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Hercules Champions
Shattering myths of invincibility

India went into the Kolkata Test utterly demoralised after the 10 wicket rout in Mumbai and having copped a media barrage that added insult to injury. Steve Waugh won the toss again and decided to take first strike on a good wicket. The Aussies dominated the first two sessions, running up 193/1 before tea, before they were caught in the maelstrom of a mesmerising spell from Harbhajan.

In his first over after he break, he enticed Matthew Hayden, batting on 97, into lobbing a catch to midwicket. Mark Waugh became Harbhajan's second victim soon after but the real drama took place in the bowler's 16th over. Ricky Ponting was trapped plumb in front by one that went over with the arm, Adam Gilchrist chopped down on another straighter one and missed, and Shane Warne was splendidly caught by an alert Sadagopan Ramesh at short leg. Harbhajan's tryst with history was complete: the first Indian in 69 years of Test cricket to take a hat trick.

Australia recovered to 445, thanks to Steve Waugh's skilful manipulation in company of the tail, Harbhajan finishing with 7 in the innings. The crowd were greeted by a familiar sight of the Aussie quicks tearing into a fragile Indian batting line-up. Following on 274 runs behind, a modern adaptation of one of the ancient epics was dished out by VVS Laxman, with Rahul Dravid as an able liuetenant. India closed shutters on a humongous 657/7 on the final morning, leaving the tourists a hefty target of 384 in 75 overs.

They set off in confident fashion, adding 74 for the first wicket before Bhajji got his act together again, snapping up two early wickets to sow seeds of panic in the Aussie camp. Steve Waugh was the dangerman and to Harbhajan's agony, his skipper Saurav Ganguly dropped Waugh in the leg trap just before tea. At the break, Australia were 161/3, appearing certain of salvaging the Test.

But Harbhajan had a few more tricks up his sleeve. Waugh tried to deflect him round the corner once again and paid the penalty, Hemang Badani latching on to a sharp chance. Four balls later newcomer Ricky Ponting also made a beeline for the dressing room, caught by Das for a blob. Tendulkar's tossed up leg breaks accounted for three leg befores in quick succession but with the innings in utter disarray at 174/8, the tail chose to give their fickle colleagues up the order a lesson in survival.

The ninth wicket pair resisted every missile hurled at them for more than nine overs before Harbhajan pierced their armour with another fatal thrust. Gillespie popped one up to Das to give him a fifth scalp in the innings and leave India on the brink of an astonishing victory. Glenn McGrath and Michael Kasprowicz frustrated India for another half hour until Ganguly swopped ends between his two spinners.

McGrath padded up to an off break and looked on in horror as unpire SK Bansal's finger pointed to the heavens. The age of miracles was still alive. India had come back from the dead to win by 171 runs with 39 balls to spare and end Australia's 16 Test winning streak. Harbhajan Singh's final tally of 13/196 had shattered the myth of Australia's invincibility.

Australia in India, Feb-Apr 2001

2nd Test: India v Australia at Calcutta, 11-15 Mar 2001
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Harbhajan Singh
Harbhajan Singh

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