Turnaround Tales

Virat Kohli

Virat Kohli’s India has some instances to look back to and feel inspired, DANFES reports

The hallmark of a great team and a great leader is the ability to turn things around. Not many are able to do so and elevate themselves to the category of `great’. It is a rather thin line between good and great and most teams, when put under pressure, tend to crumble and give way. Not so Virat Kohli. After the rather unexpected 63-run defeat in Galle in August 2015 when India had dominated the bulk of the Test match, Kohli’s men had the most amazing of home runs with 19 unbeaten matches in India. The leader led from the front scoring 1000-plus runs and Ravi Ashwin and Ravi Jadeja emerged as the world’s most potent spin duo in the year and a half that followed the disaster at Galle. Can they yet again do something stellar in the aftermath of the Pune debacle? Can Virat turn things around one more time in Bengaluru? He does have a few very Indian instances to look back to and feel inspired.

Here are the top three miracle turnarounds from India’s recent cricket history:

EDEN GARDEN 2001

Sourav Ganguly, by his own admission, did not have a strategy. Nor did he believe that his team had the ability to stop Australia’s incredible and all conquering run. This belief was reinforced after the mauling in Mumbai where Adam Gilchrist literally toyed with the Indian spinners en route a fantastic hundred. Hayden did his bit and the match was over in three and a half days. Come Kolkata and Ganguly, without the services of Kumble and Srinath, had to rely on what he calls “Sourav Ganguly luck.”

“I did not get up from my chair for close to six hours. Laxman and Dravid were just batting like men possessed and all I was doing was saying to me, one more session. Eventually both of them were on saline at the end of the day because of dehydration. Both had lost a huge amount of fluid and had to be put on drips to recover.”

Even on Day 5 he wasn’t sure if the miracle was possible. “Australia went into tea with just three down. And just before tea I dropped Steve Waugh at leg slip. While walking back he smiled at me and said you’re not winning this Test. Soon after tea he edged one more to backward short leg and the rest is history. Once we had beaten them in Kolkata we knew they wouldn’t be able to come back at Chennai. The tables had turned and we had the momentum to go past them.”

WORLD CUP 2003

Sourav did the trick one more time, thanks to a series of incredible performances from Sachin Tendulkar and his bowling trio of Srinath, Nehra and Zaheer Khan at the 2003 World Cup in South Africa. India went into the World Cup at the back of a disastrous ODI series in New Zealand and lost both of their warm up matches to South African provincial sides a week ahead of the tournament.

And against Australia, the Indians just capitulated. No one managed to negotiate the pace of McGrath and Co and the result was a foregone conclusion. The match resulted in a serious backlash at home and Mohammed Kaif’s home in UP was attacked by angry fans. In the words of Tendulkar, “It was one of those moments. We had to do it for ourselves and our fans. Time was running out and it was then or never. I am delighted we managed to put together an un beaten eight-match winning streak and make the final.”

India did play some stellar cricket in the next eight games and in the process won a famous battle against arch rivals Pakistan at Centurion to make the World Cup final. This turnaround, yet again, was a prod uct of self belief. “We knew we had the team to do it. And once we had beaten England and Pakistan there was no stopping us”, said Sachin.

PERTH 2008

The third miracle was scripted by the current coach of the national team, Anil Kumble at Perth in the immediate aftermath of the Monkey-gate scandal in Australia in January 2008. Things had reached fever pitch post Monkey-gate and the Perth Test had assumed extra cricketing significance. Australia threatened to unleash Shaun Tait on the Indians and it was said that Tait, bowling 160kmph, would just blow the Indians away. Players from the two teams weren’t even on speaking terms for a while and if there was ever a Test match the Indians wanted to win, it was this one at the WACA, the hallowed fortress of Australian dominance.

The victory was sweeter because every senior pro played a hand in it. Kumble picked his 600th Test wicket while Rahul Dravid and Sachin Tendulkar buckled down to negate the Tait threat. And then the young trio of RP Singh, Ishant Sharma and man of the match Irfan Pathan did the job with the ball. Monkeygate had been forgotten and the Indians had all but redeemed themselves after two disastrous Test matches.

Can Virat do a Sourav or a Kumble? Rather, can he do what he did post Galle? Very rarely is a home Test played to this much interest.