Calcutta: Almost three hours after Harbhajan Singh had picked up the last Pakistani wicket to fall on the final day, Sourav Ganguly made his way out of the Eden. A sizeable gathering still waited eagerly to catch a glimpse of the players. The sudden rise in decibel level was not to be missed as he made an appearance.
The Team India captain was left basking in the glory of Sunday's 195-run victory inside the dressing room even as his teammates had rushed to take the flight to Bangalore. The manner in which Pakistan capitulated may have taken him by surprise, though Anil Kumble's match-winning seven for 63 (match haul of 10 for 161) was business as usual for the leg-spinner.
Rahul Dravid bagged the Man-of-the-Match award but it was a joint effort from the Bangalore-based duo that led to India taking 1-0 lead in the TVS Cup. Besides being Kumble's best here, it was also India's maiden win over Pakistan at Eden Gardens.
Back in Pakistan, there will be renewed calls for Bob Woolmer's head, but the coach can hardly be blamed for the debacle. The Pakistani batsmen were mentally not up there to face the test. The pressure was enormous after the first-ball loss of Younis Khan and Inzamam-ul Haq's departure. The youngsters were found short on confidence and collapsed in a heap.
Kumble has always lived up to the challenge and it was no different. Younis was fooled by one that drifted down the leg as he stepped out. The Indians were looking for this sort of an opening to a deciding day and were ecstatic.
Eight overs later, it was Inzamam's turn to depart. The bails were knocked down once the ball rolled from the bat and pad onto the stumps. The Indians knew it was only a matter of time before the rest of the batsmen collapsed.
Yousuf Youhana's bat-pad trickle was taken well by Gautam Gambhir.
Sourav always excels in such circumstances. The attacking field placing with five men around the bat and a double spin attack made it really tough for the batsmen. Both Kumble and Harbhajan were bowling a superb line and getting the ball to turn and jump. The change in pace and trajectory was baffling.
The circumstances were also a test for Kumble's fitness. Bowling 32 overs in the prevalent sultry conditions was no mean task and very rarely did he err in length.
Harbhajan was slightly sluggish to start with. Lack of match practice and the fact that he was back with a changed action did hamper his rhythm for a while, but once things began to fall in place, he too played his part.
The late-order Pakistan resistance had made it tough in Mohali but here the Indians were determined to set the record straight. But to suggest that it was a Kumble show would be doing grave injustice.
Apart from Harbhajan, it was also Lakshmipathy Balaji who managed to extract life from a slow track. His comeback has been remarkable, having already managed to grab 12 wickets in the series so far. The pacer removed Taufeeq Umar with a perfect outswinger to which the opener was forced to offer the edge.
Asim Kamal tried to put up a semblance of resistance as he made the most of having survived a dropped chance by Dravid at first slip off Harbhajan. It was a grim battle but he managed to hold one end up for a while.
But by then Pakistan were looking down the barrel and Kamal's effort was surely not convincing enough to pull off a miracle.