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Eden Gardens is one of the biggest venues of cricket capable of seating approximately 100,000 people. Situated in the heart of Calcutta,India, this venue has seen some of the most incredible test matches to be played.

Some of the most vivid images of this venue is the last-sixrun over bowled by Sachin Tendulkar against the South Africans in the semi-final of the Hero Cup. The Test match played between the Indians and Pakistanis in the Asian Test Championship when fortunes of both teams fluctuated wildly in each session. Those wonderful and consecutive deliveries by Shoaib Akhtar to get rid of Tendulkar and Dravid, the next to impossible performance of Javagal Srinath to finish with figures of 8 wickets in a test innings and 13 in a match, and Saeed Anwar's defiant match-winning innings.

And finally most recently, this venue saw one of the most remarkable turn-arounds in cricketing history. A brief overview of the preceding events should put things in a better perspective.

The occasion :
"India vs Australia, 2nd Test Match 2001 Series"

India had lost the first test match of a three test series inside four days at Mumbai(formerly known as Bombay) and the Australian Juggernaut continued to roll. Australia had won 15 test matches in a row beating the previous record held by the West Indies of 11 in a row. They had won a test-series in every country except India where their efforts to win last time around had been marred by a single individual who went by the name of Sachin Tendulkar who single-handedly destroyed their bowling attack.

This time they were determined to set the record straight. They seemed on course to win their first series in India in a long time after India lost the first test inside four days to take the Australians winning streak to 16.

The second test began with Australia as the strong favourites. A tag that they justified in the first three days of cricket when they got out of a seemingly impossible situation in their first inningswith their captain Steve Waugh pulling his side out of trouble with a brilliant century. India in a display of spineless batting capitulated and were shot out for a paltry total of 179. Asked to follow on, India at the end of the third day had lost half their side in the second innings and were staring down the barrel of defeat.

It was only a question whether they would save themselves the humiliation of an innings defeat. The batsmen at the crease at stumps(meaning end of day's play) were V.V.S.Laxman and their vice-captain Rahul Dravid. Both of the batsman had had a torrid time in the previous matches and nothing much was expected of them. However they had other ideas.

The drama that unfolded on the fourth and fifth day of this test match ensured that this match will remain in the annals of test cricket for a long long time. Trailing Australia by quite a large margin Dravid and Laxman batted the whole of day four in what is nothing short of a miracle. They put up a partnership of 278 as Dravid compiled a brilliant 180 and Laxman an all-time great innings of 281 in a day where they put the mighty Australian bowling attack to sword and emerged champions winning the duel with the likes of McGrath, Gillespie and Shane Warne. They declared the next day (the last day of the match) before lunch after ensuring that their team could not lose the test match. They gave their bowlers a chance to have a go at the Australians in two sessions the post-lunch and post-tea and try and get them out for an unlikely win for India. This from a position where India was sure to lose the match, so much so that one of the Australian bowlers went to the press stating that it was only a matter of time before they cleaned up the Indians, is truly incredible. The Indian bowlers responded brilliantly to the opportunity presented to them by their batsmen as Harbhajan Singh picked up a hat-trick(three wickets off consecutive deliveries) and ripped the heart of the Australian batting to make India the second only team in the history of the game to win a Test match after being to asked to follow-on and the match the third only time this has happened. And unfortunately for Australia, they were the team at the receiving end each time.

This test defeat for the Australians brought their dream run to an end and earned V.V.S.Laxman and Harbhajan Singh a place in the record breaks and respect from all quarters of the cricketing world. Rahul Dravid showed yet again why the adage " Form is temporary, Class is permanent" is so pertinent. A team needs people like him who respond in a crisis and when the chips are down. One of the most enduring images of that test match is the angry and emotional outburst with his bat by the normally affable and cool Dravid towards the press box after completing his century at the journalists who had been baying for his blood. This test match was truly one of the all time great matches and had to be seen to be believed. It also put paid to the voice of the sceptics who wanted to do away with the longer version of the game as they felt there was no justification for the five days spent on one match. One look at this test match and one sees the beauty of the longer version of the game that is sorely missing in the shorter one,the one-day game.

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