It’s been nearly two decades that India and Australia locked horns with each other in a Test match at the iconic Eden Gardens, but Harbhajan Singh remembers it as it were yesterday. He recently revealed an interesting anecdote from the historic match, because of which he would miss watching what still remains India’s most memorable partnership in the longest format.
Following on in the second innings, Rahul Dravid and VVS Laxman made a mammoth 335-run partnership while batting for over a day and more than 100 overs. Recalling the same, Harbhajan revealed how Sachin Tendulkar advised him to stick to his seat, as a result of which the offspinner could never quite get a proper glimpse of the magic that transpired on the pitch.
As per the quotes in Times of India, Harbhajan said, “I remember that during that entire partnership, all of us in the dressing room didn’t leave our seats. This was because we were losing wickets rapidly in the second innings too, even though Laxman was there at one end. It was a decision taken by Sachin Tendulkar. After they batted through a session, we told ourselves: ‘This is the first session in which no wicket has fallen, so let’s stick to the same seats.’ And that remained the pattern even the next day, when they batted the whole day! I was sitting in my seat inside the dressing room for that entire day. I didn’t see a single ball.”
In first innings, Steve Waugh’s hundred (110) propelled Australia to 445. In response, when India was bowled out for 171 in their first innings, the possibility of another three-day finish loomed largely, but Laxman and Dravid turned it around with their partnership.
Harbhajan finished the series with 32 wickets in the series, 13 of which came in the Kolkata Test as he became just the first Indian to record a Test hat-trick for India. In three balls, he dismissed Ricky Ponting, Adam Gilchrist, and Shane Warne as Australia, from 245/4, slumped to 252/7.
The veteran Indian spinner also said, “I remember S Ramesh’s superb catch at forward short leg which got Shane Warne out and helped me complete my hat-trick. That was the only time when he was awake on the field. Normally, he was a very laidback guy. However, the quick reflexes that he showed that day left us all stunned. You should see the way Rahul Dravid celebrated after Ramesh took that catch. The way he hugged Ramesh, it looked as if he had taken a hat-trick.”