Two decades ago, on a fateful day in Kolkata, India’s off-spinner Harbhajan Singh etched his name in the annals of cricket history by claiming a sensational hat-trick against Australia. This momentous feat not only changed the course of the match but also marked a turning point in Indian cricket. In this article, we will delve into the details of that iconic Test match and explore how Harbhajan’s hat-trick became a catalyst for one of India’s greatest victories.
The Kolkata Test: Australia’s Dominance
In the year 2001, Australia, led by the formidable Steve Waugh, arrived in India for a three-match Test series. The visitors were in red-hot form, having won 16 consecutive Test matches. In the first Test at Mumbai, Australia secured a resounding 10-wicket victory, leaving India with a daunting challenge to bounce back.
Harbhajan’s Heroic Hat-Trick
On the first day of the second Test in Kolkata, Australia appeared to be in a commanding position at 252/4. However, Harbhajan Singh had other plans. In the 72nd over, he produced three magical deliveries that would forever be etched in cricket folklore. Taking Ricky Ponting, Adam Gilchrist, and Shane Warne off successive balls, Harbhajan single-handedly dismantled Australia’s middle order and reduced them to 252/7.
The Impact of Harbhajan’s Hat-Trick
Harbhajan’s hat-trick not only swung the momentum in India’s favor but also had a profound impact on the series. Even Steve Waugh, the Australian captain, admitted that if it wasn’t for Harbhajan’s brilliance, Australia would have gone on to win the series. The off-spinner’s exceptional bounce, consistent bowling, and ability to dominate the Australian batsmen made him a force to be reckoned with throughout the series.
Harbhajan’s Remarkable Performance
Harbhajan Singh’s heroics were not limited to the hat-trick alone. In that match, he went on to take a total of 13 wickets, showcasing his exceptional skill and match-winning abilities. His incredible performance played a pivotal role in India’s stunning victory.
The Record-Breaking Series
The Kolkata Test proved to be a pivotal moment in the series. India, buoyed by Harbhajan’s heroics, went on to win the match by 171 runs. The victory not only leveled the series but also set the stage for a thrilling decider.
In the final Test of the series, Harbhajan once again showcased his brilliance by picking up 15 wickets. His crucial contributions with the ball helped India clinch a historic 2-1 series victory over the mighty Australians.
Harbhajan’s Legacy in Indian Cricket
Harbhajan Singh’s hat-trick and his exceptional performance in the 2001 Test series against Australia cemented his place as one of India’s finest spinners. His ability to take wickets at crucial junctures and his unwavering determination made him a match-winner for the Indian team.
Over the course of his illustrious career, Harbhajan went on to claim more than 700 international wickets, becoming only the second Indian bowler to achieve this feat after Anil Kumble. His contributions to Indian cricket, both on and off the field, have earned him a revered place in the hearts of cricket enthusiasts worldwide.
Harbhajan Singh’s hat-trick against Australia in 2001 will forever remain one of the most iconic moments in Indian cricket history. It not only showcased his exceptional talent but also symbolized the resilience and fighting spirit of the Indian team. Harbhajan’s remarkable performance in that series changed the narrative of the contest and laid the foundation for India’s triumph. His legacy as a match-winner and a true champion of the game will continue to inspire generations of cricketers to come.