Home > Features > Moments in history >

India tour of Australia 2003-04: The Dravid-Laxman symphony, the second movement

The Dravid-Laxman symphony: the second movement

VVS Laxman (left) and Rahul Dravid (right) celebrate their respective hundreds in the 2003 Adelaide Test. The two added 303 runs for fifth wicket after India were 85 for four © Getty Images

On December 14, 2003, Rahul Dravid and VVS Laxman performed an encore of their famed rescue act of Kolkata, this time in the hostile foreign ground of Adelaide. Arunabha Sengupta relives the day they performed their magic for the second time to turn the tables on Australia.

Lightning is not supposed to strike twice. Miracles are supposed to be the rarest of rare events. Once in a lifetime events are supposed to be just that – occurring once in a lifetime.

Yet, Rahul Dravid and VVS Laxman chose to disagree. And the Australians could not quite get rid of a sense of disturbing déjà vu.

In March 2001, the two of them had added 376 runs as India faced innings defeat after following on – and twisted fate to conjure up a preposterous victory. Laxman had played one of the greatest innings ever, calmly waving his willow like a wand, moulding the atmosphere of impending doom into a magical monument of victory. Dravid’s 180 had been a supporting role, more rooted to the orthodox principles of batsmanship, but by no means any less crucial.

Now, two and a half years later, they were expected to repeat the feat – in the inhospitable land Down Under. In the second Test at Adelaide, India had collapsed to 85 for four in reply to the mammoth 556 amassed by Australia. Virender Sehwag, Sachin Tendulkar and Sourav Ganguly had departed in quick succession. The two gentlemen were yet again the last recognised pair of batsmen, asked to perform an encore of their once in a life time act.

The second movement of the eternal symphony

And they obliged. The roles had been reversed. Dravid was now batting at No 3 and Laxman at six.
In this innings, Dravid was more aggressive, eager to pounce upon anything loose on offer, building his innings with bricks of patience punctuated by adventurous cresting.

Laxman was indeed his own self – defending with élan, and letting those wrists perform mesmeric acts, driving, cutting and pulling, holding the spectators and often the fielders spellbound.

By the end of the third day they had added 95. The ghost of Kolkata had come back to haunt the Australians.

The following day they batted on as if unaware that 33 months had elapsed since that spring day on the northern tropics.

It may be argued that in this innings they were more fortunate. Unlike the chanceless fourth day at the Eden Gardens, Laxman survived two chances. However, on both occasions it had required the brilliance of Ricky Ponting to get anywhere near those offerings.

As for Dravid, the entire third day contained just once false stroke – a mistimed hook that flew off the top-edge for six and brought up his first and only century in Australia.

At Kolkata the pair had batted 104.1 overs to add 376. Here they put on 303 in 93.5. It was only a hint of impetuousness that cost Laxman his wicket on the stroke of Tea, attempting an extravagant slash off Andy Bichel.

India had been on the ropes, absorbing helpless punches when the two had come together. Now, at 388 for five, they had clawed their way back to the middle.

Dravid, though, was not done yet. He was unbeaten at the end of the day one short of a superlative double hundred. It was well into the fourth day when he was the last man out for 233, having taken the Indians to 523.

The Australian bowling was certainly inferior to the relentless attack faced in Kolkata. Glenn McGrath was conspicuously absent and that blunted the sharpness by half. Jason Gillespie was a poor shadow of the force that he was known to be when combining with his esteemed partner. Brad Williams and Andy Bichel hardly made a potent Australian pace attack. Finally, Shane Warne was serving his year of drug-induced banishment from cricket. Added to that, Brett Lee was on the injury list.

However, nothing can be taken away from the impeccable duo who came together with India scratching for runs and etched together their second immortal collaborative masterpiece.

By the time the Australians batted again, the spectre of the Kolkata turnaround perhaps weighed on them too heavily. It was the day that the Bombay Duck soared to stratospheric heights. Ajit Agarkar tore through the line-up. And Tendulkar ripped his leg spinners to get Damien Martyn and Steve Waugh.

And with Dravid leading the way yet again with an unbeaten 72, India cruised home by four wickets.

(Arunabha Sengupta is a cricket historian and Chief Cricket Writer at CricketCountry. He writes about the history and the romance of the game, punctuated often by opinions about modern day cricket, while his post-graduate degree in statistics peeps through in occasional analytical pieces. The author of three novels, he can be followed on Twitter at http://twitter.com/senantix)

India tour of England 2014

Sep 2, 2014 (15:00 IST)   at Birmingham

Zimbabwe Triangular Series, 2014

Sep 2, 2014 (13:00 IST)   at Harare

Zimbabwe Triangular Series, 2014

Sep 4, 2014 (13:00 IST)   at Harare

India tour of England 2014

Sep 5, 2014 (15:00 IST)   at Leeds

Bangladesh Tour of West Indies, 2014

Sep 5, 2014 (19:30 IST)   at Kingstown, St Vincent

More

Zimbabwe Triangular Series, 2014

Aug 31, 2014  at Harare

Zimbabwe won by 3 wkts

Pakistan tour of Sri Lanka, 2014

Aug 30, 2014  at Dambulla

SL won by 7 wkts (D/L method)

India tour of England 2014

Aug 30, 2014  at Nottingham

India won by 6 wkts

Zimbabwe Triangular Series, 2014

Aug 29, 2014  at Harare

South Africa won by 61 runs

Zimbabwe Triangular Series, 2014

Aug 27, 2014  at Harare

South Africa won by 7 wkts

Photos

Australia vs Zimbabwe, ODI tri-series at Harare

Videos

Misbah disppointed with Pakistan's performance

Australia’s losses to minnows in limited-overs cricket

India tour of England 2014: Who is Jason Roy?

Zimbabwe’s 12 most memorable victories in international cricket

Zimbabwe vs Australia, 4th ODI: Highlights

Elton Chigumbura-Prosper Utseya partnership takes Zimbabwe to historic win over Australia

Australia Australia and South Africa in Zimbabwe 2014 Australia vs Zimbabwe England England vs India England vs India 2014 India India tour of England 2014 India vs England India vs England 2014 Pakistan South Africa Zimbabwe Zimbabwe Triangular Series 2014 Zimbabwe vs Australia

Sourav Ganguly: England have mental block playing spinners

BCCI official: Tough for board to host Annual General Meeting this month

Javed Miandad, Abdul Qadir question mindset of Pakistan players

Aditya Verma: Happy with Supreme Court’s decision not to reinstate N Srinivasan as BCCI president

Misbah-ul-Haq shouldn’t lead Pakistan any more, feel former players

Myth busting – Ranji, CB Fry, Sussex and the fertile mind of Neville Cardus

Duncan Fletcher’s heroics and Zimbabwe’s first win over Australia

Archie MacLaren’s amateurs fell Warwick Armstrong’s mighty Australians in one of cricket’s greatest fairytales

David Bairstow: A champion claimed by depression

Should Michael Clarke cut down on playing time ahead of ICC World Cup 2015?

Fan of the Day

Niharika Shah

Niharika Shah

668 Posts | 6 Fans

Yuvraj Singh's ton against MCC

Revealed: Celebs you might see in Salman Khan’s Bigg Boss 8

Sourav Ganguly: England have mental block playing spinners

9 blood cancer signs and symptoms you should know

India, Japan to elevate strategic partnership

Motorola Moto G successor will also be called Moto G, leaked photo from Flipkart warehouse suggests

NGOs pursue education for all

BCCI official: Tough for board to host Annual General Meeting this month

Prime Minister Narendra Modi credits Japan with modernising India

Shah Rukh Khan to start shooting for Fan and Raees next year!

Sony SmartWatch 3 and SmartBand Talk leaked ahead of September 4 launch

Also on cricketcountry.com

Play Fantasy Cricket & Win

Cash Daily! Click here