Why Harbhajan’s performance against Australia in 2001 is the greatest by an Indian in a Test series


In 2001, one of the more astonishing Test series of the modern era played out. Astonishing, mainly because of the unexpected manner in which things turned; astonishing because of the unexpected quality of the cricket; astonishing because of how badly each cricketer on those teams wanted to win.

Australia were pretty much unstoppable then – they were seemingly breaking records each time they set foot on the field. It was a side filled with match-winners. Michael Slater, Mathew Hayden, Justin Langer, Mark Waugh, Steve Waugh, Ricky Pointing, Adam Gilchrist, Shane Warne, Michael Kasprowicz, Jason Gillespie, Glenn McGrath.

Between August 1999 and February 2001, Australia won 16 straight Tests – no losses, no draws… 16 straight wins. The great West Indies side of the 1980s had managed 11 on the trot.

In comparison, India were good (at home) but not great. They were a side on the rise, filled with young talent. Sachin Tendulkar, Sourav Ganguly and Rahul Dravid were the better-known batsmen. SS Das, Sadagoppan Ramesh, VVS Laxman not so much. The bowling, with Anil Kumble missing due to injury, was weak and they kept trying to find the right combination through the series.

India’s bowling line-ups in that series:

First Test: Ajit Agarkar, Javagal Srinath, Harbhajan Singh and…

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