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Perth - A triumph for teamwork
by Partab Ramchand
Jan 21, 2008
By Partab Ramchand - Dreamcricket Special Columnist

So finally Stuart Clarke was made to eat humble pie. The Australian pace bowler when asked about his prediction at the start of the season said without battling an eyelid ``2-0, 4-0’’ meaning that Australia would win both the Test matches against Sri Lanka and all four Test matches against India. That was clearly being unduly optimistic with a touch of the bombastic and in fact one does not even know whether Clark really meant what he said. Surely he must have known that even for a world champion outfit winning all six Tests was certainly not on the cards. However to Clark’s credit it must be said that if he was serious he was two thirds of the way being proved right before events at Perth finally put paid to his hopes of seeing his unreasonable prediction come true.

This Indian team was never going to go the way of their predecessors 40 years ago who in fact did lose all four Tests. There is a world of difference in the stature of Indian cricket since the last four decades. Those were the days when cricket fans were contented when the Indian team drew a Test match. Since the watershed year of 1971 things have changed for the better and Indian cricket fans are now no longer satisfied with draws. Having savored a number of wins, at home and abroad and having seen their batsmen and bowlers perform the kind of feats that have attracted international acclaim they have over the years got used to India registering not just victories but notable series triumphs.

But even against this background the Perth verdict is something special. It was generally assumed that India’s best chances of winning would be at Melbourne, Sydney or Adelaide – venues at which in fact India’s four victories before January 2008 have been registered. But there was never any chance of India winning at Perth where the two previous games in 1977-78 and 1991-92 had been lost. Moreover the WACA had long been regarded as the Aussie stronghold something driven home by the fact that they last lost a Test match there to the West Indies in January 1997. By tradition the WACA pitch is the quickest and the bounciest in Australia and if at all any opponent had a chance it could only be the West Indies with their awesome array of fast bowlers. Indeed from the 70s to 90s West Indies defeated Australia in five successive Tests at this venue – three by an innings, one by ten wickets and the other by 169 runs. But other teams generally came a cropper and India particularly after being two down in the series were given no chance at all. In fact going by media reports leading to the Test one would have thought that the Indians were going to be sacrificial lambs. The pitch would be a traditional WACA track, the Aussies had four fast bowlers and much was made about the return of Shaun Tait who was given a terrific build up as a bowler who would run through the Indians.

It was conveniently forgotten by these self styled prophets of doom that the Indian batting line up was arguably the strongest in international cricket, that they had made runs handsomely against the fastest of bowlers and not always on dead tracks. It is true that they failed at Melbourne but this can be taken as an aberration while one need not recount the chief reason behind the Indians’ failure in the second innings at Sydney where in the first innings thanks to centuries from Sachin Tendulkar and VVS Laxman, the Indians still totaled 532 for a first innings lead of 69 runs. In any case what we saw at Perth exposed all the hype surrounding the Test. The pitch was not all that quick as it was made out to be and to say that Tait was off colour would be an understatement. Even the match figures – 21 overs and no wicket for 82 runs – do not convey the mediocrity of his bowling. Australia then were clearly a bowler short and this was asking for trouble against a regal batting line up and a team that was determined to put the acrimony of the Sydney Test behind them by focusing on the game.

As Anil Kumble put it the victory was a triumph for teamwork. Even a cursory glance at the scores would confirm this for almost every single player contributed his mite – and in some cases a bit more – to one of the greatest victories in Indian cricket. In particular the bowling – supposedly the weaker link – performed commendably fulfilling their captain’s eve of the series comment that the team had the bowling to take 20 wickets – a bold statement that few agreed with.

Now with their morale suitably boosted the Indians can approach a more favourable venue like Adelaide with that much confidence. Winning there would square the series. This is not a new experience for Indian sides for the tourists have done so on three previous occasions. However they will be up against a home team smarting from their defeat at Perth – particularly as they were thwarted at notching up a world record 17th successive victory. They will come back firing on all cylinders and if the Indians can match this force with controlled aggression of their own then we are in for a fascinating contest which would be a perfect ending to what has been a great Test series – if one can put aside the tantrums, unpleasantness and controversies associated with Sydney.

 
More Views by Partab Ramchand
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  Future of Indian cricket is in good hands
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  Ashwin is a stayer, not a sprinter!
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