At last, a victory after 12 years

Written by: Sajith Balakrishnan
Published: Monday, January 19, 2004, 19:02 [IST]
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After 12 years, India has done it. To beat the Kangaroos at their den in a One-day International. Ganguly and his boys did a great job at Brisbane on Sunday, making amends for their defeat against the home side in the series opener. They began from where they had left off at Melbourne and this time there was no stopping them.

The fact that the win was possible despite the absence of frontline bowlers who were rendered unfit for play by a spate of injuries adds more colour to the victory. The investment in youth has paid rich dividends. Rookies Balaji, Pathan and Rohan, who has an illustrious surname, all played their level best without ever getting overawed by the occasion.

With his unbeaten century, Laxman has proved that he does fit in to the ODI scheme of things. It was nice to see him carry his rich vein of form in Tests to the shorter version too. Dravid too played a gem of a knock. Both of them together steadied the boat after Sachin's dismissal and provided the team the cushion of 303 runs. Not to forget the little master who overcame his injury to set the tone and tenor of the Indian innings by unleashing a barrage of boundaries against Brett Lee, whom this formidable Indian batting line-up has developed a liking for.

Australians, who never give up easily, made a bold chase with the burly opener Hayden leading the way with his century, which went in vain in the end. Despite having a steady run rate, they kept losing wickets that put them under pressure. The fact that Michael Bevan is not able to finish off is a matter of grave concern for the Aussies. He is not getting any younger and seems to be a pale shadow of the 'finisher' he was. With sentiments having no sway whatsoever in Australian selections, it won't be a surprise if he finds it difficult to retain his place in the squad.

India-Australia rivalry has become a regular part of cricket lore now. Perhaps it may even outwit the traditional Ashes contests (a fact acknowledged by their just-retired Test skipper Steve Waugh). The contests have been mind-boggling and all the matches have generated great interest with most of them coming down to the wire.

The Indian skipper was magnanimous enough to compliment the teamwork. He himself says that this is perhaps the best side he has lead in the past four years. Ever since they landed Down Under in the present series, they have shown great resilience, a trait not associated with the Indian sides of the past.

The tour has been historic in the sense that they registered their first victory in Tests after 22 years and in ODIs after 12 years. A series victory here, which eluded the Indians by a whisker in the Tests, might just be the icing on the cake for them.

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