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Javagal Srinath

India may spring another surprise

January 08, 2004

The era of Waughs has come to a magnificent end.

There was wholehearted acknowledgement by the entire cricketing world, which witnessed the retirement ceremony. In his speech, after thanking everyone responsible for building his career, Steve Waugh carefully thanked the selectors for having had patience and faith in him. The legend also revealed the importance of good family backing throughout his career.

Steve Waugh has been a role model not only for children in their formative years in cricket, but also for the senior members of some national teams, who hold him in very high esteem. I remember how our own Rahul Dravid used to emulate Steve Waugh. Rahul's aggressive walk on to the field to bat, with vigorous rotation of the arms, is a leaf taken out of Steve's book.

Steve rightly said that even if he could not win the series, which would have been really befitting, he enjoyed the tough competition posed by the resolute Indians.

The Indian team was infected with an incurable need to produce results in Australia. The series being levelled with the tourists always in the driver's seat was proof of the unbelievable dominance of the Indians over their opponents.

Coming to the absorbing contest at the SCG, It was always an arduous task for the Indians to force a result. Yet again Rahul and Sachin disdainfully attacked the Australian bowlers to put up a formidable target. Brett Lee was off-colour and this series must have taught him several lessons. Lee's words were louder than his actions.

Nathan Bracken and Brad Williams have tested the hardship of a Test match. It is always the case when you have bowlers like Glenn McGrath and Jason Gillespie operating for years, which leaves the second-rung players needing a longer time to establish themselves at this level.

The revelation of this tour has been Irfan Pathan. He has shown the right temperament for international cricket. To add to his line and length, which were impeccable, the ability to move the ball comes so naturally to this lad. The crucial wickets he picked were well deserved, not out of sheer luck. In fact, watching those dismissals carefully, one found that he had outplayed the batsmen with his ability to earn the wickets rather than having errant batsmen gift him their wickets.

In the beginning of the series, Anil Kumble made a brutally honest statement saying his record abroad was poor. That has paid rich dividends by the end of the series. Anil, the lion-hearted Kumble, once again proved all his critics wrong. A simple person, Anil has produced extraordinary results. A bowler is worth twice his ability if batsmen put up a decent score on the board and a bowler's ability can be reduced to half while defending fewer runs on the board.

Anil rightly said in the interview that the difference between the tour of 1999-2000 and now was that the batsmen were giving the bowlers a good score to defend. Anil, however, was severely handicapped without support at the other end and Murali Kartik will have to measure his performance and scale it up to the next level.

It's only true to say that a good Test cricketer can make definite adjustments to become a good one-day cricketer whereas a one-day cricketer finds it difficult to have a firm footing in Test cricket. Kartik has age and opportunity to come by and one can only hope that he graduates quickly.

The Indian batting, needless to say, is the best in the world, but the team management needs a pat on its back at the same time. The induction of Bruce Reid has helped the bowlers for sure. The contribution of Sandy Gordon has made a huge difference to the side in terms of attitude. Sourav has yet again proved to be the best in business.

Although the Australians appear to be better in the shorter version of the game, the exuberant Indian team might script another surprise.

Previous column: History in the making

Steve Waugh's column: India can stand up to any team

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