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Steve Waugh

Blessed to have Hayden and Ponting

December 27, 2003

After 18 years of international cricket, I rate our performance on the second day of this Test match as one of the best team efforts I have ever been involved in.

Sitting down prior to play, each player in our locker room knew just how important the day ahead was, and that it was going to take commitment, courage and belief to wrestle back the ascendancy from the Indians who certainly took the points on day one.

To stem the flow of the Indian batting by taking 6 for 16 in the first session of the day, then for our own batsman to stake a genuine claim for this all-important match, typified just how amazing the past two series between ourselves and India have been.

This match, like the 2001 series in India, has fluctuated in fortunes with both sides possessing the balance of power at different stages.

Each of these contests has certainly added to the growing cricket rivalry between the two nations and heightened the aura surrounding the Border-Gavaskar Trophy.

It has been an intriguing battle and we certainly have a lot of work ahead of us if we are going to win this Test match and level the series ahead of Sydney at one win apiece.

To be just 49 runs down heading into day three is a situation we probably didn't anticipate, but the men who have put us in the frame are without doubt Matthew Hayden and Ricky Ponting.

When we sit back and scroll through the cricket archives in years to come, we are going to be hard pressed to find many more players who have enjoyed such a remarkable period in the game.

From a captain's perspective I have been blessed to have the two of them at my disposal, and as a cricket lover, fortunate to have played in an era when they have both been so dominant on the international scene.

Both are up there with Brian Lara and Graeme Smith in the race to score the most Test runs for the calendar year, but knowing the team players that they both are, the pursuit of an individual milestone will be pushed aside to seek victory in this series.

Their innings today will hopefully provide us with the momentum to come away victors, just as Rahul Dravid and V V S Laxman did for India in Adelaide.

As a side we always talk about taking on a challenge. As far as this series goes we certainly have one in front us.

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