Epochal Day: Test Cricket Turns 143 Years, India Celebrates Incredible Win At Eden Gardens
In the world of sports, on this very day, the world’s second most popular sports took its birth. The white caps and demeanour of this fascinating game earned the epithet of ‘Gentlemen’s Game’.
The enchanting game has lured even Zimbabwe’s former President and dictator Robert Mugabe, who had once said, “Cricket civilizes people and creates good gentlemen.”
This popular sport has undergone much evolution. As the years went by, the classic 5-day test match has ceded the limelight to fast-food type cricket (T20).
India, where cricket assumes an iconic status, almost at par with Bollywood, the cricket aficionados today went nostalgic as the ‘Men in Blue’ accomplished simply an incredible at the Mecca of world cricket (Eden Gardens), when they scripted almost a miraculous win over the mighty Kangaroos.
Test cricket saw its first-ever match played between Australia and England here on this day in 1877.
The match played between an English team led by James Lillywhite against the Australians was later given the accolade of being cricket’s first official Test.
English teams had been touring Australia before the 1877 series, but the team led by Lillywhite was the first to visit these shores as a business venture rather than on an invitation.
England had lost by 45 runs in the inaugural Test.
Years later in 2001 on the same day, cricket fans inarguably had witnessed the greatest fightback in Test history, India had sealed a historic 171-run win over Australia, becoming only the third side in Test history to win after being forced to follow on.
A rampaging Australia under Steve Waugh headed to Kolkata for the second Test having thrashed India by 10 wickets in the first match in Mumbai.
Between August 1999 and February 2001, Australia won 16 straight Tests, and before this series they beat India 3-0 on home soil in the summer of 1999-2000.
But at Eden Gardens, something surreal happened.
Australia had scored 445 in their first innings on the back of captain Steve Waugh’s 110 and 97 from Matthew Hayden, however, it was Harbhajan Singh who stole the show, claiming 7/123 including the first hat-trick in India’s Test history.
Australia continued their surge despite Harbhajan’s heroics, bundling out the home side for 171 in reply, Glenn McGrath taking 4/18. Waugh’s men looked good to be marching to a 17th straight Test win after enforcing the follow-on. India were reduced to 3/115 and then 4/232 in their second innings – still trailing by 42 with just six wickets in hand when VVS Laxman and Rahul Dravid joined hands.
The pair famously shared a 376-run stand for the fifth wicket, and put their team 334 runs in front.
Set an improbable 384 to win in little more than two sessions on day five, Australia were outfoxed by Harbhajan, who added six wickets to his seven from the first dig and rounded out one of Test cricket’s most famous victories.
(With Agency Inputs)