Waugh ends career on a high
As Waugh made an honourable exit, the crowds cheered for India on the last day.'Ice Man' walks out on familiar noteindia Updated: Jan 07, 2004 13:07 IST
In the end, it would not be right to be disappointed at India's showing on the final day of the Sydney Test. In the context of the match, possibly yes, but in the context of the series, certainly not. Though Steve Waugh was perhaps the main reason why thousands turned up at the Sydney Cricket Ground on a cold and cloudy Tuesday, they still did not forget to cheer Sourav Ganguly and his men at the end of the day's play.
It was in many ways an outstanding performance, and one hopes a redefining moment for India's cricketing future. There is no doubt now that India is one of the best batting sides in contemporary cricket if not the best, a fact acknowledged by the Australian captain. Waugh even went to the extent of saying it was one of the best sides he had played against.
The Indians made this tour memorable with their batting. The courage and skill of Aakash Chopra, the daredevilry of Virender Sehwag, the monkish patience and technical virtuosity of Rahul Dravid, the resolute courage of Sourav Ganguly, the wizardry of V.V.S. Laxman and the mental resolve and iron will of an out-of-form genius turned this tour into a great summer Down Under.
But India lacked that something special which could have made the difference between winning and drawing and that was decent bowling.
Anil Kumble, who many believed should not have been on this tour, bowled exceptionally well and had he the right kind of support, the story of the series could have had a dream finish.
Take Tuesday's play. The man throttled up one end but he did not get the support that could have put the Australians under extreme pressure. Murali Kartik bowled much better than he had done in the first innings but the wicket was a bit too slow for him.
The Indians did at one stage appear to be going for the kill, but once again Simon Katich played an innings of substance and Waugh showed his tough mental side which has made him the great player he is. The two not only saved the Test for Australia, but at one stage even forced Ganguly to go on the defence.
For India the series has been nothing short of a dream, but for them to become a champion side they need bowlers who can get a strong batting side out twice in a match. But that is for the future. For the moment, just savour a rare Indian performance.
* Long innings Over 18 years, Steve Waugh (above) played 168 Tests, accumulating 10,927 runs and hitting 32 centuries
* Captain Australia The most successful skipper in cricket history, Waugh led Australia in 57 Tests, winning 41
* Cool dude Tugga, as the Australian captain is known, photographed himself before being taken to hospital after a horrific headbanger with Jason Gillespie