‘India deserve to be No. 1’ | cricket | Hindustan Times
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‘India deserve to be No. 1’

It was a dream, an aspiration. One of the goals coach Gary Kirsten had set for Team India. But the former South African opener believes the team was never obsessed by the mere end, reports HT Correspondent.

cricket Updated: Dec 06, 2009 01:12 IST
HT Correspondent

It was a dream, an aspiration. One of the goals coach Gary Kirsten had set for Team India. But the former South African opener believes the team was never obsessed by the mere end.

“We did set ourselves that goal 18 months ago,” Kirsten said of India’s bid to end the year as the No. 1 Test team. “And that was that. We did not consciously work towards it, but focused on what we needed to do on a daily basis.”

Sri Lankan captain Kumar Sangakkara made sure the champagne remained on ice for the night at least, as he scored a defiant unbeaten 133 to take his team to 274 for six on the fourth day in Mumbai.

“It will be a great achievement if we do it tomorrow,” added Kirsten. “This is a very good Test team, full of individuals who push for success as a team. It's been a great last 18 months, the batsmen have stood up to be counted and the bowlers have done the job when they needed to.”

The coach also praised his bowling attack for putting India in a strong position going into the deciding day. “They bowled well as a unit. In the first session we kept it tight, trying to put the batsmen under pressure. We created the opportunities and got the result in the second session, when they lost four wickets.”

Sri Lanka’s assistant coach, Stuart Law refused to believe that defeat was inevitable. “The match is still headed for a great finish,” he said. “We gave a good fight today. But India deserve the No.1 status. Playing them in their own backyard is one of the most difficult prospects. The Indian tour presents a unique challenge, the kind of pitches we play on here are very different from any other place and Indian players have mastered it.”

It is, however, an incomplete assessment. With Test wins in Australia, South Africa, West Indies and New Zealand, in recent times, India's success has spread well beyond home soil.