Two tenacious cricketers battled severe physical pain to defeat a formidable opponent and provide this country of cricket lovers joy of a kind rarely experienced.
'Very Very Special' Laxman, who has such a bad back he was hobbling until two days ago, and Ishant Sharma, whose knee has driven him to tears in the last few weeks, stitched together an 81-run partnership for the eighth wicket to pull off an incredible one-wicket win against Australia at Mohali in the first Test match of the two Test series.
This Test, in which fortunes have swung dramatically, will rank among India's greatest wins of all time. For Ricky Ponting's Australians, the heartbreaking loss will make it exceptionally difficult to stage a comeback in the next Test at Bangalore.
India began the day needing 161 to win with six wickets in hand. When Sachin Tendulkar fell, with India still needing 97 to win, and Mahendra Singh Dhoni ran himself out in dramatic fashion, fans prepared for the inevitable.
How often had India got into strong positions, only to throw it all away!
At the stadium, emotions spilled over, every stolen run received a full-throated cheer. Every wicket that fell was greeted by a hushed silence. But even as the wickets kept falling, Laxman rose, stronger and taller.
Picking the perfect moments to find the boundary, ensuring that young Ishant at the other end never lost his nerve, Laxman conducted the chase with a poise associated with men leading grand concerts.
Every time his bat came down in a graceful arc to meet the ball dead centre - and he struck eight fours in his 79-ball, unbeaten 73 - Australian shoulders drooped. "We've analysed Laxman inside out," conceded Ponting later.
"But he was still able to find the boundary whenever he wanted." Ishant, who had defied the odds and breathed life into this game with a sensational spell on Monday, sucked energy out of the Australian bowlers, meeting bouncer and yorker alike with stoic resistance.
For an hour and 46 minutes he outdid himself, scoring 31 of the most valuable runs of his fledgling career, before umpire Ian Gould added a final twist to the
He adjudged Ishant leg before wicket to a ball that would have gone well down the leg side.
But India would not be denied, and when the winning runs came, the smile plastered on Laxman's face reflected the delirious joy every Indian cricket fan felt. Momentarily, at least, all was well with the world.Magic in Mohali | VVS at his best | Scorecard | See pics | Listen to podcast: Laxman hero again| Iffy decisions| How India got their last 16 runs for victory