India ends Australia's winning stretch with upset victory

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The Independent Online

India ended Australia's world-record winning stretch today, levelling the three-test series at 1-1 with an against-the-odds 171-run triumph at Eden Gardens.

India ended Australia's world-record winning stretch today, levelling the three-test series at 1-1 with an against-the-odds 171-run triumph at Eden Gardens.

The home team were on the verge of a series defeat two days ago when forced to follow-on after being bowled out for 171 in reply to Australia's first innings of 445. However they converted the 274-run deficit into a 384-run lead before declaring.

The Indians then bowled Australia out for 213, just five overs before the scheduled close of the fifth and final day of the match.

The cricket-crazy Calcutta crowd went wild, jumping out of their seats, cheering, waving Indian flags and setting off firecrackers. Smoke billowed up from the stands.

The last team to win a test after being forced to follow on was England at Headingley in 1981.

Bolstered by VVS Laxman's national test record of 281 and Rahul Dravid's 180, India reached 657 for seven in its second innings before Sourav Ganguly declared, giving Australia 75 overs to chase a 17th consecutive win.

Harbhajan Singh struck twice in one over to remove Australian skipper Steve Waugh and No. 6 Ricky Ponting. He finished with six wickets for 73 for match haul of 13 wickets, including a first innings hat-trick.

Sachin Tendulkar snared three wickets as Australia lost five wickets in 30 balls for the addition of just eights runs as it slipped from 166 for three to 174 for eight.

Australia had won 16 consecutive tests, starting in October 1999 with an away win against Zimbabwe in Harare and continuing with series wins against India, Pakistan, New Zealand and the West Indies.

The Australians extended their winning sequence by taking a 1-0 series lead here with a 10-wicket win in Bombay and appeared on the verge of another win with India struggling at stumps on day three at 254 for four.

At that stage, Tendulkar - India's star batsman - was out for 10.

Laxman's 376-run stand with Dravid set up the dramatic win, lifting India from 232 for four to 608 for five before both were dismissed early Thursday as the hosts chased quick runs.

Australia's last loss was to Sri Lanka at Kandy in September 1999.

It was John Buchanan's first loss as Australian coach and also the first time that Australian vice-captain Adam Gilchrist has not been on a winning team in his 16-test career.

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