Adelaide - Two years ago
When India won at Adelaide two years ago
, I was at home. The time was already 11 am and I was being goaded to move my backside and get to work. I obviously couldn't do that without watching the Indian team achieve a milestone, a test match win in Australia
. I'd missed watching India's win at Headingley in 2002
"live" on TV. There was no way I was going to miss out on this one!
There were many heroes in that Adelaide game. Irfan Pathan made a promising debut. Ricky Ponting batted beautifully and powerfully to make a double century. Kumble took five wickets. Laxman batted sublimely. Sehwag had a cameo in each innings, as did Gilchrist. The opening day ended with Australia on 400/5 with Gilchrist and Ponting still at the crease. A total of perhaps 650 was in store, surely, we all thought. Agarkar and Kumble had other ideas, with Kumble making an impact on the series for the first [and not the last] time. India's 80/1 thanks to a good opening stand between Akash Chopra and Sehwag became 85/4. The next time an Indian batsman walked back dismissed, the score read 388, with Messrs. Dravid and Laxman tormenting Australia yet again. The tail hung around long enough to ensure Australia's lead was only 33.
Good bowling, over-confidence and a poor batting display resulted in Agarkar running through Australia's lineup picking up six wickets. Lest we forget, Tendulkar made his presence felt as well, with the ball, just as he did at Calcutta in 2001, with the wickets of Martyn [brilliant slip catch by guess who?] and Steve Waugh. Kumble bowled Gilchrist around his legs when it seemed like he was changing the course of the game. India were set 230 to win, three less than what Dravid had made off his own bat in the first innings. My first hope was for Veeru and Chopra to be together till stumps. I didn't care even if they made only 10 runs in the half an hour they faced. As it turned out, they batted quite positively, ending the fourth day with 193 still to get and all wickets in hand.
Chopra went early on, but Sehwag was still there. He looked in great touch and was on the verge of treating MacGill's offerings with the normal disdain he reserves for spinners when he played an atrociously moronic slog and was stumped. Tendulkar and Dravid had a nice partnership but Tendulkar padded up to MacGill and was given out. Ganguly opened the face and was caught at gully. The score was 170/4, 60 runs more for India, six wickets more for Australia. The partnership which finally eased my tension was that between Dravid and Laxman. Laxman keeps coming up with something special in low scoring totals/chases against Australia [Crucial sixties in the Madras test of 2001
and last year's Bombay test
]. In fact his mode of dismissal was identical to how he was dismissed in the final test of the 2001 series, caught at mid-wicket, except the catch this time around wasn't spectacular. Parthiv Patel then got out, bowled around his legs by Katich of all people. Fittingly enough, Dravid hit the winning runs through cover off MacGill and Agarkar was at the other end when it happened. Surely a target of 230 could have been achieved with more ease!
The ball apparently fell into the moat and Dravid couldn't find it. Steve Waugh mentions in his book
about how he made sure he retrieved the ball, signed it and handed it over to Dravid.
I think Dravid had something like one or two false shots in both innings. His top edged hook off Bichel flew over fineleg for six to bring up his century in the first innings. In the second innings, he survived two frightfully good overs from Brad Williams, including a dropped catch by Gilchrist and a loud appeal for a catch which was rightly negated because the ball had gone off his arm guard.Dravid's
performance was outstanding and astounding. Scoring 233 and then 72, while being on the field for almost throughout the game, was when Dravid finally confirmed to everyone else (I'd been convinced for a while) that he was now ready to take on the mantle of being India's best batsman. He was not out on 199 at the end of day three. He'd moved from 182 to 199 in 38 balls with the help of singles and twos, no boundaries or sixes. He had successfully shielded Kumble from Gillespie. He even had the gall to score a single with one ball remaining in the day's play. The personal milestone could wait for the next day. As it turned out, the double century was scored off the first ball of the next day. Now I'm willing to bet that _any_ other batsman would have tried to get the double century done with so that he'd have one less thing to worry about that night and the next morning.
A lot of water has flowed under the bridge though. He is now India's skipper
, and will be in that post for possibly the next two to three years. His skipper in that game apparently now no longer fits in
the scheme of things.
Oddly enough, I find no
mention of the actual win in Cricinfo's "All Today's Yesterdays"
even though they mentioned Dravid's double century and Agarkar's haul in the last two day's editions.