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Victory that smells like team spirit

cricket Updated: Aug 01, 2007 00:46 IST
Rohit Mahajan
Rohit Mahajan
Hindustan Times
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They took a while in coming but when the winning runs did come, the Indians in the dressing room leapt to their feet shouting, whooping, yelling and singing.

For at least 90 minutes on Tuesday afternoon, the lower dressing room rocked, beginning with Bidi Jalaile and ending with hearty bhangra beats. A massive bottle of champagne, the prize for the victory, was borne up to the quarters and consumed with alacrity. Team members made frequent appearances on the balcony, looking happier and happier.

There was also a scene of serene domesticity as Rahul Dravid and wife Vijeta tended to their child.

Chief selector Dilip Vengsarkar, and managers Chandu Borde and Rufus Rockey smiled on benignly, accepting congratulations from the fans, kept in leash by stern stewards with avuncular grace.

Sreesanth, the man who got a reprimand on Monday, happily signed his name on the shirts that were hurled up to him. Yuvraj Singh, asked about the quantity of spirits he was imbibing, joked that the “12th man is allowed everything.”

Indians in Trent Bridge presented a very happy picture. The scenes were similar in effect though lesser in intensity at Lord’s, but those were caused by a great escape fortuitously effected. Here the joy was unalloyed, and each player could say that he had a part to play. Five of the top-six got half-centuries in the first innings, and though Zaheer Khan’s deeds were pivotal, the other seamers played their part.

Dravid was at pains to emphasise the spirit. Not the one consumed in the dressing room, but the one that smelled like team spirit.

Zaheer did the trick.

Dravid also praised every individual performers, especially the openers and Zaheer.

“For the openers, to respond the way they did, was fantastic,” Dravid said. “With 147 runs for the first wicket, they set up the game for the middle-order.”

“It was a fantastic team effort,” Dravid said. “Zaheer was obviously the star, he showed what a leading bowler must do, what we expect him to do.”

Yes, what the team expects of Zaheer, what he failed to give at Lord’s, was delivered in great fashion at Trent Bridge.

Zaheer himself, though, expected better of England. Certainly better than the jellybean candies they came up with.

It seems the Englishmen were endeavouring to make a subtle point with a pink piece of candy — they were trying to point out that the Indian team was pliable like jelly, a juvenile prank that was off the mark as well. By the time Zaheer came on to bat, the Indians had batted the hosts out of the game. Alastair Cook’s production of the controversial confectionary on the pitch was untimely — and “insulting”.

“I didn’t know exactly where it was coming from, maybe I picked the wrong one,” Zaheer said. “I felt it was insulting. When I removed it, it came there again, and I could not take it.”

Dravid, though, said he’d take it every time — especially if the prank worked Zaheer into a murderous rage that consumed England. “If he is going to do so well every time after he gets upset, I would rather like him to be upset,” Dravid grinned.