The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Eye on Pearl Harbor, sights on rubber
- After Adelaide, Sourav’s mind is locked to one target: series win

Hobart, Dec. 17: While savouring yesterday’s spectacular victory in Adelaide, Sourav Ganguly made the point about the dressing room being a hub of happiness. In fact, he drew a parallel with the last trip, four years ago, when a string of defeats forced a depressed look.

That joie de vivre was on view this afternoon, too, when Team India needed two Qantas flights to arrive here via Melbourne. Rarely has one seen such an upbeat demeanour — the closest probably being the mood after thrashing Pakistan in the World Cup — and the captain must be handed credit.

Yet, on the morning after, Sourav was intent on looking ahead, not back. “Will Jason Gillespie be fit for Melbourne (third Test)'” he asked even as The Telegraph sought a comment on his emotions a day after scripting history. Actually, without waiting for a reply, Sourav himself answered: “Can’t see him playing.... A groin strain takes a fortnight.... So, Brett Lee, Andy Bichel and possibly Nathan Bracken will be the quicks...”

It’s an indication of how obsessed Sourav has become with plotting an unprecedented Test series win in Australia.

Incidentally, while channel-surfing in his studio apartment, he stopped at Movie One where Pearl Harbor was being telecast. Only, India’s most successful captain’s mind was elsewhere.

Cut to the flights earlier in the day and, really, Sachin Tendulkar looked the most relaxed he has been on this tour. Obviously, the Oval victory has made a difference and the two Tests that remain could see the little maestro at his best.

For example, on the hour-long Boeing 717-200 flight from Melbourne to Hobart, Sachin and Adelaide hero Rahul Dravid were on either side of the aisle and kept chatting. Indeed, much of the talking was by Sachin. From speaking about $600 earphones to friend Michael Schumacher’s brilliance...

In between, both appeared to talk cricket as well. And, for variety, there was some advice for Ajit Agarkar (sitting a row in front) who was bowled over by a Bang & Olufsen ad for speakers in the in-flight magazine.

Later, when Sourav walked up, Sachin shifted to the adjoining seat, allowing the captain to join the tête-à-tête.

On reaching here, of course, Dravid was the most sought after. In a touching gesture, a group of Australians clapped as the vice-captain stepped into the arrival lounge. The media was also in attendance and one of the first questions was whether Test cricket had become “easy” for him.

“It never is,” Dravid responded, dismissing a suggestion that Steve Waugh’s team didn’t show “enough respect” to the Indians. “On the last three days, we played better... That, more than anything else, made the difference,” he explained in his calm and articulate manner.

Dravid, however, won’t be featuring in the three-dayer versus Australia A. After nearly 14 hours at the crease at the Oval, he deserves a break in picturesque (but chilly) Hobart. As pre-arranged, wife Vijeeta will be joining him next week.

The win, by the way, was formally celebrated with dinner at the Flavour of India here. It was put on hold as most of the players were exhausted after their Adelaide effort. Quite a few didn’t glance through the morning’s papers either, or else, would have seen the largely positive coverage with considerable space devoted to Sourav’s push for emerging the No. 1 team.

The captain, though, is still off newspapers. “Good or bad, I’m not reading,” he insisted.

While Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee had telephoned yesterday itself — the first call, from a PMO official, came even before Dravid got the winning runs — leader of the Opposition Sonia Gandhi faxed a congratulatory message this afternoon.

Everything was in order, except that it was addressed to “Sourav Ganguli”.

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