Vantage point

Monday, January 05, 2004


For over a year now I have been writing about cricket on my blog. I started doing so mainly at the insistence of Satyen, a month or so before the World Cup. It is only after I started writing on my blog about the game that I realized what a staunch fan I have become of the Indian team under Saurav Ganguly. In the Azhar days, I was a fan of Sachin Tendulkar, and that was equivalent of being a fan of the Indian cricket team. However over the past 3 years or so, this team has shown character, gumption, and a hunger to win. Somewhere along the line, maybe a few months after the 2001 Calcutta test, when subsequent performances showed that the win was not a fluke, I transformed into being first a fan of the Indian team and then a fan of Sachin Tendulkar. Which is why his string of low scores never bothered me much. If you are a fan of the Indian cricket team, a position of 1-1 going into the last test is like a dream come true. Who cares if Sachin had even gotten 5 successive ducks.

However now a more appealing dream is set to turn to reality. A series win in Australia, which I have always rated as the ultimate prize in cricket, manifold greater than the World Cup.Can we make the leap? In my series preview I had written that we will most probably draw the series 2-2, with wins at Adelaide and Sydney. I had doubted whether our team was ready for the mental leap of a series win. All this was based on the premise that every test will end in a result. The rains in Brisbane changed all that and we can actually win it. However the mental leap factor is still there.

What stops India from winning tomorrow is the same thing that stopped them from winning the World Cup. No, not necessarily the Aussie batting lineup, but the demons within their own minds. It was the inability to turn the screws and seal a victory. Defeats in cricket are inevitable. But I would rather that our team lost tests like Melbourne, rather than the one at Lords against England last year. Go down fighting, and you will rarely go down. Our bowlers tomorrow will have to do what our batsmen did on the last day in Adelaide. Say to themselves �Now is the time we gatecrash the frontpages of newspapers all over the cricketing world�. The newspapers of 17th December 2003 showed a triumphant Rahul Dravid embracing victory. Let the 7th January 2004 papers feature a bowler. As of now, the most likely candidate would seem to be the bowler who got 8 wickets in the first inning, the best bowling performance by an Indian bowler overseas.

Before the Sydney test, while talking to Sunil, I said �Series wins don�t happen due to individual brilliance or teamwork. They happen when the whole team, at some point or another, delivers individual brilliance. So far we have had 6 players putting in their career best(not statswise) performances � Sehwag, Dravid, Ganguly, Laxman, Zaheer and Agarkar. If only Kumble, Nehra and Tendulkar come to the party as well, we can wrap it up in Sydney�. Tendulkar did his part, chalking up a total of 302 runs in the test without being dismissed even once. Now it is up to Kumble to finish it off with another plunder in the second innings. Murali Karthik will also have an opportunity to show if he truly deserves to be called a 21st century Indian cricketer (whose hallmark has been coming back from adversity to snatch glory).

This Indian team is on its way to greatness. Whatever the result tomorrow, I am sure it will just be another step on the staircase to the pinnacle. Whatever the result tomorrow, I am sure the Indian team will forget it in a few days, and start thinking about how to win the ODI series, and then prepare for the toughest challenge � a series in Pakistan. Because that is how great teams are made, not by soaking in the comfy gloat pool of success or stewing in the stinking cesspool of abject failure,. Great teams are made by continuing to scythe the waters of the ocean towards future achievements.

The way rahul Dravid was smiling, even as blood was oozing out of his ear after being hit by Lee, encapsulates what this team stands for.

Good luck, India.

Current mood � Optimistic :)
Current music � Chale chalo, chale chalo (Lagaan)