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Rival skippers Waugh and Ganguly hail "fantastic" Test series

MADRAS, India, March 22 (AFP) - Rival captains Steve Waugh and Sourav Ganguly bowed to one of Test cricket's great series after India won the final Test by two wickets on Thursday to take the rubber 2-1.

"It was one of the most fantastic series I have played in," Waugh said, but added he was disappointed at not realising his dream of winning his country's first series on Indian soil in 32 years.

"I would not be honest if I said I am not disappointed. Of course I am a bit sad that we could not win.

"But I am proud that my team fought till the end. We backed ourselves even when the match was going out of hand and kept the pressure on the Indians."

India secured a dramatic win when, after collapsing from 101-2 to 151-8, the ninth-wicket pair of Sameer Dighe and Harbhajan Singh carried the hosts to the target of 155.

Waugh had said two days ago that India would find 150 difficult to chase in the fourth innings, and his team lived up to that prediction.

"When we came out at 132-5 after tea we thought we would have one last go at the Indians.

"(Jason) Gillespie and Colin Miller picked themselves up for one last fling, but India played well at the end to take away the match from us."

Waugh was confident his team would recover from the exciting, but energy-sapping, series before meeting India in five one-day internationals from Sunday.

"Usually in a three-match series one Test gets a bit tight, but here we had three matches that were very close and the crowd got their money's worth," Waugh said.

He brushed aside a reporter's jibe that he had predicted a 3-0 win for his world champion team.

"I never said we will win 3-0. India are a very tough side to beat at home and they showed it in this series.

"But no one can take away our record of 16 consecutive Test wins which my team and I are very proud of."

Ganguly, jeered by the crowd for his lean patch with the bat, attributed the win to a fantastic team effort.

"I am not concerned about my batting as long as the team wins," the Indian captain said.

"Even after the defeat in the first Test, I was confident we will come back.

"Not many teams have come back after losing the first game, so there is even more reason to be proud of the boys."

Ganguly paid rich tributes to off-spinner Harbhajan Singh and batsman Venkatsai Laxman for their fine work in the series.

"They showed a lot of character in fighting back. It may not be right to single out individuals in a team sport (but) Harbhajan and Laxman were really outstanding.

"And then there was Dighe who told me at tea that we will do it. He lived up to it by staying until the end."

India made a remarkable recovery in the series after losing the first Test inside three days and being forced to follow on 274 runs behind in the second.

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