Melbourne, Dec. 25: The customary pre-match dinner had to be scrapped as most star-category restaurants were closed and the others couldn't accommodate the huge Team India contingent.
While Victoria may be The Place To Be In, its not exactly advisable to spend Christmas in the states capital. No matter how seducing the promotional brochures.
With no team dinner, a toast couldnt be raised for Sourav Ganguly in the lead-up to his 100th Test. He didnt mind and spent time with Dona and Sana as also the family of a dear friend, the Colombo-based Rajen Udeshi.
Im quite relaxed... Im not getting carried away, Sourav told The Telegraph, insisting that the sauve mein sau demand hadnt put him under more pressure than hed bargained for
A shade over a year ago, of course, few would have imagined Sourav would actually be becoming the seventh Indian in a highly exclusive club. Determination and amazing self-belief, though, worked wonders.
Well, Team India will require oodles of both if the No. 1-ranked Australians are to be beaten in their own backyard in the four-Test series beginning tomorrow.
While its debatable whether one must spend Christmas in Melbourne, nobody will dispute that the MCG is pretty much synonymous with Boxing Day.
The Indians may have won the last Test against Australia, in Mumbai three years ago, but no captain has ever returned victorious from Down Under.
The passionate Anil Kumble wishes to change that, but is aware of just how challenging it will be. Hes not, however, short on confidence and believes he has the ammo to knock down Ricky Ponting and his men.
Theres no Sreesanth in the touring party, but Kumble and Co. should still remember battles over the 22 yards aren't won by a show of aggression, put on or otherwise. Youve got to deliver, with bat and ball.
Equally, theres little space for sentiment alone at the highest level in sport.
The Big Five — Sachin Tendulkar, Sourav, Rahul Dravid, V.V.S.Laxman and Kumble himself — wont be touring Australia again and theyve got to use this to lift their performances even more.
Its all in their hands and the time, indeed, has come to raise the bar.