Perth win: The jewel in Team India's crown
Posted on: 08:57 AM IST Jan 20, 2008
New Delhi: India's tour Down Under was expected to be a fiercely contested one. But not even in their wildest dreams anyone would have imagined the kind of drama that would unfold during the series.
After India capitulated without a fight in the Boxing Day Test match at Melbourne by a massive 337 runs, it seemed the visitors would be whitewashed and return home empty handed.However, in the second match at Sydney, India came roaring back into the contest putting the mighty Aussies firmly on the back foot. But destiny had other plans in store for Anil Kumble's warriors.Shoddy umpiring coupled with the naked display of gamesmanship by Australia saw the match slipping from India's grasp as the hosts registered a 122-run win. The match also saw off-spinner Harbhajan Singh being accused of racially abusing Australian all-rounder Andrew Symonds which threatened to not only derail the tour but almost divided world cricket.Losing the match did not rankle the Indians as much as the racial abuse charge against Harbhajan and the subsequent three-Test ban on him, which was taken as a national insult.With Australian media and public also supporting the Indians, better sense prevailed and the tour moved on with the third match at the Western Australia Cricket Association (WACA) in Perth, the fastest strip of 22 yards in the world.The four-pronged Aussie pace attack was expected to blow away the Indians in no time but the scripts changed dramatically and it were the Australians who were at the receiving end of some accurate bowling by the India.In the end what happened was truly historic, as India became the first team from Asia to win a Test at Perth.And the victory seems all the more sweet coming after the acrimonious Sydney Test and the associated controversies.Indias overseas triumphsThe Indian team has a poor overseas record and there is some truth in it. However, despite recording just a handful of Test victories outside the subcontinent, the 1-billion strong nation has never shied away from celebrating whenever the team has conquered the opposition in their den.Though Indian registered their first overseas win under the leadership of Mansur Ali Khan Pataudi in 1968 against New Zealand at Dunedin but it came against a team that was not one of the best in the game.PAGE_BREAKIndia's first big win abroad in the Test arena came when Ajit Wadekar-led India to a seven-wicket win over the West Indies in 1971. The same year India also won against England at Kennington Oval by four wickets.And Wadekar and his merry band stepped back home to a tumultuous welcome, the likes of which the country would only see more than a decade later after Kapil's Devils won the World Cup in 1983.Even though the twin wins against two of the best teams showed that Indians were no longer the also-rans, still the consistency was missing. Many critics considered the wins as aberrations rather than the rule.The next big wins overseas came against New Zealand and the West Indies in 1976 at Auckland and Port-of-Spain respectively.Australia were still remained unconquered at home but all that changed in 1977 when India won the Tests at Melbourne and Sydney and even though Sunil Gavaskar scored three hundreds but the visitors eventually lost the series 2-3. The team also won the Test at Melbourne in 1981.But things got back to a dull nothingness for a few years, as India couldn't win abroad barring England in 1986.Sourav Ganguly and his brave men then took on the might of the invincible Aussies in their own backyard and beat them convincingly at Adelaide during the 2003 tour to prove that India could surely win anywhere.Captain Ganguly had more wins to celebrate as Virender Sehwag's triple hundred threw caution to wind with such audacity that spelt out India's intent boldly to world cricket as the first series win in Pakistan too was achieved.And in 2006, Rahul Dravid he led from the front to take India to their only second Test series win in the West Indies.When six months later, S Sreesanth and Kumble took centre stage at the Bullring in Johannesburg as India went on to beat the South Africa by 123 runs to record their first-ever success in the country.India had tasted blood and England were the next victim Dravid's team won the Test series in England in 2007. At that time who would have predicted the Perth would prove to be the nemesis for the Aussies.So let Indian cricket soak in the joy of hard-fought success for a while.