The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Delight at last in a dust bowl

Mumbai, Nov. 5: 'There's one Indian the Aussies can't beat' is the catchy promotional for a desi beer. After today's stunner at the Wankhede, that will have to be taken off the Marine Drive's most visible hoarding.

Belatedly, 11 Indians have got the better of the No.1 team. The circumstances, however, are going to be debated beyond this season.

'It wasn't an ideal Test, but definitely a great game,' is how a somewhat numbed stand-in captain Rahul Dravid summed up the mayhem .

Of course, given that India pulled off a Ripley's Believe it or Not-worthy 13-run win -- after being bowled out for just 104 in the first innings -- Dravid wasn't complaining.

We must celebrate this moment, but shouldn't get carried away.

The Polly Umrigar-prepared wicket, after all, was pathetic. The top began to come off well before the fourth and final Test ended and, by the incredibly premature close, became a dust bowl.

Being the winning (and home) captain, Dravid had to be diplomatic. So, he remarked the wicket was 'interesting'. Australian captain Ricky Ponting, though, didn't mince anything.

'It wasn't anywhere close to being a Test wicket and left a sour taste. Till this match, the series had been fantastic. I'm not sure whether the ICC must hold an inquiry, but we found it very disappointing,' he blasted.

Yet, Ponting accepted 107 should have been achieved: 'Whatever the conditions, you expect to get that many... We did win the series 2-1 (and the Border-Gavaskar Trophy), but this defeat hurts... You only need to visit our dressing room to see how we've been affected.'

He added: 'That a part-time bowler like Michael Clarke got six wickets doesn't say much about the surface.' Agreed, but that doesn't also show the batsmen in brilliant light.

While the statisticians work out the quickest finishes, the final game of this TVS-sponsored series will largely be remembered for (a) 18 wickets on the second day and (b) 20 wickets on the third, with as many as 13 falling in the final session alone!

Till this afternoon, not once had 20 wickets fallen on a single day of Test cricket in India. Well, Bollywood scriptwriters have been given more than just food for thought.

The remaining two wickets went on Day I but, then, the elements ensured only 11 overs were bowled. Effectively, we witnessed a two-day Test.

Murali Kartik, a stand-out spinner with important wickets in both innings, was adjudged Man of the Match. Speaking to The Telegraph with a hint of emotion, he dedicated that (incidentally, his first such award) to his mother, Shanta, who passed away in 1996.

Damien Martyn, with 444 quality runs in the four Tests, was rightly adjudged Man of the Series. He failed in the last innings, but returns home with a million happy memories.

Ponting, whose solitary appearance in the series ended on such a low note, had felt 'confident' his side would get the target. As for Dravid, who now has two wins standing-in for Sourav Ganguly, he banked on 'self-belief' and the infectious 'never-say-die' attitude.

'I can't feel more proud... I don't know how many teams would win after managing just over a 100 in the first innings. In fact, today, we fought throughout -- in the morning, while batting, and then stopped probably the best line-up from getting 107,' Dravid pointed out.

India began what became the last day on five for no loss and reached 205 courtesy a 91-run partnership for the third wicket between V.V.S. Laxman (69) and Sachin Tendulkar (55).

Out of form for many weeks, Laxman (promoted to No.3) finally came good and carted the selectors' axe into the Arabian Sea.

The innings ended a shade after tea, with Clarke -- who goes back an absolute hero -- returning the best figures (6.2-0-9-6) by any Australian with six wickets. Among all-time performances, using the same yardstick, his is third.

Clarke stuck to the basics and allowed the wicket to do everything.

With Zaheer Khan again providing the breakthrough, the Australians faltered at the start and wickets crumbled quicker than the most delicate cookie.

Harbhajan Singh finished with a fiver (his 14th haul) and, while walking off, appeared to taunt a section of the huge turnout. Talking exclusively, after calming down, he said: 'Kuch log sochte hain we can't win... I wanted to make a point.'

In a nice gesture, Harbhajan has decided to present the stump he collected as a memento to debutant 'keeper Dinesh Karthik.

That the Border-Gavaskar Trophy was received by both Adam Gilchrist (at the helm when the series was clinched) and Ponting also reflected camaraderie.

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