At the start of the 3rd Test in Perth, very few people would have predicted the results in India's favour. Even over-optimistic people like yours truly. Much was being said about the nature of the pitch and with the new, young pace-attack that the visitors had in their armory, a win seemed most improbable, at least to the lay man. Captain Kumble would have rallied around his men and built up an atmosphere wherein, everyone would have been goaded to give his best performance, for the team, for the country. Thanks to all the melodrama that transpired after the second Test at Sydney, the team had no other go, but to stick with each other and show that they were no pushovers.
India chose to go into match-3 with a band of young men in the pace department, and give them the chance to perform. Ishant Sharma, RP Singh and Irfan Pathan knew that they had a task on their hands. This pitch was one that was said to favour the pacers, what with the immense bounce and pace that it was supposed to generate. And when the hosts started their first innings it was evident that the WACA pitch was not all that ferocious in terms of being fast, and the trio captured 8 wickets amongst them when Australia were bundled out for 212. That total would have been a lot less, if not for a superlative 102-run partnership between Symonds and Gilchrist.
In the 3rd Innings of the match that required India to put up a sizeable total, to give the Australians an unachievable target, it helped that the Indians had a lead of 118. But it also meant that the batsmen would have to do their bit. The openers started well with 45 runs on the board and then, the knight ( pun intended) in shining armour arrived to help add to the total, Irfan Pathan. Playing the role of night watchman and then as the batsman at the crucial number 3 position, Irfan played superbly and held his nerve, and ended up getting 46, just 4 short of what would have been his 7th Test fifty. The 7th wicket partnership of 75 between Dhoni and Laxman and the valuable 30 runs, that RP added, meant that India now had a 412 run lead, and that was a fighting total, to challenge the Australians.
Day-4 dawned and India needed just 8 wickets to record a win in Australia after a period of 4 years and a bit. And more importantly, stop that Australian train that was chugging along to record it"s 17th Test win in a row and create history, but a certain Team India, were having none of that. They beat the hosts and did so convincingly, but the Aussies did not give up without a fight. Till the end they tried to bridge the gap and came to within 72 runs of the target. But a win is a win, and India managed to silence all the critics, the wingers and all their detractors. As the tri-colour made it"s way out onto the pitch, it was a numbing feeling, as the patriotic emotions rose to the surface. The beauty of the win, was that it was an overall effort. No individual hundreds or 6 or 7-fors, just everyone pitching in and that"s what matters.
In this day and age of Internet and television, the win has been scrutinized and analyzed to death, so one will not go down that path. Instead, what is needed to be addressed is the sheer expression of unadulterated joy. As Captain Kumble said, "It was a great effort, a brilliant win, considering that no visiting team gets a chance to win in Perth." That"s the crux of the matter. Perth has always been Australia"s trophy ground, and for India to become the team yet-again-to-break the Australian run of Test wins, was a special achievement to say the least
Anil Kumble, a man of few words said it best when he addressed the overall contributions from all the players as being the most important factor for the win.
“It was everyone's contribution. I have always had the confidence in the team, had only positive thoughts coming here. The bonding within the team is very special. The most important thing was that after what happened in Sydney, we wanted to show that the Indian team is a good cricket unit. We have shown that on what is probably regarded as the home turf for Australia, that makes it even more special." That in a nutshell says it all.
It"s all about that winning feeling, that one cannot take away from you. That headiness and sheer sensation of not being in contact with the ground, is overwhelming. As one person said.. “Losers live in the past. Winners learn from the past and enjoy working in the present toward the future." And the future looks bright for the next Test venue Adelaide is where India won a Test a little over 4 years ago under the guidance of Captain, Sourav Ganguly. It was a Test match that had two double centurions in Rahul Dravid and Ricky Ponting. What will happen in the 2008 edition remains to be seen.
For now, we must revel in that winning feeling. It makes life, all the more worthwhile. An exaggeration? No, not when cricket is your life!!