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Australia now have a headache

Indian team that appeared pressured, tense and apprehensive before a ball was bowled in the Test, now stands transformed, writes Amrit Mathur.

india Updated: Dec 09, 2003 10:34 IST
Amrit Mathur
Amrit Mathur

It is like this, said Anil Kumble in a tone teachers employ when talking to students with feeble minds, continuing to manipulate the keys of my new mobile phone. "Go to profiles, move to tones and choose the kind of ring you want - shrill, loud, low, high, whatever..."

It seems someone as clever as Anil programmed the Indian team by punching all the right buttons. Which is why a team that appeared pressured, tense and apprehensive before a ball was bowled in the Test, stands transformed.

Players now are collectively on the front foot despite the minor hiccup late in the afternoon. Before Brisbane, disaster was predicted and several disgraceful things were supposed to happen to India. But the script changed - misfortune decided to visit the other team. Final result - experts screwed up big. In fact, the only thing they got right was the rain.

Looking at captain Ganguly you won't know he made a defining, criticism-silencing hundred. His face was remarkably expressionless, instead of a glow it carried the serene gaze of a sadhu from Dakshineshwar.

Yes, on reaching three figures he erupted with joy, leaping in the air high enough to better Bobby Aloysius's high jump mark. But, later, regaining composure, he wore a mask of utter humility and modesty.

And how did he celebrate the second happiest day of his career? Great jashan? Massive party? Nothing of the sort. Sourav bought balloons for his daughter, had a quiet meal with his wife in the hotel, spent time in the Sidewalk lounge at the Sheraton.

Sourav attributes his stunning performance to wise advise from seniors but trainer Gregory King too deserves credit for the captain's lean/ fit look. King says Sourav worked very hard to drop fat and logged maximum points for effort and consistent work.

Despite India's resurgence, the final word on two questions (about our inability to find competent openers and problems coping with the bouncing ball) is still awaited. Chopra showed poise to play out one session, Zaheer proved he could not be bullied, and both are positive signs.

People who think India is not competitive need to glance again at the score, and notice 400 was topped despite their two best batsmen contributing one run.

After Brisbane, it is Australia's turn to pop some Dispirins to overcome headaches. Coach Buchanan must be wondering why the computer failed to come up with the right answers.

Is there a cogent explanation for the bizarre slide which changed its bowling from lethal to paidal. Also, please shed a tear for Steve Waugh for whom this game, part of a farewell celebration, almost became a PR tragedy.

But Waugh, or any other Aussie, is not on the mind of any Indian at present. on Sunday, coach Wright allowed himself a rare smile and an extra Fosters at dinner, later compensated by an extra 10 minute jog. Today he suspended training but announced that the battle for the second Test will resume on Tuesday.

First Published: Dec 09, 2003 01:48 IST