From Port of Spain to Multan

Written by: Sajith Balakrishnan
Published: Thursday, April 1, 2004, 20:25 [IST]
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Team India is going great guns. First, it was Port of Spain, then came Headingley, then the famous Adelaide victory and now the icing on the cake has come in the form of the victory in Multan. The Men in Blue are on a roll.

Pakistan was always a thorn in the Indian flesh. What Dravid and his enthusiastic bunch of boys had accomplished on Thursday will add a new chapter in Indian cricket. Having edged their archrivals in the preceding One-day series, India definitely had a psychological edge that they utilised to the maximum in the Multan Test.

However, the tame surrender of the Pakistanis might have surprised many. Already clamours have begun for preparing sporting wickets for the remainder of the series. Pakistan tended to play it safe while announcing the squad for the Lahore Test with the axe falling on offie Saqlain Mushtaq alone. They are the wounded tigers now and will be looking for redemption at the Gaddafi stadium.

A notable feature of the Indian victory at Multan was that every one contributed in one way or the other, from the swashbuckling Sehwag to rising star Pathan.

It was Team India that was the victor at Multan. Rahul Dravid, who was deputising for the injured Sourav Ganguly, was quite innovative and he was very much a bowler's captain. Even though he drew flak for declaring the innings that deprived the Little Master of a well-deserved double-century, his tactics paid rich dividends in the end. Moreover, it was part of a more aggressive strategy where personal milestones have to be sacrificed at the altar of team goals.

Virender Sehwag was definitely the Sultan of Multan. He is murderous when in the mood and makes batting look so simple with his unconventional way of whacking the red cherry. Traditionalists and the copybook addicts are forced to take a hasty retreat in the wake of his assault. By becoming the first Indian to notch up a triple-hundred, he carved a niche for himself in the annals of the game and joined the elite '300-Club' that has as its members such revered figures as Sir Don Bradman.

Irfan Pathan is a real jewel in the Indian crown and has made great strides in the international arena. From being a rookie left-arm paceman, he has almost become the spearhead of the Indian pace attack in such a short span of time. To prise out four Pakistani scalps on a belter of a wicket at Multan shows that he has made that transformation from first-class cricket to the international stage, something many others failed at. He is a star in the making.

Old war-horse Anil Kumble's spell that mesmerised Pakistan not only opened the floodgates for the Indian victory, but also it dispelled the Doubting Thomas' who considered him a spent force. Considering the fact that he was coming back after an injury lay-off, it is all the more remarkable with him being on the threshold of 400 wickets.

Dravid, who has guarded against complacency, has categorically stated his desire to win the series that would be a redefining moment in Indian cricket history. When the Union Government gave the green signal for the historic tour a month ago, nobody would have fancied the chance of India winning a Test in Pakistan. Now they are one-up and one away from winning the series too. That's the way the game of glorious uncertainties goes.

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