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Miracles happen once in a while

Deepti Patwardhan | November 01, 2004

The rediff cricket diary

On Saturday, Justin Langer asked me, "Did you enjoy the Test?"

What could I say? You don't tell the actors on stage that the play was bad when it was they who had dished out the only enthralling moments.

"Not the result so much," he continued.

Definitely, no Indian was happy with the way India caved in the third Test. It was disappointing for even the romantics of sport who see a result as a mere termination of the spectacle witnessed.

Australia were just too good. Damien Martyn and Michael Clarke, especially on the fourth morning, were ethereal. The purpose with which they played was lost in the extravagance of their shots. Martyn played two high quality knocks, where the sudden cascades beautifully blended into a great river.

Clarke showed no respect to the Indian bowlers. He rode on a wave of supreme confidence of the first Test in Bangalore, where he scored a century on debut, to take the game away from India on the fourth morning.

Jason Gillespie's all out aggression scared the Indian batsmen, who were already facing the heat from Glenn McGrath's fiery spell at the other end.

Indeed, it was only one team that carried the weight of expectation in the series. India looked too haggard; there was no cheer in their performance and the body language was indifferent.

There were too many wrongs even before the Test started. The pitch was a 'demon', Irfan Pathan had broken down, Harbhajan Singh and Sourav Ganguly pulled out on the morning of the game.

It must have been hard on Rahul Dravid, who plans everything meticulously, to be rushed to toss the coin. Akash Chopra and Parthiv Patel, as it turned out, were playing to keep their places in the side. VVS Laxman had not even flattered to deceive and India was 0-1 down, trying to save a 35-yearl-old record.

To correct all this in one game, with the best team in the world planning your downfall for three years, was always impossible.

Add all that to the controversy about the Board of Control for Cricket in India's election for the board's presidency and the telecast rights wrangle, and you have a recipe for disaster.

Home supporters had laughed at the Aussies when they claimed on arrival in India that they had plans for every Indian batsmen. 'Typical Aussie boast,' they had said.

But the Aussies plotted the course and also showed the discipline to execute their plans. They knew well that in the subcontinent patience is the biggest virtue.

In fact, India took Kolkata 2001 for granted. But Dravid and Laxman cannot keep pulling off miracles. Twice in three years is a very good average, but miracles only come once in a while.

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