Indian cricket was in total disarray when it lost its leading men like Mohammad Azharuddin to the match fixing controversy. Indian cricket hit the depths of despair when they lost to Australia in the first Test played in Mumbai. "Success is how high you bounce when you hit bottom", are the immortal words of the American general George S. Patton. Bounce high from the bottom they did and that too with a lot of conviction to win the Test series 2-1.
It took a masterly innings of 281 at the Eden Gardens from VVS Laxman to redeem the lost self-belief. It spurred the whole side to transform from a losing side to a winning combination. The confidence was so abundant that even in spite of the musical chairs of team selection, India could afford to keep their terribly out of form skipper in the side. The loss in the first Test was soon forgotten and they took command, breaking the winning sequence of an all-conquering Australian side. Harbhajan Singh with the ball and Laxman with the bat wrote the script of the most famous Indian victory. "What the caterpillar calls the end of the world, the master calls a butterfly." --- Richard Bach.
The Aussies too found themselves strangled in a knot losing matches one after the other. They lost the first ODI and came back powerfully to take the second one, thanks to the brilliance of Mark Waugh's elegant batting. India won the third match rather comfortably as the Aussies badly missed an injured Mark Waugh. Down 1-2, Australia had to win the remaining two matches to take the ODI series and they did it in great style too. Michael Bevan produced one of his characteristic innings with an unbeaten 87 to secure Australia the Pepsi Trophy. Some wise men had the audacity to brush aside the Australian success; they were of the opinion that it was only "Pyjama cricket".
Bach couldn't have said it better than this; "You are never given a wish without also being given the power to make it true. You may have to work for it, however." It was the supreme Australian self-belief that saw them win the ODI series. All the effort to belittle their ODI success is not honourable at all. As the result suggests, it was a closely fought series with Australia having to overcome a formidable challenge from the Indians.
Indian cricket is on a firm ground now. Steve Waugh's tribute to the Indian team has to be the best: "This team looks pretty confident at the moment and back themselves. They are probably a little more positive and seem to be better organised than any of the Indian teams I have played against in my career. The tough edge that they have discovered helped them overcome difficult circumstances in the Test series and this is why they eventually emerged winners. They won the vital moments in the series, and were deserving winners in the end."
Truth is such an intangible thing. India has not won a Test series abroad for many years now. The last Test series win came about when India beat Sri Lanka in the second Test match at Sinhalese Sports Club Ground, Colombo on the 1st of August 1993. And, the one before that came in 1986 when India beat a demoralised English team who were without the services of Ian Botham, 2-0. Let us face the fact; the Indian cricket team's Test match record overseas has been dismal.
Silicon Valley wouldn't have been what it is, without the enterprising Indians. From Fiji to the Middle East to North America, Indians who have been living abroad have made a mark for themselves, working hard and being successful in almost all walks of life. The Indian cricket team will have a mountain to climb when they visit South Africa in October. But first it is going to be a two Test match series in Zimbabwe in the month of June. Ganguly and his men will have to remember that they carry the hopes and wishes of a billion people. The road to success runs uphill.