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We must take inspiration from Calcutta
December 18, 2003
Entering the third day of the Adelaide Test I had noted that the stage was set for an epic encounter. As we now sit back and dissect the loss and analyse just where we went wrong, it is obvious that we need an epic performance of our own to reclaim the Border-Gavaskar Trophy.
But a come-from-behind series victory is not out of the question and we only need to cast our minds back to the beginning of 2001, when India came back from 0-1 and beat us 2-1, to realise just how possible it is.
Ironically, the men who turned the tide for India in that series have done it again. Rahul Dravid and V V S Laxman were outstanding in Adelaide, with Dravid in particular displaying outstanding concentration and magnificent technique over two match-winning innings. He plays with such a straight bat and once he is set he is a very hard man to get out. The challenge is now there for our bowlers to lock horns with several in-form Indian batsmen come Boxing Day when we set out to level the series.
There are several areas where I felt we let ourselves down in Adelaide. Our shot selection and execution on the fourth day of the Test certainly was poor, and I think it can be said that we didn't necessarily choose the right way of going about the job at hand.
But we can take some positives from the match. Ricky Ponting's highest Test score of 242 in the first innings signalled his status as one of world cricket's finest batsmen. It was an outstanding effort and, despite his disappointing second innings, it should see him carry some genuine confidence into Boxing Day.
The other standout performance for me was Brad Williams's courage in taking the field after suffering a strained AC joint. Entering the final day of the match, most people had probably written Willo off, but he knew that for us to win the match we were going to need all of our bowlers firing, not to mention a special effort. His work rate was inspirational, and it was quite evident that even though he was playing in pain, he knew the sort of sacrifice it takes to win a Test match.
Willo's courage and desire has hopefully set the tone for our performances in the last two remaining Test matches. From here, we look forward and not back as we embrace the challenge ahead of us and the wonderful occasion of the Boxing Day Test at Melbourne's equivalent of Eden Gardens, the MCG. It is a Test that generates a real sense of occasion and like many of our players who walk out on to the famous Calcutta turf for the first time, I am sure the Indians will be captivated by the sheer magnitude of this historic venue. The huge, grey concrete colliseum is the ideal venue for that epic encounter.
Previous column: The Little Master really is human
J Srinath's column: Path to victory was not exactly rosy