As India prepare to take on England in the fifth and final Test of a long series, at the Cyclone Vardah-battered Chennai, we look back at the match played between these two sides in December 2008, which is remembered till date for one of India's most famous come-from-behind victories, particularly considering the background against which it was played. England had returned back to their land in the wake of the Mumbai terror attacks which took place on November 26. The series seemed in jeopardy, but they returned commendably, and took part in the Chennai Test. However, it was an inspired Indian side that claimed the honours.
The match: England batted first in the game, and posted 316 on the board. It was a reasonable effort. But, they would be disappointed, considering that opener Andrew Strauss made 123 of those runs. In fact, England had an excellent start to the match, as Strauss and Cook (52) added 118 for the opening wicket. But, while Strauss held one end up, England kept losing wickets from the other. Ian Bell, Kevin Pietersen and Paul Collingwood all fell cheaply. It needed a fighting fifty from Matt Prior to guide the visitors to respectability. India's spinners did most of the damage. Harbhajan Singh and Amit Mishra picked up three wickets each while Zaheer Khan chipped in with two.
India's response was rather disappointing as they were cleaned up for 241 in under 70 overs. Considering the batting beauty that Chennai is, it was a massive underperformance, especially since it came from the hosts. The big guns failed and India had lost half their side for 102, including Sachin Tendulkar for 37. Had it not been for a hard-fought fifty from MS Dhoni and a 40 from Harbhajan Singh, India wouldn't even have reached 240. A combination of spin and pace unsettled India as Andrew Flintoff picked up three wickets while Monty Panesar and Graeme Swann chipped in with five scalps.
Buoyed by their bowling effort, England put up a breezy show in their second innings. Strauss came up with his second century of the match. In fact, he and Paul Collingwood came up with identical scores of 108. As a result even though wickets fell around them, England declared with a healthy 311 for 9 on the board. Prior again chipped in with a crucial cameo of 33. Zaheer Khan and Ishant Sharma picked up three wickets each for India. But, they were still left with the unenviable task of chasing down an improbable 387 for victory.
Little did England know what was to hit them. When most openers would have been content looking to save their wickets, Virender Sehwag, in his inimitable style, went berserk. He blasted 83 from 68 balls to shatter England's confidence and make the Indians believe that the target was achievable. Sehwag and Gautam Gambhir, who himself chipped in with 66, gave India the kind of start they needed to bring down the huge total. With the platform set, Sachin Tendulkar brought all his experience into play and hit one of his finest hundreds. Yuvraj Singh also had his rare moment of Test glory remaining unbeaten on 85. While there were numerous crucial contributions, victory would have been impossible with Sehwag's special effort.
--By A Cricket Correspondent