Kochi, April 6: The rewriting of a world record.... Equalling of an Indian one.... Winning another one-day series at home.... With so much on one afternoon, captain Rahul Dravid had to get a trifle emotional. Get rewarded, too.
With the calendar packed with cricket, a break is a reward and the selectors have rested Dravid for the next two ODIs (both, by the way, in the east) against England. He will be back for the final one, in Indore, on April 15.
As it turned out, one didn’t have to look beyond the ‘Incredible India’ emblazoned on the bus doing Team India duty to put things in perspective: Incredible, after all, has been our run in limited overs cricket for much of this season.
Today’s four-wicket win made it eight in a row, with this sequence beginning in Rawalpindi eight weeks ago. The record set twice before ' in 1985 (under Sunil Gavaskar and Kapil Dev) and during the 2003 World Cup when Sourav Ganguly was at the helm ' has, therefore, been equalled.
More significantly, the West Indies’ feat of 14 successive victories batting second (scripted over 21 months in 1985-86) got consigned to the bottom of the Kochi harbour. India’s remarkable run began in Zimbabwe, seven months ago, with the first two wins under Sourav. The rest have been in the Dravid era.
The unbeatable 4-0 lead over England came without the services of Sachin Tendulkar. Then, Virender Sehwag (now stand-in captain) and Mohammed Kaif hardly contributed. The latter, in fact, failed again and his one-day scores this year have been: 8, 5 not out, 0, 0, 4, 0, 0, 5.
Even if he’s embarrassed, the selectors aren’t.
According to Dravid, Sehwag and Kaif have been “contributing” and all the attention must not exclusively be on their scores. Reflecting on his third series victory, he said: “We were under pressure at different times, but always fought back. That, for me, has been the highlight.”
A fortnight ago, after the Mumbai Test, the Andrew Flintoffs were cock-a-hoop and the Indian shoulders had begun to droop. Yet, somebody or the other put his hand up to be counted and the Champions Trophy runners-up stumbled and tumbled Delhi onwards.
Perhaps, Dravid helped take some of the pressure off his players by telling them they “shouldn’t” worry about the results but look to “improve” individually and collectively.
Dravid has himself been improving ' as a captain. Holding back the second and third power plays today was a gamble, but it was calculated (keeping in mind the heat and humidity) and it paid off.
Yuvraj Singh bagged his second MoM award in four days. He had told The Telegraph yesterday that a change in his “thought process” was making the difference. That was evident.