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India make the world sit up and take notice

Adding a new-found aggression to their armoury, Sourav Ganguly and his band of warriors emerged as a new force to reckon with and scaled new heights in an eventful year.

india Updated: Dec 30, 2003 21:09 IST

Adding a new-found aggression to their armoury, Sourav Ganguly and his band of warriors emerged as a new force to reckon with in the cricketing world and scaled new heights in an eventful year which had its share of controversies too.

Never before there was jubiliation and annihiliation thrown in such stark contrast but everything just went on to ascertain India's growing status in the world arena.

The World Cup contract row threatened to render India hors-de-combat for the premier event but the game's governing body bent backward to accommodate a team which sends the cash bells ringing.

And despite being humiliated by Australia in the final, India's dream run in the World Cup was the high point of the team which displayed remarkable resilience and character to shrug off the enormous pressure of an indifferent start and record eight consecutive victories.

For a team which was known to invariably choke in crunch situations, the 'Great Indian huddle' not only symbolised a resurgence in India's cricketing fortunes but also the spirit to overcome all odds.

The Indians, for a change, learnt to fight and were also willing to give their opponents a dose of their own medicine. Ganguly had changed the image of the Indian cricketer - from apologetic and docile to an aggressive and determined one.

This new aspect of the team has come to the fore in the ongoing four-Test series against their World Cup nemesis Australia. They went into the tour with the tag of underdogs and desperate to prove they would not serve as easy prey for the lion in the den.

And as it turned out they went on to achieve something which even a die-hard optimist would not have dreamt of.

They broke the 22-year jinx of not winning a Test on the Australian soil and took a 1-0 lead in the series with a stunning come-from-behind victory in the second Test at Adelaide.

Records tumbled and history was rewritten as the Indians for the first time posed a real threat of humbling the world champions and registering their first-ever series victory outside the sub-continent.

Two Tests still remain to be played but that one win was enough to force critics to eat their own words as India once again proved they did have a ruthless streak in them and unlike the teams of the past were willing to take the fight to the opposition.

There was plenty of sideshow as well in the year that went by - Javagal Srinath hanging his boots - for good this time around and World Cup hero Sachin Tendulkar making news on account of his records and restaurant, form and Ferrari.

First Published: Dec 27, 2003 15:35 IST