Time to bring out the champagne
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Time to bring out the champagne

Once 230 was reached, the celebrations began. The win turning into alcoholic holi, writes Amrit Mathur.

india Updated: Dec 16, 2003 23:29 IST

Initially Sehwag played like Dravid, wickets fell, then Dravid played like Dravid to settle the issue. But before that, the exciting twist, the inevitable stumble, the unavoidable mild heart attack.

This morning the Indians knew they were winning, their belief evident in the relaxed breakfast (Sachin first at the table for the usual cereal, fruit and coffee), and the confident body language.

Past Indian teams collapsed when posed with a challenge overseas. But this team that lives in the present, couldn't care for what happened on Monday.

At the ground, the Indians went about their pre-match routine as if it were any other day, seemingly unaware that they stood on the verge of history. Sachin, as usual, was wrapped in his own private world. Ganguly, as usual, was sombre. Dravid, as usual, the careful pro, one from the old school who believes Tests are not over till the umpires pull out stumps.

"Arre bhai, abhi karna hai," he responded when an eager (but male) fan congratulated him in advance. Being cautious is Dravid's nature, he thinks deep, considers all possibilities, looks out for the minor grey cloud in an otherwise spotless sky.

The Indians, as is habit, collectively played volleyball (the batsmen won again!), stretched muscles, soothed nerves. Sachin did some knocking, Laxman had a hit and Ganguly came fully loaded (helmet, elbow guard, thigh pads on both legs) and went through a longish session. So did Dravid, despite his marathon 233.

Through the afternoon, as the target grew closer, tension mounted in the dressing room and the usual superstitions came into play. Players were ordered to stay put, advised sternly not to tempt fate and invite accidents by careless movement.

Every God was approached through fervent prayers and SMSes. But there were some men who behaved normally. Like Anil Kumble, camera in hand, taking pictures to add to his collection.

Once 230 was reached, the celebrations began. Much champagne was poured (win turning into rowdy, alcoholic holi) and an equal amount dropped on the floor Outside, fans cheered — the religious thanked Ganapati, others just wanted India to lage raho!

First Published: Dec 16, 2003 22:58 IST