This could start a great cricketing rivalry
If Kolkata in 2001 was an incredible victory for India, the one at Adelaide Oval was every bit as remarkable and important. For the first time India clinched a victory in Australia that gave them the lead in the series and they now have a glorious chance to break their overseas record hoodoo.Updated: Mar 12, 2004 04:28 IST
If Kolkata in 2001 was an incredible victory for India, the one at Adelaide Oval was every bit as remarkable and important. For the first time India clinched a victory in Australia that gave them the lead in the series and they now have a glorious chance to break their overseas record hoodoo.
This wonderful opportunity has been created by three heroes in Rahul Dravid and VVS Laxman and the unlikely, slender figure of Ajit Agarkar. Dravid deserves special status for his feat of skill and endurance.
He was so weary from his exertions that he was struggling to reach the boundary one last time to clinch the victory that was so richly deserved. At least thrice, he received balls that begged to be smacked to the boundary but by that stage, the heat and the concentration had largely sapped his strength.
It wasn't until Stuart MacGill dropped short outside off-stump that he finally produced the cut shot that won the game and wearily but happily raised his arms in triumph. This was a fitting tribute to a man who appeared to have set himself to score his first Test century in Australia in this match.
Having achieved that goal he then dedicated himself to the team's needs by scoring a further 200 runs in the game and clinging to two telling catches. No one in Australia needs further evidence of why Dravid is known as The Wall.
Laxman, his partner in run-making, would have been there at the end to share Dravid's triumph if he hadn't become a little over confident against Australian spinners. Laxman arrived at the crease at a time when the best of Indian batsmen, Sachin Tendulkar included, were having trouble putting the loose deliveries away and icing the victory that beckoned.
No such trouble for the rubber-wristed right-hander as he smacked six boundaries in quick succession to put the tiring, but brave Australian attack out of their misery. Since he got a taste for run scoring in Test cricket Laxman has taken to tormenting Australian bowlers for a pastime.
For his part in this incredible win, Agarkar deserves almost equal billing with the willow wielders. His slim build and boyish looks belie the competitive nature that surfaced on his last tour of Australia. His swing has troubled the Aussie bats in both Tests and when this is complemented by good spin bowling, it spells double trouble for such an aggressive line-up.
Agarkar' ability to hector the left-handed openers has been priceless in India's quest to unsettle the Australians and he could form a dangerous liaison with the aggressive Zaheer Khan.
India's unexpected triumph has not only given them the lead in the series, it also means the Australians have some thinking to do about their tactical approach to the last two Tests. Apart from injury worries, they have to decide whether they still want to mount an all-out assault every time they bat.
It's ludicrous for John Buchanan to accept all the victories that have come via this aggression and then, the first time it leads to a collapse, decry the approach. In addition to this they may have to revise bowling plans.
The fierce and intriguing battles these two teams have fought recently lead me to the conclusion that India vs Australia could be the next great rivalry in Test cricket. There was the brilliant series in 1996-97 that India won by a margin of two-one and they repeated the dose again at home in 2000-01 in the memorable series dominated by the Laxman-Dravid triple century partnership at Kolkata.
The fact that India has become competitive in Australia suggests this will be a vibrant rivalry for some time to come. If this is the case, the cricket world should rejoice as it doesn't need another prolonged period of one team domination.
And once Indian fans throw off the hangover of this glorious victory, the country should reflect on the fact that it no longer has a cricket team that relies heavily on one hero - it now has a side brimming with that breed.
First Published: Dec 16, 2003 23:00 IST