History Down Under

Published: Tuesday, December 16, 2003, 18:22 [IST]
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India's triumph against all odds at the Adelaide Oval was a virtual replay of the famous Eden Gardens Test at Kolkata in 2001.Like at Adelaide, Indians were with their backs to the wall in Kolkata too when the irresistible duo of Rahul Dravid and V V S Laxman pulled the team out of the woods to dent the Aussie pride.

The victory at Adelaide was historic in the sense that it was the country's first win Down Under in 22 years. Under skipper Sourav Ganguly, now India has won major victories abroad including Headingley and Port of Spain. Rawalpindi and Port Elizabeth might be in line next.

People like Matthew Hayden who said prior to the tour that Dravid was scared of short balls and that Laxman was lazy might now be forced to eat their words. So too, the media, Shane Warne as well as former greats who were lavish in their criticism of Ganguly and his boys, especially in the wake of their poor performance in the tour games. However, India must ensure that it doesn't get carried away by the euphoria over the win (a point already raised by the selection committee chairman Syed Kirmani) and instead carry on the good work to the ensuing two Test matches in pursuit of translating the Test win to a series win outside the subcontinent, which has been eluding the country since 1986.

The Aussies, who are now the wounded tigers, will have a lot to ponder now. It is very likely that they may rush in Brett Lee for that all-important Boxing Day Test to boost their attack considering the fact that their strike bowler Jason Gillespie's fitness is under a cloud. Steve Waugh, who is at the fag end of his career, is likely to face a barrage of criticism from the media as well as the pundits who have been baying for his blood for a long time. But the fighter he is, it is unlikely that he will give in easily.

From the Indian point of view, this victory will stand them in good stead. The team played to its potential despite being weakened by the loss of its strike bowlers and the toss. They kept their nerves despite the Aussies piling up a mammoth 556 in their first innings. Kudos to Man of the Match Dravid and Laxman as well as Ajit Agarkar who raised his performance to such a level that it left the Kangaroos shell-shocked, not to forget Anil Kumble's spell. Overall, it was Team India that won the match. Their ground fielding too has improved by leaps. The catches taken by Dravid and Sehwag were a pointer in this case.

With this win under their belt, India can look forward to the rest of the series in a positive frame of mind. As the Australian captain Steve Waugh said, the series is not yet over with keen contests on the cards at Melbourne and Sydney, which would be Waugh's swansong in front of his homecrowd. However, India have gained the upper-hand by going one-up in the four match series. But they should guard against complacency since their record in the second leg of an overseas series is pretty abysmal. The ten-day break might just be what the doctor ordered for them to recharge their batteries.

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