India v Australia, Kolkata, 2001
If there was a ranking ladder to be created for India's most memorable Tests, Kolkata 2001 could easily sweep the charts. Australia went into the match -- the middle Test of three in a series that Steve Waugh's personal brand speak had turned into the Final Frontier -- having surged to their 16th consecutive win in the first Test in Mumbai. Despite a hat-trick from Harbhajan Singh, Australia's 445 appeared formidable. India's batting line-up dismembered for 171 and they were made to follow-on. Their top scorer was told: "Lax, keep your pads on."
Following on, VVS Laxman came in at No. 3 and steered the change of tides, his 376-run partnership for the fifth wicket with Rahul Dravid becoming part of cricketing folklore. The best of the Australian bowlers flung everything at Laxman and Dravid, who batted in their bubble, with the stands simmering and India gaining ground.
On the final morning, when India declared at 657 for 7, Australia needed 384 in two sessions and a bit. At tea, seven Australian wickets still stood, and the quiet end of a draw loomed. The final session was to produce pure mayhem: Steve Waugh and Ricky Ponting fell just after tea in the same Harbhajan over, while Sachin Tendulkar's legspin removed Matthew Hayden, and Adam Gilchrist and Shane Warne for ducks. The last two wickets hung on for more than an hour, but with six overs left, Glenn McGrath was the last man to fall, Harbhajan taking his 13th wicket of the match. India eventually won what appeared to be an unwinnable Test by 171 runs. Kolkata 2001 wiped out memories of match-fixing, and became the starting point for India's 21st century brand of cricket -- of flair and bouncebackability.
By Sharda Ugra
England v India, Leeds, 2002
This was the only time when Rahul Dravid, Sachin Tendulkar and Sourav Ganguly each scored a century in the same Test. India's score of 628 for 8 was their highest outside Asia at that time. And the margin of victory -- an innings and 46 runs -- was their highest away from home.
Headingley was dark, dank, cloudy, unwelcoming to the visitors. Yet, Ganguly dared to bat first. The guarded and defensive approach of Dravid and Sanjay Bangar frustrated England. While Bangar fell for 68 off 236 balls, Dravid went on to notch up his second century in a row, after the 115 at Trent Bridge, to reach 12 Test tons. England's bowlers attacked the bodies from the round-the-wicket angle the next day, but Tendulkar and Ganguly countered that strategy by switching on the attack mode. That only seven runs from Tendulkar's 193 came in the V between mid-on and mid-off highlighted England's bowling. To add to the bowlers' woes, Robert Key dropped three catches.
Leeds was covered in gloom in the final session on day two, but Tendulkar and Ganguly lit the scene up by ransacking 96 from 11 overs, including 48 from three. Their 249-run stand for the fourth wicket came at four an over. Anil Kumble and Harbhajan Singh then forced England to follow-on. Nasser Hussain scored a defiant century in England's second innings, but India's was an emphatic victory -- rounded off by the Patrick Eagar picture where Ganguly is seen dearly clasping last man Andy Caddick on the fifth afternoon. Kumble finished with a match haul of 7 for 159, which still remains the best by an overseas spinner in Headingley. As Tanya Aldred noted in her Wisden Almanack report, England were un-Englanded on their most favourite pitch.
By Nagraj Gollapudi
Australia v India, Adelaide, 2003
India's previous Test win in Australia had come 22 years earlier, and their wait looked set to continue a little longer when Sourav Ganguly was run out on the second afternoon. They were 85 for 4 at that stage, after a Ricky Ponting double-hundred had given Australia a first-innings total of 556. But just as they had done in Kolkata in 2001, against the same opponents, Rahul Dravid and VVS Laxman turned the match with a triple-century stand. Dravid remained unbeaten on 233, and Australia only managed a first-innings lead of 33.
With less than two full days to go, it seemed as if the match was heading for a draw, but as is often the case in Adelaide, a first-innings runathon gave way to a second-innings shootout. Australia collapsed to 196 all out, Ajit Agarkar running through their batting with figures of 6 for 41. India needed 233 to win, and once again it was Dravid who saw them through, scoring an unbeaten 72 and hitting the winning square-cut off Stuart MacGill.
By Karthik Krishnaswamy
Pakistan v India, Multan, 2004
The traditional rivals hadn't played a Test match against each other since 1999 and India hadn't toured Pakistan since 1989. Having lost the ODI series 3-2, Pakistan, armed with a strong attack that included Shoaib Akhtar and Saqlain Mushtaq, sought to turn the tables. However, at the end of day one, a breathtaking assault from a 26-year-old reluctant opener had reduced the hosts to rubble in Multan. Virender Sehwag unleashed a barrage of boundaries, India reaching 160 in 40 overs, and despite the loss of Aakash Chopra and Rahul Dravid, Sehwag was unstoppable. With his childhood idol Sachin Tendulkar for company, Sehwag dismantled Pakistan with a previously unseen brutality, racing to 228 not out by stumps. On day two the carnage continued and Sehwag brought up his triple-hundred, the first by an Indian in Tests, with a monstrous six off Mushtaq, who would never play a Test again. He was eventually dismissed for 309, and when stand-in skipper Dravid declared, leaving a visibly upset Tendulkar stranded on 194, India were 675.
On a flat surface, India's well-rounded attack then went about the task of delivering victory with diligence. No Pakistan batsman crossed the triple-figure mark as they were dismissed for 407 in 126.3 overs. Irfan Pathan's swing brought four wickets, but it was a magical legbreak by Tendulkar to bowl Moin Khan at the end of day three that typified India's energy and verve. Asked to follow-on, a dispirited Pakistan were shot out for 216, with only Yousuf Yohana offering resistance with a hundred. Anil Kumble scythed through the line-up with six wickets, and the monkey of never having won a Test in Pakistan previously was off India's back.
By Gaurav Kalra