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Nagraj Gollapudi speaks to current and former cricketers on just how significant India's series win in England is
August 14, 2007
After being outplayed at Lord's India launched a dramatic comeback at Trent Bridge, going 1-0 up in the series, before a draw at The Oval gave them their first series win in England for 21 years. Nagraj Gollapudi asked five men who've been there, done that - Virender Sehwag, Ajit Wadekar, Bishan Bedi, Kiran More and Harbhajan Singh - on the series win and what it means for India.
Does the series victory come as a surprise?
Virender Sehwag: Not at all. I was confident that, right from the beginning, we had a good chance this time to beat an England side that I felt was weak on the bowling front.
Ajit Wadekar: It is not a surprise. This [series victory] should have come much earlier but they have now started believing in themselves. Not only that, they've started thinking. Cricket is a game of thinkers, so that keeps each member involved in the game.
Harbhajan Singh: Not at all. We had a team that could win in England and the kind of cricket they played, especially after the Lord's Test, the way we bounced back in the series, giving hardly any chance to England to get back into the game, displayed our confidence
Kiran More: It definitely is surprising, the end-series result. We played better cricket than England. One of the biggest weak points of this series for England was Matt Prior, their wicketkeeper, who dropped some sitters. But full credit to the Indian team when everybody had written them off, to came back and play as a unit.
Bishan Bedi: It's a bit surprising coming after the Lord's escape. But after that the boys put their heads together, stuck together, so it is a good victory. Of course, a 2-0 scoreline would have conveyed a stronger message but what matters is we won.
We seem to have done better without a head coach. Your thoughts?
Wadekar: Rahul Dravid as a captain has finally come full circle and now is able to implement what he wants. Previously his thoughts might have been influenced by that of the coach, but during the England series he was on his own. Bizarrely, each time we have won in England there was no coach.
Bedi: We do better without a coach. For too long they've been spoonfed and now that they are on their own they probably realised their responsibilities better. Dravid has done a reasonable job as a captain: either he has been very good and attacking or at times he gets defensive, but he is learning.
Sehwag: I was really impressed by Rahul's captaincy. It doesn't matter if you have the coach or not because it is the captain who handles things on the ground and Rahul carried the right changes at the right times with the bowling changes and the field positions.
Harbhajan: We haven't won anything much for quite some time now and credit must go to Rahul Dravid and the senior boys who took the responsibility and led ably on the field.
One important change to come out of this victory?
Harbhajan: The willingness of the batsmen and bowlers to do things.
More: Their attitude and their belief in themselves. The way they saved the Lord's Test helped them bounce back.
Sehwag: The best part of this victory was that we perfomed as a team. The most important factor to win in Test cricket is that the bowling and batting units have to click together and that's exactly what India did in England.
Bedi: Whatever happens in Indian cricket it seldom happens by design. It is by sheer providence. We weren't settled in our bowling and batting and now our openers and young bowlers have shown with their performances that they can be consistent performers.
Wadekar: They are playing as a team.
Where does this victory rank in India's cricket history?
Sehwag: It is number two in my eyes, behind the series victory in the West Indies in 2006.
Bedi: Very high. Nobody gave India a hope really - many in England expected England to win 1-0 - and they have hit back with this victory.
Harbhajan: I would've loved to see a 2-0 final series verdict but still it's a big thing for Indian cricket. The victory in the Caribbean in 2006 was good, this is again good, now we have started to grow into this habit of learning to win away series. We just have to keep working on it.
The road ahead?
Sehwag: The message to the teams is clear: we can beat anyone anywhere. And one important thing that always helps in winning a Test is the success of your openers. In 2003-04, Aakash Chopra and I did a good job in Australia as the opening pair; now Wasim (Jaffer) and Dinesh Karthik have done a fantasic job that helped the middle order to build on.
More: I am happy with the way the youngsters like [Dinesh] Karthik and RP Singh have performed and that stands them in good stead for the future. We need to give the youngsters more opportunities and they will only develop over time.
Bedi: It'll give them a lot of self-confidence.
Harbhajan: This biggest positive to come out of this is that our confidence will increase multifold - if we can do it here we can do it anywhere, it's just a matter of belief and playing to our potential
Nagraj Gollapudi is assistant editor of Cricinfo MagazineFeeds: Nagraj Gollapudi
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