India vs Australia: What helped India win this series? There could be many logical answers and yet there could be no answer to it at all. It wasn’t meant to happen, such things don’t happen at all. The rarity of such this accomplishment is what makes it surreal and overwhelming. Perhaps like a deus ex machina, that enters a play at the last moment and solves all the problems.
Indian players pose with the winning trophy after defeating Australia by three wickets on the final day of the fourth cricket test match at the Gabba, Brisbane, Australia, (PTI)
The year was 1999 and there was a lot of anticipation in everyone about what lay ahead. It was the end of a century and the beginning of another. In India, it was a time of great change. ‘Growth’ was the buzz word in every walk of life.
But Indian cricket, on the pitch, was stuck in mediocrity, despite having the biggest star the sport had seen till then in its ranks. Sachin Tendulkar was already reaching stratospheric heights with his batsmanship and had earned praise from the greatest batsman ever, Sir Donald Bradman, after his exploits against the Australians in the unforgettable summer of 1998.
He was the diminutive ‘giant’ in a team that was still a mixed bag of sorts. When he led this team to Australia in the December of 1999 for a three-match Test series, in what was his second coming as captain of the side, there was fear in the hearts of Indian cricket fans and prayers on their lips.
Australia were the reigning world champions of ODI cricket and were an even greater force in Test cricket. To speak in footballing terms, they were the ‘Brazil’ of cricket in terms of dominance.
As was feared, India’s campaign came unstuck and ended in a 0-3 debacle. Tendulkar stood tall in the ruins, along with a certain VVS Laxman, but it didn’t matter much, as the team’s morale had touched its nadir. That defeat followed by a home series loss in years, against South Africa, meant Tendulkar gave up captaincy for good to concentrate on his batting.
It was an hour of crisis off the pitch too with the match-fixing scandal exploding and spinning out of control. India needed a leader, not just of a cricket team but of men and they found one in Sourav Ganguly. The Bengal cricketer had the elegance and charm of a prince in his batting, but he combined that with the tenacity of a street fighter as captain of the team.
(Picture: Yahoo News)