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Party, but don't lose focus: Kirmani

Ashish Magotra | December 16, 2003 14:44 IST

When Rahul Dravid hit the winning run and raised his arms in triumph, screams of joy erupted all over India. India have only won three Tests in Australia and never won a series there in seven attempts.

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The last time India won a Test in Australia was way back in 1981. Former India wicket-keeper Syed Kirmani was part of that team and is the chairman of selectors this time round.

"It is a great feeling. Indescribable," said Kirmani. "It's been 22 years since we last triumphed in Australia. We did it against the odds. After conceding 500, to come back is a massive effort and it speaks volumes of the team's ability."

But it is a victory that would not have been possible without the stellar efforts of Ajit Agarkar with the ball. His career-best six for 41 in Australia's second innings paved the way for a historic victory. But it has been a long time coming. Seventeen Tests had seen him get only 39 wickets with a best of three for 43.

"Everybody has talent," said Kirmani, "but the trick is to get consistency into your act and perform when the team needs you. That's what Agarkar managed to do."

Asked if the Mumbai pacer's performance surprised him, Kirmani shot back: "Surprised! Nothing surprised me. I had confidence in his ability and that of the team too."

India last victory in Australia was achieved all thanks to Gunadappa Vishwanath (114, 30) and Kapil Dev (5-28 in the fourth innings) coming good for the team when it mattered most. Kirmani, himself, held on to five catches and scored 34 vital runs.

"Those are great memories but it is nothing in comparison to this win. Two different eras, great players in both times. It is a question of applying yourself best, we did it then and the boys did it now."

Kirmani reserved special praise for V V S Laxman and Dravid. The duo added 303  runs in India's first innings.

"Dravid's knock was magnificent and his concentration was monumental. To score so many runs (305) in one match is amazing. He truly was superb in his application and execution," he said.

"V V S Laxman has been a changed batsmen in the last few years. Mentally he has become so much stronger. I think the change has all come with experience and exposure. He has finally come of age."

But Kirmani reckons that Dravid and Laxman share a special bond.

"They get along very well while batting together. Whether it is calling for a single or just talking to each other. They know what to say. Their partnership was vital in both the innings. This is the second time. Who can forget Eden Gardens."

Indeed, who can?

While the team is already partying, and deservedly so, Kirmani cautions them against complacency.

'This series is very interestingly poised now. But we have to be alert all the time, the Aussies will not give up."

Editor's note

There have been reports the Indian cricket team is keen to avail the services of utility player Sanjay Bangar before the third Test against Australia. But Kirmani mentioned the team management has not sent any request to the national selectors or the Board of Control for Cricket in India as yet.

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