Winners and losers, champagne and tears

Published: Friday, April 16, 2004, 23:33 [IST]
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Rawalpindi:In the land of prohibition, an exuberant Sourav Ganguly did not wait for long to open a bottle of champagne after India triumphed over Pakistan in Rawalpindi on Friday.

So eager was the Indian captain to celebrate that he tore open the seal with his teeth before popping the cork as wildly cheering teammates erupted in joy in the dressing room of the Pindi Cricket Stadium.

VVS Laxman grabbed the bottle and poured the bubbly over Ganguly's head with about the same finesse with which he cut and drove Pakistani bowlers.Ever the Punjabi, Yuvraj Singh broke into an impromptu bhangra in which he was briefly joined by Virender Sehwag, only a week away from another big celebration i.e. his wedding in Delhi.

Such was the euphoria that two most reserved members of the Indian squad -- coach John Wright and Sachin Tendulkar - also joined the fun with the New Zealander actually smiling for a long time.

The Indian dressing room celebrations were long and loud and the scene in the neighbouring Pakistani camp was a total contrast.

Old fox Javed Miandad, the coach who has had many memorable moments during his playing days against the Indians, slumped in a chair, was a picture of despair. Before the Indians came, he had spoken of his formidable bowling line-up and favourable home conditions. Both had not worked and it was time to reflect.

Not far from him sat the so-called 'Rawalpindi Express' whose bubble was pricked both in the One-day and the Test series. He had bowled brilliantly in spells but in three Tests took seven wickets each costing him nearly 43 runs.

For long Shoaib, the world's fastest bowler, and the Pakistani cricket establishment will analyse as to why he as well as fellow speedster Mohammad Sami (7 wickets in the series at 62.14 each) failed when Indian rookies like Laxmipathy Balaji and Irfan Pathan did wonders.

Inzamam-ul-Haq, the gentle giant whose sportsmanship and batting through the One-day as well as the Test series was commendable, candidly admitted that he felt sad.

David Shepherd, the burly English umpire, and his South African counterpart Rudi Koertzen, who stood in this Test, spoke of the great spirit in which the series was played. They also commended the sportsmanship of both the sides.

There were only a few hundred spectators in the stands to witness India's moment of glory but the spirit in which they cheered the Indian players truly reflected the sportsmanship that had underlined this series.

It was best summed up by Ramiz Raja, the Pakistan Cricket Board's CEO, whose head may roll, when he remarked that the Indians had won the series as well as the hearts of fans everywhere they had gone in Pakistan.

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