They say nice guys finish last. On a sensational Saturday, en route to registering what might go down as India’s greatest ever Test win, Anil Kumble’s team proved that nice guys can’t just win, they can win in style.
There have been only a handful of unforgettable moments in India’s Test history. In 1971, India registered their first Test and series wins over the West Indies and England (both by 1-0 margins). There was Laxman, Dravid and Harbhajan at the Eden in 2001. And there was that magical Adelaide day in 2003.
<b1>India’s win on Saturday in Perth, their first ever here, to make it 1-2 in the series will probably haunt Australia for a while. Like in 2001, this win halted Australia’s march towards a record 17th consecutive Test win. India had stalled the march of the Aussies six years ago in a match that will forever be remembered as ‘Kolkata, 2001’.
So what was so special about Perth? Everything really. No one gave India a chance here in Australia, and definitely not at the WACA, the home of pace and bounce. India’s young pace attack, undermined by injury, was not expected to make the Aussies jump.
And finally, this Test was played after a game that saw possibly the worst atmosphere in a game since Bodyline. The spectre of Sydney, the bitterness and the acrimony, still hung over the WACA, despite the peace talks between Kumble and Ponting.
Here in Perth, India first won hearts by withdrawing the abuse charge against Brad Hogg. It could have gone down as a goodwill gesture from a submissive team, but Kumble believed otherwise. He badly wanted to win. “It was important to move on, to keep all other issues behind,” he said. “I’m delighted that the team got together and did that. It’s probably the best win we’ve ever had, at home and abroad.”
The thought of exacting revenge never crossed their minds. “It was just a question of showing that we are a good cricketing unit. I’d be happier if we square the series in Adelaide.”
Looking ahead, the stars augur well for India. The wicket is likely to aid India’s style of play. And it will be fitting if Adelaide, 2008, scripts a historic twist to this fascinating story.