The world witnessed the climax of one of the best Test matches played – India vs Australia 1st Test at Mohali, 2010. It was on October 5, 2010, India came out as victors from a lost position and registered their closest ever Test win in terms of wickets. The star of the show was none other than VVS Laxman.
Laxman, many times in his career, has batted well with the tail. Coming in at No. 5 or 6 for most parts of his career, he was the one who rallied the tailenders around and took India to safe positions. He performed a similar role in this match as well.
Australia had won the toss on Day One and skipper Ricky Ponting had no hesitation in batting first. Australia lost Simon Katich early, but Shane Watson and Ponting put 141 for the second wicket, that steadied the Australian innings. While Watson held one end, he started losing partners at the other end at regular intervals. Watson eventually got to his century at the end of Day One and Australia were in a good position at stumps. Watson was eventually dismissed for 126, but a solid effort from Tim Paine (92) and Mitchell Johnson (47) saw Australia score 428. Zaheer Khan had 5 wickets, which gave India something to cheer about at the end of the innings.
The top 6 batsmen including night watchman Ishant (18) got off to good starts, but none of them converted. Sachin Tendulkar led the way with 98, but there were half-centuries from the bats of Virender Sehwag (59), Rahul Dravid (77) and Suresh Raina (86). Despite their efforts, India conceded a 23-run lead. Johnson troubled all the batsmen and eventually finished with figures of 5-64.
However, the Indian bowlers put on a much better effort in the second innings and bowled Australia out of just 192, which meant India needed 216 to win the match. It is never easy to bat in the fourth innings, especially in the subcontinent where the ball turns square at times. Australia had just Nathan Hauritz as their lone spinner. But it was the fast bowlers that ruled the roost in the match and there was no reason why Australia with Johnson, Hilfenhaus and Doug Bollinger couldn’t have taken their side home.
India at the end of the fourth day’s play, were reduced to 55-4. With the target 161 more runs away, India would have been content knowing that Sachin Tendulkar was still at the crease and Laxman and MS Dhoni were to follow.
However, India lost one wicket after the other and in the end, it was up to Laxman once again to save the day. He had a runner (Raina) for most part of his innings as he had a sore back. India were still 92 runs away from a win, chasing 216 when Harbhajan Singh was dismissed, but Laxman put on 81 runs for the ninth wicket with Ishant Sharma (31), who was in the end wrongly adjudged leg before wicket off Ben Hilfenhaus.
As expected, Laxman took most of the strike. Every time last man Pragyan Ojha took strike, the Indian dressing room, the thousands in the stadium and the millions watching at home would hold their breath. Laxman despite of a sore back, looked at ease playing shots. He was scoring runs at a brisk pace and rarely looked to be in a spot of bother. The only thing he could not do was run. He had Raina with him, who was perhaps one of the quickest runners between the wickets from that XI.
Laxman hurls abuses
The match was getting tighter and tighter. Laxman was battling his injury and playing sensibly. All he wanted Ojha to do was play a ball or two away safely in every over, which is easier said than done. When India were just 6 runs away from a win, Ojha declined a single in the fourth ball of the over, which infuriated Laxman. He was so disgusted that he hurled abuses towards Ojha and was animated for a few seconds – A sight that nobody in world cricket had ever witnessed.
A couple of leg byes, taken by Ojha off Johnson, saw India win the match by a wicket. Laxman remained unbeaten on 73 off 79, while Ojha was not out on 5 off 10.
Laxman recalls the incident
In an interview to CricketCountry, he revealed what exactly happened. Laxman said, “It was one of those moments when I lost my control over my emotions. It was a fantastic Test match. It was so close and I didn’t want to lose the game from that position. It was the fourth ball of the over. Hifenhaus was bowling and I wanted to take strike in the next over because Mitchell Johnson was from the other end and he was bowling really well.”
“Suresh Raina was running for me and there was some agitation between Suresh Raina and Ojha and Ojha ultimately didn’t take that run. In the heat of the moment I lost my control and started shouting. I don’t want to share the exact words, I have used on that particular afternoon. But at the end Ojha held his nerve and it was great to win that game.”
What happened next?
After a close win at Mohali, India also won the next Test at Bangalore by 7 wickets and won the 2-match series 2-0. The Bangalore Test however saw the birth of a new superstar in Indian cricket – Cheteshwar Pujara. Pujara scored 72 in the second innings that saw India cruise to an easy win in the end.
The ODI series followed. The first ODI at Kochi and the third one at Margao were washed out without a ball being bowled, but India won the second ODI at Vishakapatnam by 5 wickets and clinched the 3-match series 1-0.
Australia 428 (Shane Watson 126, Tim Paine 92; Zaheer Khan 5-94, Harbhajan Singh 3-114) & 192 (Shane Watson 56, Simon Katich 37; Ishant Sharma 3-34, Zaheer Khan 3-43) lost to India 405 (Sachin Tendulkar 98, Rahul Dravid 77; Mitchell Johnson 5-64, Nathan Hauritz 2-116) & 216-9 (VVS Laxman 73*, Sachin Tendulkar 38; Ben Hilfenhaus 4-57, Doug Bollinger 3-32) by 1 wicket.
Man of the match: Zaheer Khan