After getting the first of his five wickets, Anil Kumble threw his head back, fisted the air, and howled. Or appeared to howl.
After his fourth (Adam Gilchrist), India’s captain was practically dancing a jig. It was a wonderful moment, and a wonderful feeling to be Indian in Melbourne — as Kumble put it himself after close of play, “It was on the first day, Boxing Day, MCG, first match of the series. It’s very special.”
India surpassed the expectations of most on Day 1 of the toughest tour in international cricket. The mental strength and commitment of purpose they demonstrated in pushing Australia from 135 for no loss after lunch to 213/3 at tea and 337/9 at close, was heartwarming. “To make the comeback that we did was quite exceptional,” Kumble said.
A somewhat dazed Matthew Hayden — who stood tall with a typically dominating 124 — later insisted the wicket was difficult. “It’s very, very hard to score on, and it will remain so over the next three days,” he said. The Aussies appeared understandably subdued — the last time their entire team had had to come out to bat on the same day was a year ago, in the third Ashes Test in Perth.
Generating extra excitement — and some agitation — at the MCG was a streaker who ran on to the field with the Indian flag draped over his shoulders. The man was brought down by security, wrapped in the flag and taken off.