Let’s raise a toast to India-Australia rivalry | india | Hindustan Times
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Let’s raise a toast to India-Australia rivalry

india Updated: Oct 24, 2010 23:45 IST
Ravi Shastri

A tour ends, a bond begins. India and Australia are now to play each other more often. In the next FTP schedule of the ICC, India tours Australia four times in six years, post 2012. Australia will come visiting every year in this period. It seems the two sides can't have enough of each other.

Commerce is a persuasive reason. No other match or series has a better sense of anticipation for millions of Indian fans than one against Australia. Earlier, it used to be Pakistan but that diet can only be intermittent in the foreseeable future. And rightly so.

Australian players are lionised in India. The compliment is now, gradually and grudgingly, returned by Australia. Sachin Tendulkar started it, Virender Sehwag, VVS Laxman, Harbhajan Singh and Mahendra Singh Dhoni are now the prized opponents Down Under. Indians have always gushed at the prowess of a Lillee or a Ian Chappell; a Warne, McGrath, Waugh or a Gilchrist. This mix of respect and grudge has produced some cricketing masterpieces in recent years. Hardly a match between the two is dull.

What bat and ball can't produce, tongues surely do. Media reflects the trend. Every single word or image appearing in Australian media transform into screaming headlines in India. The IPL hogs similar space in Australia.

Commerce thrives in such situations as its index is mass appeal, which is also good for world cricket. Passionately contested games have a readymade audience, irrespective of nationality. A Brian Lara wasn't shy of admitting that India's show in Australia in 2003-04 inspired him to greater heights.

There is a sense of anxiety that it could all change once senior Indian cricketers leave. I don't think it would happen. India won in Australia in 2008 on young shoulders. It again looked stronger than Australia at home even though it was just a solitary ODI of a series.

Australia have been a great cricketing nation. India is on its way to becoming one. Australia can't be in the dumps for long. The light of greatness, lit by the Tendulkars, Gangulys, Laxmans, Dravids, Sehwags, Kumbles, Bhajjis and Dhonis can't be snuffed in an instant. Along with Ashes, or what once was a match-up between the West Indies and Australia in early 90s, cricket now has an anchor in an India-Australia series. Let's raise a toast to it.