Chappell predicts a clean sweep for India

Published: Friday, April 2, 2004, 18:40 [IST]
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New Delhi:India could complete a clean sweep in the ongoing three-Test series in Pakistan after their historic victory in the opening match, former Australian captain Ian Chappell has said in a column.

India won on --Thursday by an innings and 52 runs in the first match at Multan for their maiden Test triumph in Pakistan, triggering celebrations in the cricket-crazy country.

"India are currently as dangerous as a bubbling volcano and if the team erupts again in Lahore (venue for the second Test), they could easily win the series three-nil," Chappell wrote in his column in the Hindustan Times.

"There is now a spirit and determination about this Indian team that is second only to Australia in world cricket. Like all strong cricket teams, India are coping with setbacks."

India went to Pakistan without key off-spinner Harbhajan Singh, who was ruled out due to a finger injury.

The tourists lost captain Sourav Ganguly before the opening Test because of a back injury and left-arm fast bowler Zaheer Khan (hamstring) after the first innings of the match.

"There are not many sides that could overcome the loss of their captain and not even miss a beat, but India performed at a high level throughout the first Test," Chappell said.

He praised stand-in India captain Rahul Dravid, saying he had set the tone and established the team priority by declaring with Sachin Tendulkar just short of his second successive double-century.

"This was the correct decision as it showed his team, a blending of youth and experience, that victory rather than personal milestones is the ultimate prize," he said.

Tendulkar, who scored a double-century in the last Test in Australia early this year, was unbeaten on 194 before India declared their first innings closed at Multan.

Former India captain Sunil Gavaskar also lauded Dravid's captaincy, saying he was innovative and never eased the pressure on Pakistan.

"He never missed a trick and his handling of the team, the planning, the bowling changes, the field placements, was spot on," he said.

"Rahul and the boys have done us old fogies proud and fulfilled our dreams and if they go on to win the series, the entire Indian cricketing community will be eternally grateful."

Former Pakistan captain Imran Khan, writing in the Times of India, blamed his team's "negative" approach for the debacle, saying the home side perished because they panicked.

"The Pakistan team got exactly what they deserved," he wrote.

"They thought if they played on a grassy wicket, their batsmen would not be able to handle talented Indian left-arm bowler (Irfan Pathan). As a result, they got the grass shaved off on the eve of the first Test. It was a senseless, negative move. Pace is this Pakistan team's greatest strength and once they denied the fast men a helpful wicket, Multan was a lost cause."

Meanwhile, Indian cricketers grabbed front-page headlines in newspapers after their memorable win.

"V-Day arrives after 50 years," screamed a Times of India headline separating two pictures of celebrating cricketers.

The Hindustan Times carried a picture of jubilant players under the headline "HISTORYMAKERS".

"Picture perfect," said the Indian Express, showing cricketers in a picture with a caption "India win a Test in Pakistan, for the very first time. Multan, April 1, 2004, 10:38 am."

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