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On what is obviously a momentous day in Indian cricket (possibly sport?), its worth putting aside all questions on whether Tendulkar is out of form, or if Harbhajan has lost it or if Kumble is worth his place in the side, or if Ganguly is worth his place in the side, or if Dravid is the best Indian batsman currently or if Sehwag will ever get a brain. Ladies and gentlemen, just enjoy the moment. We've waited for a fair while for overseas series victories and while they haven't come so far (well not since 1986 at least), the team has won Tests in West Indies, England and Australia since 2002. Add in the games in Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and Zimbabwe and you have 6 overseas Test wins in the last 3 years. Quite an achievement no doubt.
The star of the show was his loRDship, Rahul Dravid. I'm not even going to bother reasoning why (305 runs speak for itself, as well as being on the field for nearly 27 hours during the Test. Except for 2 hours, an hour in each innings, when the openers batted, Dravid was on the field throughout the game). Lets not forget the support cast of Kumble, Laxman and Agarkar as well as the contributions from the rest of the side. Sehwag had a couple of 40s and held a couple of great catches, Chopra was solid and caught well, Tendulkar had two crucial wickets and made a useful 30 in the chase, Ganguly failed with the bat in both innings but handled the captaincy and the bowling expertly (he is now statistically, and otherwise, India's best Test captain), Patel fluffed a couple of chances but batted with heart in the first innings, Nehra got the big fish (Hayden) out early in the second innings and also hung around with Dravid on Day 4 while Pathan did not look like a fish out of water, netting Hayden early on Day 1 while also being unlucky to not get a few more wickets.
Too often in the past, Dravid hasn't been given his due. He's played bridesmaid on just about every momentous occasion starting from his his debut in 1996, followed by the 1999 World Cup games against Kenya and Sri Lanka, that 2001 Eden Gardens Test, to name a few. It has only been in the last couple of years that a lot of Indian cricket supporters are beginning to realise the true value of Dravid and appreciating his contribution. England 2002 was a kind of starting point. Three centuries in as many innings meant that Dravid was finally on the centrestage ... and he didn't fluff his lines. Many of Tendulkar's knocks in the 2003 World Cup would have come to nought if it weren't for Dravid's expert handling of the middle order (and the middle/late overs).
So let the fun time begin. There're still 10 days to go before the Melbourne Test. Complacency has no place in this series. Australia is bound to come back with a vengeance, especially given that Lee is fit and so is McGrath. So enjoy the great feeling of being an Indian cricket lover/fanatic/follower today. The wait has been worth it after all.
Labels: ind v aus 2003
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