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Nation celebrates the triumph

Last updated on: April 16, 2004 20:32 IST

"The whole nation is proud of you," President A P J Abdul Kalam told the Indian cricket team as the nation erupted into joy on its historic Test series victory over arch-rivals Pakistan on Friday.

"My hearty congratulations to all of you on this historic and fantastic win that you have registered in the just-concluded cricket series in Pakistan," he said, in a message to India captain Sourav Ganguly and his boys, who won the three-Test series 2-1.

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"This has been made possible by admirable team effort," Kalam said, adding the "whole nation is proud of you."

Kalam's message summed up the mood in the country which burst into celebrations as soon as the team clinched the third Test in Rawalpindi for India first-ever series triumph on Pakistan soil.

Cricket fans burst crackers and distributed sweets to celebrate the special moment.

Congratulatory messages poured in from cricket administrators, former players and the common man.

Deputy Prime Minister L K Advani said the one-day and the Test series had a lot of "expectations and goodwill" and ended on a happy note.

"This is a dream come true for the Indian players and the people of the country," he said in a message to the Indian team.

In Kolkata, the hometown of Sourav Ganguly, cricket lovers thronged the streets as soon as last the Pakistani batsman, Danish Kaneria, was dismissed. They waved the tri-colour and congratulated each other.

In Delhi, man of the series Virender Sehwag's home at Najafgarh was swarmed by neighbours.

Former Test cricketers hailed the victory as the "greatest ever" and said it would prove a motivating factor for future series abroad.

"For India to win a Test series in Pakistan is itself a fantastic performance. But to win the one-day series and then the Test series is simply breathtaking," former captain Polly Umrigar said in Mumbai.

Former Test batsman and chairman of selectors Chandu Borde echoed his sentiments: "The boys have fulfilled their potential. It is a tremendous achievement as we have won the one-day series as well as the Test series for the first time ever in Pakistan," he said.

"Hats off to Sourav and his boys for a moral-boosting series win. From now on the team can only look forward to more success in the future," declared former India batsman and coach Sandeep Patil.

Sports Minister Vikram Verma and Lok Sabha speaker Murli Manohar Joshi and a host of leaders also joined the chorus in congratulating the team.

"The Indian team has not only won the Test series, but also the hearts of people of Pakistan," Joshi said in an obvious reference to Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee's advice to the team before it left for Pakistan last month.

"The series will definitely help in building people to people contact between India and Pakistan," he said.

"I am very happy with the win. A series win on foreign soil came after 11 years," said former captain Mohammad Azharuddin.

Krishnamachari Srikkanth, who led India on the 1989 tour across the border, termed the series win as "one of the best that I have seen ever seen".

"Ganguly has proved his caliber and status as the most successful Indian captain ever. The series win in both versions of the game should boost the confidence of the team," said Srikkanth.

Former opening batsman W V Raman said, "The heartening feature of the series is that the youngsters have come up very well and this should augur well for the future.

"It is a fantastic victory and our players have withstood the pressure of the game."

National selector Kiran More said, "It has been an outstanding performance by the Indian team, especially to win against Pakistan on their soil. It was an example of great team and individual efforts."

In Kolkata, Union Minister Mamata Banerjee said, "I congratulate Sourav Ganguly and the other members of the team who have attained success through hard work, discipline and a never-say-die attitude."

Selection committee chairman Syed Kirmani said the youngsters in the team lived up to expectations.

"When you have players of merit and consistency, the job of selectors is made easy," he said.

National selector from Central Zone Sanjay Jagdale said, "The Indian team is now appearing to be a balanced team and its bowlers have demolished the myth that it can't bowl out a team twice in the Test match," Jagdale said.

"Winning a Test series in Pakistan is not an easy job, it is a very big achievement after Independence.

"It is a golden moment for the cricket in India."

Former Test batsman and Karnataka State Cricket Association secretary Brijesh Patel, who also described the victory as a "historic one', heaped praises on the team, saying "it has been doing very well for the last two years".

"The youngsters have proved that they can win a series abroad. It is good for Indian cricket and its future," Patel remarked.

Former Board president Raj Singh Dungarpur said: "It is a great victory for Indians but not for me as I had always maintained that the Indians will do well in Pakistan even before the team left on the historic tour.

"I would also like to compliment the selection committee, headed by former India stumper Syed Kirmani, for picking the right team. The selectors, who receive lot of flak when the team does badly, have done a wonderful job this time around," he added.

When asked whether the gap between the best (Australia) and the second best (India) had narrowed after this historic win, Dungarpur, replied: "It is a difficult question to answer because the Aussies' running between the wickets, fielding and bowling are much, much superior, but the Indians have learned to jell together very well in recent times."

Former spin ace E A S Prasanna said the triumph over Pakistan would increase global respect for the team.

Prasanna, who along with B S Bedi, V S chandrasekhar and S Venkatraghavan, formed the dreaded spin quartet of the sixties and seventies, said, "Before the start of the series we were

talking of India's batting strength. But the bowlers have also proved that they can rise to the occasion."

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