When we talk of memorable India-Australia contests, the 2001 epic at Eden Gardens instantly comes to mind for obvious reasons. But, three years before VVS Laxman, Rahul Dravid and Harbhajan Singh combined to stun India, the hosts had registered another stunning win against the Aussies at the same venue.
Unlike the 2001 win, the 1998 contest is remembered for being well a no contest. India completely dominated the Test, and the innings and 219-run victory gave India the three-match series 2-0. It remains one of Australia’s worst defeats in their Test history. Here’s a recap of the match that had unforgettable performances by a number of Indians.
Having won the toss, and deciding to bay first, Australia got off to the worst start possible. Javagal Srinath sent back Michael Slater and Greg Blewett in the very first over, and Australia were reeling at 1 for 2. Srinath soon trapped Mark Waugh lbw for 10, as Australia crumbled further. Australia kept losing wickets, and it was only century partnership between Steve Waugh (80) and Ricky Ponting (60) that took the visitors to a somewhat credible 233. India’s bowlers shared the spoils. Apart from Srinath, home boy Sourav Ganguly and Anil Kumble also claimed three wickets.
India’s response with the bat completely put Australia out of the game. They amassed 633 for 5 with each of the top six crossing fifty. VVS Laxman and Navjot Sidhu added 191 for the opening wicket. Both narrowly missed out on hundreds. Laxman fell for 95 while Sidhu was lbw for 97. Sachin Tendulkar and Rahul Dravid continued the good work with fluent knocks. Again, both fell short of their respective tons – Dravid made 86 and Tendulkar 79.
One knock that overshadowed all of these was the one played by skipper Mohammad Azharuddin. Azhar who has a special record at Eden Gardens, continued his love affair with the place, caressing his way to an unbeaten 163. Shane Warne, who had a forgettable tour, finished the match with figures of 0 for 147, symptomatic of Australia’s woes.
With a massive first-innings deficit, the Aussies were always going to be under pressure. And the visitors showed no inclination to fight. Mark Taylor top-scored with 45 with on other player reaching 40. Srinath again broke the back of Australia’s batting with early wickets, before Anil Kumble ran through the middle and lower order with five wickets. Srinath was adjudged man of the match for his stupendous bowling effort.