Sunday, March 20, 2005

Back In Black?

A year ago, the frontier finally fell - not the final frontier of the Australian media making (somewhere down the line, Waugh dissociated himself from that phrase), but the one to our Northwest. It was a day of celebration, a day to remember and etch in Indian cricketing history, alongside the World Cup triumph in distant 1983. The Indian team had managed to exorcise the ghosts of the awful Sharjah surrenders and the heartbreaks in Bangalore and Chennai more than a decade apart in the space of just more than a month. We'll never know if it was complacence (after that tour, it'd be understandable, if not justified), or just collective bad form, but our cricket this season seemed to be going back to the dark era, beaten four times in succession by the arch rival and letting the final frontier fall to the Aussies. It was a combination of recognition of the talent in the team and the decline of Pakistan cricket that India were considered favourites once more. One has to hark back a long way, if there was one, to recall a state of affairs where India were favourites home and away to Pakistan. But being favoured poses its own peculiar little problems and it were perhaps these factors that were at work, apart from Akmal and Razzaq, that prevented a facile victory at Mohali. The Eden Gardens game was threatening to slip away when the old warhorse and the consummate pro, Kumble and Dravid, turned it around. Of course, there were contributions all around, as there are to be in a win. But one suspects the bowling and batting revolved around these two, as they have for a while. It's a touch too early to celebrate, but no one should mind if I have a drink or two secure in the knowledge that the series cannot be lost now. Well, hold on a moment wasn't that how we USED to think? Go get Bangalore, boys. And don't forget the one-day series, too. - NK PS: Ganguly and Laxman are still a worry, although Laxman was unlucky second time around.


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