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Brave declaration of independence

Rahul Dravid's controversial declaration in the first Test was an important part of taking Indian cricket to the next level, write Ian Chappell
PTI | By Ian Chappell
UPDATED ON APR 03, 2004 12:11 AM IST

Rahul Dravid's controversial declaration in the first Test was an important part of taking Indian cricket to the next level.

It was a declaration to his players and the fans that winning the match was the prime objective of the team and came ahead of personal milestones.

It was the sort of gesture that wouldn't have even raised an eyebrow in Australia where skipper Bill Lawry once declared on a young Rodney Marsh who was on 92 and at the time hadn't scored a Test century. Dravid's bold move was an important step for India to take in their quest to unseat Ricky Ponting's side from the champion's throne.

If Dravid's declaration, which I'm sure was done with Sourav Ganguly's approval, upset any of the statistically minded fans then it is appropriate to point out that Sachin Tendulkar had ample time to score his double century.

The fact that Tendulkar is such a superstar in Indian cricket and was on the brink of scoring a double century in successive Tests makes the act even braver and more important to Indian cricket. It will have left an indelible impression on the younger members of the team who appear to be imbued with a winning attitude and the older brigade having grown up in a different culture will now not be in any doubt about the priorities of the side.

For those people with 20/20 hindsight who are now saying Dravid could have delayed the declaration a few minutes as India won with ample time to spare, they completely miss the point. The big difference between the Indian and Australian attitude has always been that for one it was a matter of individual performance while the other coveted team success. If India lost a match and Tendulkar scored a century most of India rejoiced. If Australia won a Test and Steve Waugh made a duck the nation was happy.

Following Dravid's declaration that is no longer a point of differentiation and consequently India has moved closer to their objective of challenging Australia.

Any Indian fan who is having trouble coming to grips with their superstar having his pedestal kicked out from under his feet I have the following advice. If India beat Australia in the Test series later this year it will be a triumph of spirit and determination.

Just remember when you are celebrating what would be a tremendous victory for India that the rewards you are reaping are a direct result of the seed that was sown in Multan by Dravid's brave declaration of independence.

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