Harbhajan Singh recalls “life changing” hat-trick against Australia at Eden Gardens in Kolkata

A 7-wicket haul was followed by another six-fer in the second innings by Bhajji as he sowed the seeds of greatness to follow as a 21-year-old.

Saurabh Ganguly Author

Updated - 12 March 2021 8:51 pm

Veteran Indian off spinner Harbhajan Singh recalled his famous hat-trick against Australia at Kolkata on Thursday. It was on the 11th of March 2001 that Bhajji had dismissed Adam Gilchrist, Ricky Ponting and Shane Warne off successive deliveries to become the first Indian to claim a hat-trick in the longest format of the game. While the hosts had lost the first Test in Mumbai, they produced a special effort to win the Test by 171 runs, making a mockery of the mighty Aussies.

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Australia post 445 after winning the toss

After winning the toss and opting to bat first, Australia posted a huge 445 runs on the board. While captain Steve Waugh scored a hundred, Matthew Hayden and Justin Langer also contributed with half-centuries. The visitors looked in course for a lot more as they were 214/2 at one stage. However, a Harbhajan Singh special, which also him take the hat-trick derailed the Aussie innings and it took Jason Gillespie and Glenn McGrath's contribution lower down the order to help them cross 400.

Flop show by the Indian batters in the first innings, bowled out for 171

Despite reducing the damage, courtesy a seven-wicket haul from Harbhajan, the Indian batters failed to put a fight what so ever. Off to the worst start possible, India lost their first wicket for none and their first five for 88. VVS Laman scored 59 as the entire Indian side managed 171. Glenn McGrath picked 4 wickets to emerge as the pick of the bowlers as the Indians stared yet another defeat, conceding a 274-run lead.

Laxman, Dravid lead a comeback for the ages

Enforcing a follow on, Australia sensed an innings win. Even when they picked the fourth wicket for 232, still having a few runs under their belt, they wouldn't have imagined what was in store for them. VVS Laxman and Rahul Dravid played probably the innings of their lives as they led a comeback for the ages. While Laxman was splendid against the best in the business- the likes of Shane Warne, McGrath and Gillespie, Dravid too defied all odds to score 180. The duo added 376 runs, including batting for an entire day, to not only make a statement but winning the mental battle against an at your face opponent in the Kangaroos.

By the time both were done, India had posted 657/7 in the second innings. The ball was in the court of the Aussies who now had to chase down an improbable 384 on a turning track, batting fourth. An in-form Harbhajan Singh and a more than capable Sachin Tendulkar weaved their spin magic as the mighty Aussies had now fallen, tasting bitter defeat. A 7-wicket haul was followed by another six-fer in the second innings by Bhajji as he sowed the seeds of greatness to follow as a 21-year-old. But for playing perhaps an even important role, in the context of the match. VVS Laxman was adjudged the Player of the Match.

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