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Winning edge of controversy
- king prawn at dinner, hussain before lunch

Leeds, Aug. 26: As soon as Sourav Ganguly stepped into the Jade Unicorn last night, the manager reminded him that his last meal there was on the eve of his blistering 128 the other day.

That his trip to the upmarket Cantonese restaurant had, indeed, brought luck.

Well, Sourav had barely smiled when the gentleman added: “However, whenever the Sri Lankans have come, they’ve invariably lost at Headingley....”

Even though India couldn’t ever have lost the third Test, so superstitious is Sourav he almost decided to go elsewhere.

It actually took some persuading from wife Dona and the others to get the Indian captain to stay on. Sourav remained pretty tense throughout, but still quite enjoyed the fried king prawn green pepper in black bean sauce and the mixed fried rice.

“I hope I don’t have a sleepless night,” was Sourav’s farewell line. As it turned out, he slept “well” and India won big and quick at Headingley today. It certainly made the Indian expats’ summer. So much so, many among the thousands took out dhols and couldn’t resist the bhangra.

Proudly flaunting the Tricolour, they weren’t bothered about the Norman Tebbitts. What mattered was rejoicing in India’s finest hour overseas.

In fact, England suffered an innings and 46-run defeat (the biggest ever) — that, too, at the very ground India last won in England, in 1986. With Andrew Caddick’s dismissal coming seven minutes before lunch, the third Test didn’t go past the first session on the fifth day.

“In the past 15 months, we’ve won four Tests overseas (the earlier ones being Bulawayo, Kandy and Trinidad).... While all wins outside the country are special, this will remain more so because of the margin.... Because of the way we held the upper hand throughout,” Sourav told The Telegraph.

Opposite number Nasser Hussain, who completed a defiant hundred (110), acknowledged his team was “outplayed in all departments”. Never one to offer excuses, he added: “More than where we went wrong, we should credit India with an exceptional performance...”

Rahul Dravid was adjudged Man of the Match for a brilliantly-composed 148. Coming to bat at one down for eight, Dravid only left at 335 for three. By then, England were cornered.

“Rahul is one of the greats of the modern time and I doubt if I’ve seen a better Test innings,” is how Sourav saluted his vice-captain.

With the series now 1-1, the decider at The Oval (from September 5) should be an absolute cracker. Given the turbo-powered Indian performance here, though, India are favourites to win their first series outside the subcontinent since that 1986 success in England. That fourth and last Test will, by the way, be Sachin Tendulkar’s 100th.

Sourav, of course, isn’t going overboard. “I don’t like predicting.... Where I’m concerned, we must maintain our intensity.”

Incidentally, the significance of this absolutely awesome win at Headingley goes beyond this present series. Now, more than ever before, it will be impossible for the Board of Control for Cricket in India to send an alternative squad for next month’s Champions Trophy. The pressure on Jagmohan Dalmiya to find a solution to the Player Terms imbroglio has increased manifold.

Asked if the controversy had brought the team together, Sourav grinned and replied: “We just played very good cricket.... If that (controversy serving as an adhesive) really was so, then, before every match...” Realising that the issue is sensitive, the captain didn’t complete his sentence.

In effect, it was another good Sourav move.

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