com/jnhxskikeU
— Wisden (@WisdenCricket) March 14, 2020
“That’s the best I’ve seen leg-spin bowling being played, by Laxman – not so much by Dravid. I asked Warnie after the series, ‘How do you think you bowled?’ And he said, ‘I didn’t think I bowled that badly.’
“He [Laxman] was hitting ‘not half-volleys’ wide of mid-on – how he did I got no idea. It was pure genius.
“But I said [to Warne]:’He’s coming out three paces and driving you wide of mid-on and the next ball you go a little higher and shorter, trying to fool him, and that guy goes back and pulls you for four. That’s not bad bowling mate, that’s bloody good footwork.’”