A sensational victory…

In a conversation on India’s most famous recent victories, an India cricket fan will invariably allude to Kolkata 2001, Leeds 2002, Adelaide 2003, Multan 2004, Sabina Park 2006, Johannesburg 2006, Perth 2008, and Mohali 2008.

After yesterdays’ sensational, come-from-behind-victory at Chennai the India cricket fan would be compelled to add Chennai 2008 to this growing and impressive list of victories. India’s victory at Chennai ranks right up there with the victories in the above list.

Some victories just fade into history quietly. Some linger for much longer and some — like the list presented above — stay in the memory for specific reasons. For example, regardless of the team they support, few cricket fans will ever forget Leeds 1981, a match that was turned on its head by one man who refused to let the Australians run over him. Similarly, each of the above India victories will have special significance because of an individual brilliance performance or a special team performance.

Chennai 2008 may never acquire the status of a Leeds 1981 or a Kolkata 2001. But in the annals of Indian cricket history, it will rank right up there as one of India’s best ever.

First though, mention must be made of England’s courage and commitment to the game. There will be a few cynics that say that the IPL careers of Kevin Pietersen and Andrew Flintoff — and perhaps a few other English players — rested on Englands’ decision to return to India to play a Test match after the 26/11 terrorist attacks in Mumbai. But I am not sure Kevin Pitersen, Andrew Flintoff, Paul Collingwood and their mates would be ready to risk their lives in the search of a few IPL dollars.

I do applaud Englands’ decision to not bow down to the terrorists. it was a brave decision. It was a show of solidarity to the people of India and the people whose lives were affected by the cowardly actions of the terrorists. And if Englands’ decision thaws ECB-BCCI relations, gets England a few BCCI-Brownie points and also a few IPL contracts, I certainly will not begrudge them their place in the sun. Courage has to be rewarded. This was certainly a strong and compelling statement from Pietersen and his men off the field.

On the field, England played good cricket for three and a half days.

Just as Australia had blown their series against India at Nagpur in the 3rd session of the penultimate day, in this Test, England blew their chances through slow batting that defied belief.

There are a few reasons make this a special win.

India won after being behind in this Test from the moment she lost the toss. Many visiting teams talk about the toss being all important in India. The hosts showed that the effect of the toss can indeed be nullified if a team believes in itself and its abilities.

The total that India chased was the 4th largest 2nd Innings total that any team has made to win a Test match — that India has won two of the top four largest second innings winning totals says something about the tenacity that is developing in this new team.

But more importantly to me, this win was made on the back of backs-to-the-wall grit from players like M. S. Dhoni (1st innings) and Sachin Tendulkar and Yuvraj Singh (in the 2nd innings). Furthermore, unlike Mohali 2008, where almost everyone in the team contributed to the victory, this was a Test which was won mainly on the back of performances from a few — Dhoni in the 1st dig, Sehwag, Tendulkar and Yuvraj Singh in the 2nd Innings. Amongst the bowlers, only Zaheer Khan bowled with some fire although Ishant Sharma bowled well too. So, from that point of view this was indeed a strong victory.

India march to Mohali for the 2nd Test with Dhoni having won 4 from 4 Test matches that he has captained; not a bad start for him as India captain! The only change I expect in Team India is Laxman coming in at #3 for Rahul Dravid, who must have felt the guillotine drop an inch or two after the Chennai Test match. Harbhajan Singh’s bowling was a disappointment in Chennai. The team will be looking for a spirited performance from the Indian off-spinner.

— Mohan

13 responses to “A sensational victory…

  1. A very nice write up. This Indian team’s self belief and will power is refreshing and almost like repayment to all of us fans who suffered with them through those agonizing collapses in the ’90s. It all started in Kolkata but it has slowly gained momentum and is nicely consolidating into an impressive march towards the top. Dhoni has 4 wins from 4 matches as skipper!

  2. Taking it outside of the Indian context alone, it has been one of those really great test matches in the last few decades, matching ones like the ashes 05, kolkatta test match with Aus.

    This was a classic. Now can they close the series.

    Am adding you to my roll. I couldn’t believe that I had not already.

  3. Great news for Pakistan cricket followers. SriLankan cricket board and Ranatunga in particular are showing the rest of the Asian bloc that cricket comes first and money last. Their players will replace the cancelled Indian tour from the middle of January 2009, after their tour of Bangladesh.
    BCCI hasn’t shown the same grit , courage and courtesy that ECB and its players have shown in coming back to India for the two test series, albeit underprepared. It is a cheap argument to say that ECB or their players came to India because of the lure of IPL .

    India and the rest of the world can’t complain that it is only Pakistan or Zimbabwe that allows the politicians to run the game. Now India has shown that its politicians are no different–in running or ruining the game.

    At last, it gives our players to play in front of their supporters and this can only improve their performance.

  4. @Rameez

    I can point to times when the BCCI has stood by PCB in times of distress in the past. I have a feeling, though, that such an elucidation would be wasted on you.

    This situation that faces us now is not about “BCCI grit” nor is it about the BCCI affording PCB “courtesy”. Although I’d not wish to disagree with you about politics running the game, in this instance it is less about politicians running the game of cricket.

    The cancellation of India’s tour of Pakistan is not about any of the above. The context for this tour cancellation is that it comes barely 2 months after a bunch of crazed terrorists from Pakistan invaded the security and freedom of innocent individuals that went about their daily chores and duties in Mumbai and rained bullets on them. To insist on a game of cricket between India and Pakistan with this as context is nothing short of insensitive.

    As a fan of Indian cricket, I’d have stopped supporting the Indian team if it went to Pakistan to play cricket. The game is meaningless in the context of the many lives that were needlessly lost. I feel that it will take many years for normalcy to be restored in India-Pakistan cricket relations. I will not be surprised if several IPL contracts come up for close scrutiny and introspcetion.

  5. R Ali,
    You sound more like Chemical Ali from Iraq

    Because of the stupidity of your countrymen, I had to cancel my trip to India as part of Barmy Army.

    Indians are correct in not wanting to go to Pakistan next month.

    Why doesn’t Imran, Wasim etc convince Javed to inform the Indian Govt re where his in law Dawood Ibrahim lives–then if Pakistan Govt doesn’t send him to India, The Indian Airforce can bomb his house

    Then it becomes safer for India to travel safely to pakistan

  6. You missed to credit Bhajji for his gritty batting with Dhoni in the match. That was as much important as Dhoni’s batting in the first innings. If not for Bhajji and Zaheer whom would Dhoni have batted with?

  7. I think this win should rank as India’s best. The fact that we’ve been able to chase down such a huge score itself is commendable.

    What is also great is that for the first time in his career Sachin has finished a match. I think Dhoni’s inspirational captaincy is doing wonders to the Indian team.

  8. BTW Rameez Ali,

    It is not the BCCI’s decision to not tour but the government. The government wants some answers.

    On a different note folks,

    What a test match… saffers shook their chokers tag. However the series ain’t over and is turning out great. Hayden’s days might well be over.

  9. Scorpicity,

    Unlike PCB, BCCI is rich in its own right and I believe doesn’t depend on handouts from your government for survival. Hence, as an autonomous body, BCCI should instruct its contracted players to travel to pakistan –in the name of cricket, just the Englishmen have done and the Srilankans are willing to do. Afterall, our government is willing to issues the necessay visa–unlike your government that delayed our umpire Raul’s visit for the first test in Chennai.

    It looks like that BCCI, through ICC may be throwing a spanner in the works by wanting to do an independent security assessment. It all smells like a cospiracy or like the WMD suspicion that resulted in the invasion and occupation of Iraq and bombing of Afghanistan.

    We Pakistanis are a resilient set of people with deep religious conviction and cricket is not all that important.

  10. Ali, you have still not understood the whole point. if 10 indians come over to pak and Bomb Islamabad killing 100 of innocents, will your team travel India. It’s not about cricket.

    Not Just cricket, the relationship between the two countries is at doldrums..

    Don’t talk crap.

  11. Lol @ Rameez Ali and his la(w)hori logic

  12. In Chennai, our Captain Kevin Peitersen made a bold sporting declaration–or was it a gamble–and lost the test , due to our inept bowling and brilliant batting by the Indian top order.

    At Mohali, last evening, MS Dhoni and G Kirsten failed to reciprocate KP’s actions in Chennai and in effect killed test cricket. It deserved better.

    Were they keeping one eye on test rankings after SA beat Aussies in Perth ?

    Was Dhoni worried about his house or houses getting burnt by upset followers, if England had took up the challenge and won the second test?Due to the culture in our country, KP didn’t have that worry or fear.

    Or, were they under instructions from the twenty 20 mafia to kill off any new interest in test cricket after the Chennai and Perth tests?

    All in all, England and its supporters feel cheated and let down for its players coming to India–just to save Indian cricket after the terrorist attacks on innocent citizens of Mumbai. Indians have certainly hit one more nail in the coffin reserved for test cricket.

  13. Pingback: Take a bow Fab Five… Team India is the #1 Test Team « i3j3Cricket :: A blog for fans of Indian cricket…

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