| Sachin Tendulkar, Virender Sehwag and VVS Laxman at Wagah. (AFP)
Lahore, April 2: Yesterday, Rahul Dravid declared that Team India’s feet will remain on the ground. Today, he insisted life wouldn’t change, not even after an epoch-making Test win over Pakistan.
“The sun went up yesterday and today and, clearly, is going to rise tomorrow as well.... So, no matter how significant a victory, life doesn’t change,” the stand-in captain told The Telegraph, adding: “What must also remain constant is our focus.... The series isn’t over....”
Even if life won’t change, the usually keyed-up John Wright certainly looked relaxed.
In fact, when one met him at the Pearl Continental, the coach was — believe it or not — in a lungi picked up on the 2001-2002 tour of Sri Lanka!
“It’s comfortable and, so, I wear it once in a while,” Wright, watching LA Confidential on the small screen with more than cursory interest, pointed out smiling.
Looking back and ahead, he said: “Basically, we’ve reached the third stage of our trip.... First was the ODI series, then the Multan game.... Now, we’ve got to win one more Test.... Realistically, if we play to potential, it’s very much on.”
Apparently, that was briefly touched upon during last night’s celebratory dinner at the hotel’s open air Bukhara restaurant. The meal was topped off with meetha paan.
According to Wright, his job includes “ensuring” the players don’t get carried away. In other words, while the battle has been comprehensively won, the war isn’t over. “I’m guided by a Rudyard Kipling poem which includes: ‘If you can meet with triumph and disaster and treat those two imposters just the same...’ Well, it’s important not losing sight of the bigger goal.”
Kipling’s verse finds pride of place in the coach’s well-thumbed black diary.
The Indian victory, by the way, gave Wright “one of the biggest thrills”. As he put it: “When I was a player, I had a role in some firsts by New Zealand — beating England in Wellington (1977-78) on my debut and winning the 1985-86 series in Australia.... Multan will remain special too.”
Wright hates the limelight and it’s rare finding him in photographs, unless there’s something official about it. “I’m comfortable staying away from.... As coach, I only hope to make a small difference,” he explained, adding: “In any case, the players deserve credit.... They are the ones who implement plans.... I’m very happy for this lot because each one of them has worked hard.”
In Wright’s opinion, “no praise” is enough for young Irfan Pathan: “The boy has great attitude.... Others could be more talented, but lack that.... The emerging players, in particular, should learn from his desire to compete and his joy at doing so....”
Today being a day off, the team drove to Wagah for the flag-lowering ceremony, always held with much fanfare at dusk. An add-on was high tea hosted by the Pakistani Rangers. A training session has, of course, been scheduled for tomorrow.
Meanwhile, the media has taken Pakistan’s defeat rather badly. The premier English daily, Dawn, didn’t have a line on page 1, with the others not much better.
The News devoted a couple of paragraphs on the main page, with the story (headlined Humiliation and Disgrace in Multan) continuing inside, while The Nation gave four paragraphs on page 1.
One understands sections of the Urdu press have called for an overhaul at the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB). Their argument being key functionaries must be held accountable for “poor planning”.
It’s tough being the Pakistan captain, tougher calling the shots in the PCB.