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A triumph of belief

England led in the match over three days and two sessions but what made the difference ultimately was India's belief that they would win

Sambit Bal

December 15, 2008

Comments: 56 | Text size: A | A


Sehwag has a delightful disregard for history, whether of the past 100 years or the last ball © AFP
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It would be tempting to call this a match without losers. That the Test took place at all was a triumph. As Sachin Tendulkar said, after an innings that must count among his finest, a Test win or Test hundred cannot even begin to compensate for what was lost in Mumbai last month, but it can be said without overstating the importance of sport that after those dark hours India could do with a Test like this. And that Mumbai's most famous son piloted the team to the win made it even more poignant.

Already his innings had been a gem, crafted with technical virtuosity and mental fortitude, but that Sachin Tendulkar brought up the win with a delicate paddle, which also brought up his hundred, granted the perfect finish to a quite perfect Test. Individual milestones are not meant to matter much in a team game, but in this case, anything else wouldn't have felt right.

Remove the circumstances, though, and it would still count among India's most special wins. More than all else, it was a triumph of belief. England led in the match over three days and two sessions, but what made the difference ultimately was India's belief that they would win. England were resolute, resilient and resourceful, but somehow a touch diffident when it to came to decisive phases of the match.

They won a good toss and batted for nearly 130 overs, yet scored only 316. On day four, when it came to the charge, they scored only 57 runs in two hours. It can be said with hindsight that their declaration came not too late but too early, but that would be missing the point: they should have got at least 50 more. It was perhaps fear that held them back: what if we get bowled out for 50 fewer? That's the essential difference between good teams and great ones.

This is a significant moment for India's cricket history because that's the sort of diffidence that has sometimes in the past characterised their approach to cricket. Team after team, and captain after captain have been chipping away at the wall of self-doubt - secure the draw first, then contemplate victory - and this could well serve as a tipping point.

Seven years ago Nasser Hussain's England set India 374 runs in just over a day - admittedly a far tougher target than that in Chennai - and then too the openers, Deep Dasgupta and Shiv Sunder Das, put on 100 runs for the first wicket. But they consumed 54.3 overs for 119 runs and effectively ended the match - India finished with 198 at 2.04 runs an over. When, five years later Andrew Flintoff left them 368 to get on the last day in Nagpur, India mounted an audacious heist - but not until tea, by when Rahul Dravid and Wasim Jaffer had taken out 51.3 overs for 130 runs after the first wicket had fallen with only a run on the board.

That wicket was of Virender Sehwag, bowled playing an airy drive. Without Sehwag, the Chennai chase would have been inconceivable. He has a delightful disregard for history, whether of the past 100 years or the last ball, and thus is never weighed down by it. After he and Dravid fell short by three runs of the record score for the first wicket in Lahore in 2006, Sehwag casually admitted to never having heard of Vinoo Mankad and Pankaj Roy, the then record holders. History would have deemed this chase virtually impossible. Never had a target of over 300 been chased down in India in the last innings, and in Chennai the highest successful chase had been 155 - but if he remembered anything at all, Sehwag would have thought of the 387 India scored against England in the first one-dayer last month. Sehwag is a man of incredible batting skills but his mind is pure genius: doubt is not allowed to hover nearby, let alone enter.

 
 
Gradually and certainly, India are moving towards a stage where to win is not a hope but an expectation. To call them the new Australia will be glib. Australia's reputation has been earned over a decade-long dominance. But India are acquiring an aura of their own
 

It was Sehwag who reinforced the belief in as emphatic a manner as possible, but it's been a belief that has been growing. After the third day's play, with England already ahead by nearly 250 with seven wickets in hand, Gary Kirsten, a man not given to bombast, said calmly that he believed his team "capable of anything". Harbhajan Singh's words on the first day - he waded into England's defensive batting and dismissed out of hand the chances of their spinners - may have seemed hopelessly misplaced by the second day, but they were born of a confidence that characterises him. And on the fourth evening, Gautam Gambhir, a mild-mannered man off the field, had absolutely no doubt that a fast-wearing and untrustworthy pitch wouldn't deter India from going for a win.

This belief didn't waver throughout the day. The fall of wickets didn't bring the kind of stonewalling that might have come on another day. Gambhir and Tendulkar ticked away, cutting, sweeping and daintily working the gaps after Dravid fell early; VVS Laxman kept it going with drives in front of the wicket that seemed beyond all batsmen till then; and Yuvraj Singh, his Test credentials under a cloud once again, simply glided on. The momentum was never surrendered.

Historic is a word regularly used for India's Test wins in the past eight years. "First Test win in England in 20 years", "first win in West Indies in 25 years", "first-ever series win in West Indies", "first-ever Test win in South Africa", "first win in Perth" - all these have been signs of progress, but also pointers to a miserable past.

Gradually, though, and certainly, India are moving towards a stage where to win is not a hope but an expectation. To call them the new Australia will be glib. Australia's reputation has been earned over a decade-long dominance. But India are acquiring an aura of their own.

Chennai wasn't a Kolkata-like win. That was a miracle, a once-in-lifetime thing. This one has been achieved with a certainty of purpose, sealed with a clinical finish. One way of looking at it would be that India got out of a situation they should never have allowed themselves to be in, for they were the better team. The other is that a win like this likely to engender a belief that any match can be won till it is lost.

Sambit Bal is the editor of Cricinfo

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Posted by jdangerously on (December 17, 2008, 19:49 GMT)

Great match especially under the circumstances, I hope this euphoria doesnt overflow into forcing our brave lads to go to Pakistan and play cricket. What people especially Pakistanis fail to grasp is India is quitting the Pakistan tour because they hold Pakistan accountable party for the carnage in Mumbai. Fact: there are terrorist camps in Pakistan, Fact: those terrorist camps are spouting buggers bent on destroying India, Fact: Pakistan isnt doing enough to combat them. This is the reason India SHOULD refuse to tour. In anycase India is flush with money, with test victories and plaudits from around the world. No one cares for Pakistan, India shouldnt either. India has NO obligation to Pakistan whatsoever. If Pakistan doesnt get cricket or if its people yearn for it so much then tough noogies, go play in that bookie infested desert with pals Zim , SL or Bangladesh.

Posted by CricketLoversRuleTheWorld on (December 17, 2008, 18:41 GMT)

well if not the best one of the finest run chase obviously.. well done team India..

Posted by CricketLoversRuleTheWorld on (December 17, 2008, 18:38 GMT)

Time has come to kick out Dravid out of this time just as he did with Ganguly.Life has come full circle for him....

Posted by Senthilkumarvs on (December 17, 2008, 16:06 GMT)

India's win at chennai reflects a very simple strategy believe that you can achieve anything if you play to your potential.Sehwag, Gambhir,Tendulkar and Yuvarj have displayed that.Dhoni's simple strategy of drying up the runs when he realised that England is going to increase the scoring pace.He had used the same strategy against Australia had yielded very good result again but the difference against england was bowling in a attacking line resulted in 57 runs with 5 wickets.Allowing Sehwag to continue his style of play and sending Dravid at the fall of Sehwag's wicket signalled positive signs about the approach of the team towards the target as well as about Dravid even though he failed to score but his contribution for the victory.Well Done Team India!!!!

Posted by Nipun on (December 17, 2008, 14:54 GMT)

What this win has done is that it has knocked the stuffing out of England.England now know that even a target of 400+ isn't safe enough for this vibrant,ever-ascendant Indian team,& I presume that this thought must be going on in Pietersen's mind over & over again.Steve Harmison & Monty Panesar were extremely ordinary.In fact,Panesar has 120 odd wickets from about 35 games,whereas Mohammad Rafique had 100 wickets from 33 tests,& that too bowling mostly in a single innings.It's so surprising to see Panesar getting so much attention.In Chennai,even Yuvraj was a class apart from him!With Dravid,the case of dropping him is shameful.The backbone of Indian batting from 2001-2006 deserves more leeway.However,he has been off-form for 2 seasons now,& this should also be kept in mind.We have seen Sourav & Kumble being forced to retire,& we certainly don't want that to happen to Dravid.

Posted by G111 on (December 17, 2008, 4:54 GMT)

When we are all saying that england scored only 57 runs in the 2nd session of day 3...We are forgetting that it was a brilliant spell of swing bowling from our premier bowlers.They have to be given credit.About the victory,under MSD we have learnt to believe that impossible in nothing.Dhoni will go on to be one of the best captains the world has seen.

Posted by Aloke_Mondkar on (December 17, 2008, 2:16 GMT)

Lets give some credit to Dhoni and his captaincy (attitude) here. In the past we have failed miserably in 4th innings chases. If the target was anything over 250 on the 4th day, we would go into our shell and as a result loose more wickets and end up being bowled out. All previous examples of non-chases had captains like Dravid, Kumble and Gavaskar at the helm of affairs. This team has a different mindset and has changed and like in a corporate environment, change comes from the top. I guarantee that without Dhoni as captain, the same Sachin who scored the runs at a fair clip would have gone into his shell (like against Pakistan in 2005-06). Even if that target was non reachable, we would go into our shells, try and block every ball and loose even faster. Dhonis attitude means that we will not only win matches we would have otherwise drawn, we will also draw matches we would have otherwise lost. Call him lucky or anything but he is giving the results!

Posted by S.N.Singh on (December 17, 2008, 1:57 GMT)

It not easy for me, I(U.S.A.) have to wake up 11.p.m to 6.00a.m. to see cricket in India and other countries.I alway stay up to see Tendulkar,Sehwag and Dhoni bat. With Sehwag, I am always afraid he will out anytime. Looking at how the wicket was playing, I know that we would win. For five days cricket, we need to have our player to concentrate the way they did. We have players Yuvraj and Dhoni who can have a go in the time of need. It is not the batting the problem, it is India's bowling and field placing. I still think Dravid will come good in the next match. Cricket lovely cricket. S.N.Singh. (USA)

Posted by Amit_Naidu on (December 17, 2008, 0:18 GMT)

Indeed an excellent match.One of those matches where you dont see any losers potentially.Indias self belief,Sehwags swash buckling innings,sachin and yuvrajs experience and calmness all led to this great victory.We also shouldnt forget the excellent batting of strauss and collingwood.

Posted by Yamal on (December 16, 2008, 20:32 GMT)

Team India Rules! Watch out World! This is only the tip of the iceburg. There are pleany of great cricketers lined up to replace ppl like SRT, Dravid and VVS as we have seen what the replacment for Ganguly has done in Chennai.

Posted by Dipz-CricketWorld on (December 16, 2008, 20:25 GMT)

What an amazing test match this has to be the best test match of the year. With after the unfortuante attacks in Mumbai a lot of credit has to be given to England for coming back to play cricket. India were poor in most of the test match but India showed that under Dhoni's captaincy they are a team who take can advantage of situations and this is what they did from slowing down England's run rate then with Sehwag giving India the perfect platform. Without Sehwag's innings it India may have stuggled to avoid defeat but all the batsmen played there part Gambhir and Laxman then with Tendulkar who played probably his best test innings of Yuvraj played an excellent innings and dealt with everything England were throwing at him.

Posted by vakkaraju on (December 16, 2008, 18:06 GMT)

As a captain Rahul Dravid never was very supportive of his team members when they were low on confidence. Player after player got dropped. His philosophy that he clearly expressed early in his tenure, was they were professionals and he did not think it was his place to nurture them. Now the shoe is on the other foot. Now that he is low on form and confidence there are very few team members he can rely on. Harbhajan was actually taunting him!!!! What goes around comes around.

Posted by edboy on (December 16, 2008, 17:24 GMT)

What a fantastic test match and congratulations to India on a wonderful run chase. Commiserations to England who would have won this match 19 times out of 20.

Sadly, how disingenuous was Sambit Bal. Not one single mention of Andrew Strauss in this article. Same too for the man of the match adjudicator who gave the MOTM award to Sehwag for his quick fifty. Strauss, who's two magnificent centuries set up this match. Without these two innings the match would not have been the spectacle that it was and India would not have achieved their highly improbable and probably 'one-off' victory.

Well done Andrew Stauss, for you were truly the man of this match in the eyes of any normal cricket lover. Shame on you India for hijacking the 250,000 rupees.

Posted by GANIL on (December 16, 2008, 13:08 GMT)

hi every one Regarding Dravid, my thoughts are as follows. I agree he is one innigns away from getting back form. But I dont understand why he want that innigns at international level, leaving India to play with 10 inform players till that one innigns happens. He could take a break and play few more matches at domestic levels and have that one innigns which will bring back the form. Therafter he can come back. Perhaps he may not be certain about his comeback. But he should look at the come backs of Shehwag, Ganguly and even Gambhir and realise the matter rather than letting India field 10 inform players.

Posted by Gilliana on (December 16, 2008, 12:09 GMT)

At his age and point of time, there is no chance of Dravid getting out of the rut that he is in. His body is willing but his spirit and mind is weak. I doubt he will ever be the same Mr.Reliable and must come to terms with himself. There is no shame to walk away from the game as he had done his duty for his country with distinction. To preserve his stature and dignity he must hang up his boots and give his place to a youngster.

Posted by Uppi on (December 16, 2008, 10:37 GMT)

Why do so many people say that Sachin has proved his critics wrong? As far as I can make out all critics used to point out was that Sachin does not have too many 4th innings match winning knocks. By playing his first such knock in test cricket, Sachin has proved them right. No critic ever said that Sachin was a lousy batsman. Just that for a great batsmen he did not have too many innings where he guided India to victory. I am very happy for Sachin that he managed to set the record straight. Hope that he does it again.. and again...

Posted by AnyoneButVettel on (December 16, 2008, 10:02 GMT)

I totally agree with wizman's comments. I've had this feeling for quite a while now - India gives a sniff to mediocre teams, tends to lose it's ruthlessness against them. Teams like SL, ENG, NZ and WI should never even be allowed to entertain thoughts of drawing matches against IND let alone beat it. I can't understand why IND has to raise or stoop to the level of the opposition.

Posted by saumilzx.com on (December 16, 2008, 9:47 GMT)

Before we glorify such wins, we need to look at why we put ourselves in such a situation- chasing nearly 400 in the 4th innings. We just fumbled it away in the first innings! Tendulkar has been defiant in his last 3 first innings against the Aussies- ensuring an innings recovery after mini-collapses...

The fact is that, after many such brilliant first innings, he actually let us down this time! He has been nailing issues in earlier on in matches- since decades- to avoid matters of such historic proportions. But today he is seen as a savior! Just get back to your normal-self Sachin and make England to the chasing. Put it across them in the first innings.

Posted by iknoe on (December 16, 2008, 8:01 GMT)

With all due respect to every body's comments.Most u guys must be crazy to say something about dravid like that. cmmon guys have a break,he's one hu has won us a lot of matches,saved many. how do u expect guys to play test cricket.agreed that sehwags has played an innings that has helped us win this test match,but dont forget these are just once in lifetime innigs.test cricket is test for players for both mentally and physically.and dravid is one of the greatest players in test cricket.no tom dick and harry can get this achievement of ten thousand runs in both form of the games.He's a hero,a match winner which u guys have to be proud of.his contribution is not seen in a match,but matches .when wickets were crumbling he was there for there for the rescue.

And to make a point ,give some praise to Gambhir also,he is put a valliant 66 on board. u gotta start admitting the effort of evry player in indian cricket,there giving some of the finest memories to us.

Posted by sri1010 on (December 16, 2008, 7:47 GMT)

it is so easy to take it out on Rahul. We have been seeing so many collective failures of Team India, that individual lack of form has gone unnoticed. Now that the team is doing well, so he looks like a blot on the canvas. People who really condemn out of form cricketers may not have wielded the bat and it is always so easy to criticise. A few months back Sehwag & even Sachin have gone through the same criticisms being levied against them. VVS has been in & out of the side irrespective of performance. The question that one needs to look at is how good is the batting bench strength. Badrinath yet to be tried out, Rohit in & out of the side.Then? One should always take into perspective that players like Rahul Dravid , VVS, Sachin are nearing the fag end of their careers during which they have taken the level of cricket in India to the standard it has now reached. Ganguly went out on a high, we should give Rahul that opportunity for all that he has rendered to Indian Cricket.

Posted by thetruelegend on (December 16, 2008, 6:59 GMT)

Dejected_Indian_Fan u jast said that for once tendulkar delivered when it matter. Where r u living he has always played well the reason that india hasnt won matches like this it is not because tendulkar not performing when it mattered but there were never team performance from india rememeber pakistan victory in chennai in 1999 tendulkar scored closed to half thr runs but still india couldnt win because the team didnt perform. Congrats to india from winning the match which they never looked like drawing on third day. Fourth day 2nd sessions and sehwags innings made it possible not taking anything from the rest of the performances. After this test i am proud to be a cricket lover and hope the next test to be even more existing. English cricket should be sad at all they should be happy that were able to do what Australia was not able to do and take the belief from indian cricket and believe that they can win the ashes and bring down the regin of the most disgraceful team in cricket

Posted by wizman on (December 16, 2008, 6:39 GMT)

I really disagree that this was a resilient believeing India.

It is a typically lazy India who were on a giant downer after the Australian series, and totally underestimated the opposition as "just England". Not until England had declared and Sehwag said "I just don't care" and teed off like usual did anything positive happen for India.

Read the Cricinfo commentary and see how many dismissals read limp or insipid or poor shot in India's first innings.

India can only get themselves up to fight hard against what they think are quality opponents, and struggle against middle-of-the-pack teams (and they can steam roll Zim and Bangas).

They are lazy and not in the same league of ruthlessness as Australia of 5-10 years ago.

Posted by KIZHEDATH on (December 16, 2008, 6:20 GMT)

It is an undisputed fact that Sachin is a cricketing genius.It is atreat to watch Sachin batting. But this victory is a team effort with contribution from ishant, Zahir, Har bhajan, Dhony, Sehvag, gambhir, Laxman, Yuvraj & sachin. Till 4th day, many results were possible, a win, a draw or a tie. But Sehvag made it so simple that at the end of fourth day, only one result was possible. A WIN by either of the two teams. Here the better team won.

Posted by Tomorrow_Never_Dies on (December 16, 2008, 5:50 GMT)

A well-deserved win for India. Sehwag is the most valuable player for India who wrenched the match and pointed his mates that the target of 387 is achievable. Sachin's century that too in the fourth innings of a test is quite fantastic. Usually in all India wins, Dhoni's captaincy played a vital role. Nowhere in this match highlighted the captaincy as a role. Thoroughly, a team effort. Good win for India. Yuvraj with his technical skills should take the responsibility in the lower middle order and continue the momentum going on. Thanks to Zak, Ishant, Bhajji, Mishra for their excellent spells. Chak De!!

Posted by rsram on (December 16, 2008, 5:18 GMT)

Like Yuvraj's, my dream's also come true. I've been longing to see a match winning 4th innings 100 from the great master. He came so close to achieving that 9 yrs ago at the same venue. A lot has been said and wrote about Sachin's inability to steer India to victories in the 4th innings of a test match. This talismanic genius had recently proved all his critics wrong in ODIs in the VB series finals against Aus. He now has established his supremacy in the tests also. Every Indian cricket fan should be proud of him now. Now, having said all these, with due respect to Sachin's knock, I should say there is another genius who is solely responsible for this victory- Sehwag. But for his stunning innings of 83, India would not have gone ahead with their winning plan as rightly admitted by Dhoni. Sachin might have played well and might have still scored a 100, but that would have been for saving this test and not winning it. Such was Viru's impact in this victory. He's rightly adjudicated MOM.

Posted by Rajesh. on (December 16, 2008, 4:18 GMT)

Fine win though it was helped by England's strange batting on day 4. But then they wouldn't have imagined Sehwag would blast away the way he did. Perhaps only Sehwag can do what he did. More than the way he played it's the 'decision' to play like that which sets his apart. And one of Sachin Tendulkar's finest for sure... What an innings !!!

A couple of things I would like to point out though.... It's really not in good taste to say this win wouldn't have happened under Dravid or Kumble and could have happened only under Dhoni. He is a good captain all right, but pls don't over do it when praising anyone, especially if it's at the expense of others. Another thing that baffles me is the statement by some players sometimes when they say "The dressing room atmosphere is fantastic now" ... Do they mean to say it was never good before ? Surely it can't be like that.... And don't ridicule Dravid if U know your cricket & what he has been to Indian Cricket.

And well done England too !

Posted by aditya87 on (December 16, 2008, 4:10 GMT)

The best thing that happened for India on that fifth day in my opinion was the wicket of an out-of-form Dravid. It was a blessing in disguise. I know it's harsh, but the last thing we wanted at that stage was Rahul scratching around and giving the momentum back to the opposition. I think a great player like him deserves a break now and should relax and play domestic cricket, so he can come back and start scoring again.

Posted by ChuckingMuraliMakesMeSick on (December 16, 2008, 3:54 GMT)

This is a win that could well be looked back on in a few years as the one that made this Indian team truly believe they could win from anywhere. It's a memorable win, and it evokes memories of when Australia beat Pakistan in Hobart in 1999 - a side refusing to surrender and, ultimately, triumphing. The Indian team is the best balanced side in the world (and surely Sehwag is the best batsman at the moment) in most conditions, with only a third, quality paceman an issue. Sadly Dravid's days appear numbered, but there are a number of claimants for his position. This is a stepping stone to the position of world number one, but the Indians look like the 'heirs apparent' in international cricket. Next step is to start winning away from home regularly. Final step is to win a series in Australia.

Posted by sammykent on (December 16, 2008, 3:49 GMT)

I think India need to afford Dravid his poor form for a little while longer. On bowler friendly tracks he has often salvaged a score for India with his 'Wall' like qualities. Just because he is sandwiched amongst stroke makers should not diminish his role as a solid anchor man. If his form was to continue to slide then a decision would need to be made but whilst the team can carry him through this patch there is no need to replace him. Matthew Hayden endured a patch of poor form and is currently going through another but the selectors stuck with him and he has always come back to dominate bowling attacks all over the world. I also think that comparisons with Australia are not too early. India are playing superb cricket at the moment and have a set, determined and successful combination of players.

Posted by Gilliana on (December 16, 2008, 3:48 GMT)

All praise must be given to Sehwag not only for his motivation but also for his, 'We are coming to get you, boys', attitude. No denying the fact that Tendulkar played the vital knock, it was Sehwag that put the fright up the Englishmen and set the ball rolling. Apart from India being congratulated for their historical and empathetic win, Tendulkar's innings demands the respect of all those sceptics that rallied to castigate his inclusion in the Indian team. Well done Dhoni, your 'never die' attitude and presence not only gives inspiration and hope to your team but also to your countrymen. You are the worthy successor of Saurav Ganguly and I wish you many more wins for India.

Posted by sri1010 on (December 16, 2008, 3:27 GMT)

Truly a match without losers. Though for the record India emerged victors. We should not forget that England led by KP had taken a very brave and bold decision to play in the wake of one of India's worst nightmares, while most teams would have run helter skelter. Whatever the outcome of the series, KP & his team should be aptly commended by the BCCI & Indian government for making this series possible. Cricket is a team game and everyone contributes, a bowler may take one wicket that changes the course of proceedings, but most often that is forgotten. Sehwag is perhaps the most sensational player, and he surely laid the foundation for this victory, but that is the way he plays. But look at each performance individually & the circumstances. Actually no player ought to singled out for performance.

Posted by Dejected_Indian_Fan on (December 16, 2008, 3:07 GMT)

For once, India delivered. For once Rahul cracked Wall Dravid got out early and gave India a chance. Had he stayed, he would have ended up on 23 in 169 balls and the match would have been a draw or most likely a defeat. For once Tendulkar delivered when it mattered. Thank God!

Posted by CricketisMyPassion on (December 16, 2008, 2:53 GMT)

It was from the trenches kinda effort after the first three days had tilted the game in favor of England ever so slightly like the leaning tower of Pisa. Just Like Australia did in its final test, England nodded (no pun intended!) in the post lunch session on fourth day with a crawl that wd have won prizes in local slow cycling races. Of course Zaheer and Ishanth bowled well to reign in the unadventurous English batsmen (surprisingly that list included KP and Freddie!)

Then came Sehwag like a fresh breeze - rather whirlwind and changed the game. Yet it needed the tremendous will, patience, skill and maturity of the one and only Ten(dulkar) and the fire, resolve and self-controlled aggression of Yuvraj who silenced (temporarily) his detractors at test level to take India across the line.

The true mark of a champion, as against a mere winner is the ability to take reverses in stride and come back counter punching.

England did not take its chances. India converted half chances.

Posted by ssridhar on (December 16, 2008, 2:46 GMT)

Satisfying win. The architects of this Indian win were Strauss,Collingwood, Harmison and Anderson. Strauss and Colly batted slowly for India and Harmison and Anderson bowled without plan and purpose and to the strengths of Viru in the Indian second innings. Special credit to Flintoff for geting Dravid out to hasten Indian victory. Of course due credit must be given to Viru, Gambir, Sachin, Yuvaraj and special credit to Dravid for getting out early.

Posted by SanjivSanjiv on (December 16, 2008, 2:01 GMT)

India is improving slowly and steadily but surely if we look at the recent history of some of the test matches won by India particularly against Australia. Taking nothing away from these victories, India still need to reach at a stage like where Australia so dominated that victory was a cat walk in the Steve Waugh's era irrespective of the opposition until the famous Calcutta test and even beyond that. India has improved tremendously in every sphere of the game but.....there is still a but which says... you are not there yet with an assured win in every test match. I want to see that. And this team is capable of doing that. Well done India, keep the focus of becoming the 1st rank team. Best of luck in the future endavoures! Sanjiv Gupta Perth Australia.

Posted by Patelbhai on (December 16, 2008, 1:50 GMT)

I agree with Siddharth. Dravid getting out early was the key. His temperament is too defensive and negative. I remember against England he would not enforce a follow on with a lead of 300+ runs and settled for a draw. That was his mental downfall.

Sourav was asked to retire by BCCI and his performance has been far superior to Dravid's in the last 2 years. It is high time Dravid calls it a day and makes space for younger players.

Posted by paku11 on (December 16, 2008, 0:30 GMT)

I've been waiting for this moment for 19 years, ever since the genious started his long ride to immortality. And the timing of this history is even more befitting. Hats off to Eng and K Petierson. the result of the match does not take away any credit from Eng as there was nothing that they could have done to change the final outcome. One other trend that has been broken is that Eng had won all the matches when Strauss scored a century. The fact that two centuries in a match couldn't help to carry on that trend tells you something about the performance of TEAM IND. Also the fact that this chase came up against one of the best bowling attacks adds that extra glory to the win. Call him the lucky captain,but i certainly didn't see any luck involved in the chase. it was pure confidence, belief and positive approach by the team. Well done Ind.

Posted by jamrith on (December 16, 2008, 0:00 GMT)

Tempting to call this a clinical performance but that would rob it of the flair and glory that characterized it. If you had to pick India's 5 best wins, Kolkata in 2001 would perhaps be #1, but Perth in Jan 2008 and now Chennai in Dec 2008 would be among the top 5 ( add Port of Spain/1976 and Oval/1971 to make up 5 ??). It has given us all something to cheer about after a dismal year on other fronts.

Posted by nihil on (December 15, 2008, 23:44 GMT)

first of all, my praises go to england, to not only come but play with such purpose is commendable. they dominated 3 and two thirds days of this match. i, a staunch indian supporter was feeling sorry for the english. but the credit has to go to india, i think sehwag made this chase possible if it wasnt for audacious hitting this chase could not have been dreamed of. secondly to tendulkar, another masterclass, he never dissapoints does he , he has singlehandly kept the indian team alive in a game on numerous occasion. but this was something special, the biggest compliment today was given by yuvraj, showing the respect tendulkar has earned. he said something along the lines 'my childhoof dream has been fulfilled to win a testmatch for india batting with tendulkar', enough said. now to yuvraj, i hope now he has the compusore and belief to be the matchwinner he can be, hopefully now the prodigal son of indian cricket has come to his senses. one of the best games in recent memory

Posted by sukh_toronto on (December 15, 2008, 23:28 GMT)

well done india. Dhoni has said after second days play that teams have conceded 100 runs leads and still went on to win. Dhoni's vision has been absolutely spot on. I m sure when England set the target of 387 for India, Dhoni's instruction to Sehwag must have been, if u could score some quick runs we can easily chase the rest. And the plan worked. Dhoni now has 4 out of 4. And Sachin's innings was one, which no true cricket lover would ever forget. I m sure this Indian victory must have helped Mumabikars to foreget those dreadful days (tho for a short period of time).

Posted by doors on (December 15, 2008, 21:50 GMT)

This was a good win for India.Its time India start wining matches than trying to save them.

cheers

Posted by doors on (December 15, 2008, 21:45 GMT)

Finally India seem to be going for the kill.A well deserved victory .England played well but they lacked the final punch .India played hard for three and a half days and then Viru took over.Sehwag is rocking and gave a insight to what he is capable of .Sachin showed his class ,Gambir is a force to deal with and Yuvi found his footing on the day.Anyways the only sore point will be Dravid not making any contribution.But then he is still a part of a winning combination(I know a lot has and will be said on him).Hope he comes good soon.VVS still shows us why he is very very special..he makes batting looks so easy..Credit should be given to the bowlers,who have come of age. Zaheer,Ishant,Harbajan and Mishra did a wonderful job with the ball and also with the bat( over the last few tests).They have backed themselves whenever they are given the ball(Indian bowling looks healthy for sure). Lastly MS Dhoni will be a great player and captain .He is a silent hero for this test..Cheers

Posted by frozeninusa on (December 15, 2008, 21:37 GMT)

One name you forgot to mention, that of MS Dhoni. This would not have happened under Dravid or Kumble. Sehwag was rightly the MOM. This could be a real confidence booster for Yuvraj. And its about time for Dravid. We can't afford a walking wicket at number 3 position.

Posted by ashigoel on (December 15, 2008, 20:59 GMT)

Great win. Everything clicked.. fast paced innings from Sehwag, consolidation by Gambhir, century from Sachin and an excellent innings from Yuvi.. However, bowling can improve a bit more along with fielding.. Overall..a great performance from the whole team (except Dravid..of course!!!!)

Posted by Nampally on (December 15, 2008, 20:39 GMT)

Thanks to England Cricketers who dared the threats from terrorists to play this historic test match, which was a nail biter right up to the end.England were a dominant team for 3.5 days till a magnificient Sehwag totally destroyed that momentum by England with an unbelievable innings of 83 in 68 balls & richly deserved the Man of the Match.That was the turning point of the game. India always believed in their batting Power house. Gambhir, Tendulkar and Yuvraj played brilliantly by rising to the occasion. No doubt Tendulkar's brilliant knock kept one end sealed & had the most telling effect on England. Hence it is rated so highly. England were still in the game even after the dismissal of Laxman. But Yuvraj's fine unbeaten 85 was a critical knock which sealed the deal. Dhoni made the Indian team believe in themselves and once again showed what an inspirational leader he is.England played well but could not raise their game by a notch when the occasion demanded. That was the difference.

Posted by niztec on (December 15, 2008, 20:19 GMT)

Well..very well-written Sambit...but I m actually quite surprised that u have completely over-looked the "Dhoni Factor" in this memorable triumph!! It cannot be a mere coincidence that India has chased down a total which was more than twice its biggest successful chase in Chennai,that Sachin for the first time scored a century in the last innings that resulted in a win,that e/one from the coach to every single player believed that India could actually achieve this "Historically Unlikely Win"! If u recollect at the end of Day 2...When India were way behind Engd's 1st inn.gs total and half the side back,Dhoni showed no signs of panic and very calmly said that if we can get to around 250...then we could concede a lead of 100-odd and still WIN!!That's CONFIDENCE for you!! When the skipper has this kind of Super Confidence and a "Never Say Die Attitude" it is bound to rub on the rest of the team and produce Unprecedented & Spectacular results like the one we witnessed today!!

Posted by hiladi on (December 15, 2008, 18:59 GMT)

Hey siddharthbannerjee1980,

I wonder ...were you saying the same thing about Dravid when he was leading India to all those famous wins? I dont think you have been following cricket for the past 13 years if you think Dravid would have put his interests above those of the team. Either that, or you're just plain prejudiced. Yes, he's out of form, but stop piling on. Don't kick a man when he's down. He has done enough for India to deserve some respect from morons like you.

Posted by shankargg on (December 15, 2008, 18:51 GMT)

well, what a match. what a finish. sachin making 100 and hitting the winning runs simultaneously - there' smthng of a divine intervention in this for sure. thank u god and thank u englandd for turning up - great show of courage. i will remember this gesture of theirs. me andd some friends have started a website www.thoughtarmy.com - a site that asks people to use thought energy to make this tour of england to india, really safe. have alwayss believed that india dint play well for many years bcos indian supporters sent such negative vibes - "ohh will never win" "no killer instinct" etc. so the reverse also holds true right! anyway, the site is not about winning or losing a game - it's about ensuring the courageous players of england and india have a safe tour - y simply willing it to be so!

Posted by baadman_indian on (December 15, 2008, 18:49 GMT)

Another thing i would like to add is that its great that India is winning but they should not just ignore their weak links such as their fielding lots of dropped catches and Dravid's form batting and fielding. Dravid is one of the greats of Indian cricket but currently he is not only having a poor run but his fielding performance is suffering too he has the chance to break the record currently held by M Waugh for most catches but he just seems to lose the focus somehow while batting and fielding. A very BIG concern for India.

Posted by baadman_indian on (December 15, 2008, 18:40 GMT)

I completely agree with Sambit that India were the favourites and should have never allowed themselves to be in such a position. But kudos to team India for registering an emphatic win. It is time to set the record straight (past record).

Posted by KTiwari on (December 15, 2008, 18:09 GMT)

Amazing win. Kudos to the India team and thanks to English team for coming out to play. English team has earned India's love and respect.

Posted by Sidd_India on (December 15, 2008, 18:02 GMT)

Good article! The comments from Kirsten, Harbhajan, Gambhir just goes to show the high that the team is at the moment. For England, there is no shame in losing to a performance like this. Way to go India!

Posted by twelfthmaan on (December 15, 2008, 18:00 GMT)

This is a historic win not just for India, but for test cricket. It forever rewrites how teams should approach the fourth innings -- chase rather than be chased. And one man is responsible for this -- Sehwag -- a man not weighed down by tradition of conservatism that is sprinkled all over test cricket. In a way, he might have just revived test cricket for future generations to enjoy.

Posted by Bumpster on (December 15, 2008, 17:53 GMT)

Hats off to India, they managed a brilliant win today and did it in a very positive manner. I can not imagine them being so positive under Kumble. Under Dhoni they have gone from being average to brilliant in the course of just a few months. His leadership,postiveness,alertness in the field has instilled a new confidence in them, which I've not seen for a long time.Time will tell however, whether they can win overseas and continue their excellent form.

Posted by siddharthbannerjee1980 on (December 15, 2008, 17:53 GMT)

The best thing to happen to India was Dravid getting out early. Otherwise, we would have seen him attempt to "get out of a batting slump", and 50 overs later, the run rate would have been 1.8-2.0. Dravid would have made a laborious 50 odd (from 165 balls) and taken India's chances of a victory down with him. I dont think it's poor Dravid's fault - he's just a conservative sort...After all aren't "walls" supposed to seperate one area from another? In this case, I think it was the difference between victory and defeat.

Posted by identity on (December 15, 2008, 17:43 GMT)

well said sambit ! this win compares to aussies chasing down 369 against pakistan. and windies 342 in 66 overs against english in 80s, both these wins were from teams with supreme confidence and superior skills .. i dare say this indian team has both. how long have i longed to see india play like this .. its a wish come true indeed

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Sambit BalClose
Sambit Bal Editor-in-chief Sambit Bal took to journalism at the age of 19 after realising that he wasn't fit for anything else, and to cricket journalism 14 years later when it dawned on him that it provided the perfect excuse to watch cricket in the office. Among other things he has bowled legspin, occasionally landing the ball in front of the batsman; laid out the comics page of a newspaper; covered crime, urban development and politics; and edited Gentleman, a monthly features magazine. He joined Wisden in 2001 and edited Wisden Asia Cricket and Cricinfo Magazine. He still spends his spare time watching cricket.

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