Adelaide, 16 December 2003
When Rahul Dravid walked out to bat less than half an hour into the final morning at the Adelaide Oval, he knew that India were on the threshold of something special. Ajit Agarkar's unexpected six-wicket haul the previous afternoon had set up a target of 230 runs, and by the time Dravid emerged to rapturous applause from the Indian support, Aakash Chopra and Virender Sehwag had already whittled off 48.
Dravid had scripted an epic 233 in the first innings, adding 303 with VVS Laxman, but he needed a kiss from Dame Fortune to get going on the final day. Brad Williams had injured his left shoulder, but he toiled heroically, and when Dravid had made just 9, a perfectly pitched delivery on off stump flew off the edge. Adam Gilchrist grassed the chance, and though Williams continued to trouble him with reverse-swing, Dravid wasn't to be denied. He added 70 with Sachin Tendulkar, and as nails were being bitten to the quick, Laxman came out and caressed a lovely 32-run cameo. Simon Katich's left-arm spin induced a couple more flutters, but fittingly the last act was to feature the two men who had done so much to ease the path to victory.
As Agarkar watched from the non-striker's end, Dravid cut a Stuart MacGill delivery through point. There was a yell of delight and a clenched fist, and Steve Waugh made it a point to pick the ball out of the gutter and hand it over to a man who embodied the warrior spirit that he himself personified.
Dileep Premachandran is an associate editor at Cricinfo
This article was first published in the print version of Cricinfo Magazine