Eden Gardens has been the venue for many of India’s important wins in Test cricket. And on this day in 1998, a Mohammad Azharuddin led Indian side took an unassailable 2-0 lead in a three match Test series against Australia in Kolkata, with the captain scoring an unbeaten 163 in the first innings. India won the match by an innings and 219 runs on the fourth day, the victory being India’s second biggest Test win ever, and their biggest against Australia.
Having already taken a 1-0 lead in the series, India bowled aggressively as Australia won the toss and chose to bat on the first morning of the Test. Javagal Srinath bowled with pace and purpose, and got Michael Slater and Greg Blewett out in the first over of the match itself (only the second such occurrence in Test cricket at that time). Hometown hero Sourav Ganguly was sharing the new ball with Srinath after India dropped Harvinder Singh, and he dismissed Mark Taylor to have Australia reeling at 29 for 4. Steve Waugh and Ricky Ponting steadied the ship to an extent, but Australia were bowled out just before stumps on the first day for 233.
In reply began a domination of epic proportions, as over 159 overs, India went on to dismantle the Australian bowling attack. No Indian batsman was out for less than 65, and the stand out performance was from captain Mohammad Azharuddin, who’s unbeaten 163 is still one of the finest innings played by an Indian batsman in Test cricket. India declared at 633 for 5 having taken a lead of 400 runs, and leaving Australia with a mountain to climb to save the Test match.
But there was to be no fightback from the Aussies. Only five batsmen reached double figures, Australia were bowled out for 181, even less than what they made in the first innings, and Anil Kumble finished the innings with 5 wickets. India recorded a famous win, one that is still spoken about when the topic of the India vs Australia rivalry is brought up!
Re-live Mohammad Azharuddin’s 163* below!