Life is all about ups and downs, twists and turns. To me life is about cricket. If Sydney was the nadir, Perth certainly has to be the zenith. This is is not just an example of how things can go high and low but also how fast it can go. Best thing is that the victory is in the recent memory and will help a long way in forgetting the Sydney defeat. To put things into perspective, India couldn't bat the last 2 sessions at Sydney and lost the Test after loosing heavily at Melbourne. Scoreline read 2-0, with next Test at Perth. Perth is branded as having the bounciest Pitch in the world. Australia thought they could comfortably trouble India with their pace batteries of Shuan Tait and Brett Lee. Thanks to the acrimonious Sydney Test, it was not just Cricket that had to be handled, Harbhajan Singh's case, Brad Hogg's case, patch up meeting with Ponting but also decision on continuing the tour itself. Everybody(includes me) had written India off, Kumble was expected to return to India after the Test Series getting whitewashed 4-0. So, no ordinary human being or Team can get away from this situation unscathed let alone bouncing back to win it. Anil Kumble and his Indian Team has done exactly that. Beating Australia at Perth to end their 16 match winning streak 'yet again'. Also ending their 4 year unbeaten streak at home ground. Incedentally India beat them at Adelaide on 16th December 2003. Now the series is still alive, Australia leading 2-1 and India having a chance to draw it if they win the final test at Adelaide. Border-Gavaskar Trophy is already with Australia even if India manages to draw the series because they had snatched it from India in the previous series played in India in 2004 by winning 2-1.
Sunil Gavaskar has rated this Indian win as the best of wins he has seen or was part of India in the last 40 years. The beauty of this victory was that everybody contributed and it was perfect team effort. Teams do get united in the face of crisis. Not one batsmen scored a hundred, not one bowler took 5 wickets in an innings. It was all about partnerships Dravid-Tendulkar, Jaffer-Sehwag, Laxman-Dhoni and Laxman-RP Singh. Bowling-wise it was all contribution from rookies and not much from dependable Kumble. Pathan's spell with new ball to dismiss both openers on both the innings, Inshanth Sharma's hostile spell to Ricky Ponting, RP Singh's swing were the stand out performances. We can say India has not just defeated Australia but out-swung Australia. Dravid who was struggling overall ended up being the topscorer for the match. Laxman continued his love for Australian attack and scored his 1000th test run in Australia too.
I had vowed to not follow cricket again. But it is never easy to get rid of an decade old addiction in a few days. I gave it my best attempt by not checking the scorecard on internet for the first 3 days (of Perth Test). But my friends used to keep pricking me with score updates. Today afternoon, after completing our 2nd Trimister MBA Exams. People (other than me) got desperate to know the scores. Somebody said Australia are 7 down at Tea. What?I couldn't believe it. By the time I could digest the score and situation, Australia lost the last recognised batsmen Micheal Clarke soon after Tea Break. I could now sense an Indian win. So badly wanted to witness the winning moment live. Had lunch quickly and went with my classmate to his house. Australians by then made sure that I could watch something by the time I reached his house by surviving for about an hour as they call "delaying the inevitable". I reached his home expecting to see the post match ceremony. But what I could see was Australia needed just under 100 runs to win with 2 wickets still in hand, Stuart Clarke was comfortably piercing the wide spread out field set by Indians or Kumble. Fast bowlers were bowling short length with the new ball. Now I was tempted to curse Kumble on his captaincy, also lack of help from former captains like Dravid, Ganguly and Sachin. Indians were definitely panicking at that moment. But when you have played under 40 + degree celsius for the whole day and just one spinner to take up the work load. Also the mental pressure of being in an unusual situation of winning a Test in Australia. Out of tiredness, I must realise that the bowling length is bound to get shorter.
I must admire Kumble for the way he has carried himself overall. He made some good team changes by dropping distracted Yuvraj, bringing in Sehwag thereby restoring the batting order. He won the toss, took a brave decision to bat trusting his batsmen to face the new ball from the fastest bowlers on a fresh Perth Wicket. He got his 600th wicket too during the course of the match. But what is more admirable is what he has done between Sydney and Perth. He has proved that he is definitely one of the few Gentlemen cricket is left with. Despite being at the receiving end from Australians sledging and cheating, he dropped the charges on Bard Hogg. The whole world including Australia has taken notice when he said "Only one team played with the true spirit of the game" after loosing at Sydney. Because if it has come from a man of stature of Anil Kumble, it has to be true. Fresh from reading on Leadership for HR Exams today, I can say that Kumble has demonstrated the characteristics of a Great Leader. He took personal responsibility for the defeats, didn't blame anybody. But to lift the spirits of the team that had just been battered was truly inspirational. As the saying goes "Tough times do not last, but tough men do".