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Last Updated: Tuesday, 16 December, 2003, 11:50 GMT
India lay ghosts of the past to rest
By Oliver Brett
BBC Sport

Indian fans in Adelaide were watching history in the making
Indian fans in Adelaide were watching history in the making

India's Test win in Adelaide will be cheered by neutral cricket fans the world over but most of all in the country where the game has its biggest fan base.

Two-and-a-half years ago, on home soil, India came back from 1-0 down to win a three-Test series 2-1 against Steve Waugh's virtually invincible side.

In the intervening period, the closest anybody else came to beating Australia was when New Zealand drew a rain-affected series with their trans-Tasman rivals 0-0.

Two years ago, South Africa were expected to give the Aussies a run for their money but were sent packing at home and away.

And the less said about England's recent attempts to win the Ashes the better.

But for many of those fans in India still basking in the joy of the wins in Calcutta and Madras in early 2001, the current tour of Australia was always another proposition altogether.

They were, however, given hope when India drew the first Test in Brisbane with relative comfort.

Ricky Ponting's 242 in Adelaide was the highest ever score by an individual on a losing Test team
Australia's first innings total - 556 - was the third highest score by a team who went on to lose the match
India's win was their first win in Australia since 1981 and their first win ever at the Adelaide Oval
It was only their seventh win in 69 Tests away from home

But their chief aim in Adelaide would also have been a draw when they went into the match without arguably their two best bowlers.

Off-spinner Harbhajan Singh and left-arm seamer Zaheer Khan were both ruled out with injury.

Anil Kumble, who did not even play in Brisbane, took five wickets in the first innings while Ajit Agarkar, promoted to open the bowling, took 6-41 in the second innings.

The match-winner, though, was certainly Rahul Dravid, who hit 305 runs in the match and was only dismissed once.

In the World Cup in March, India reached the final before being pulverised by Australia at Johannesburg's intimidating Wanderers Stadium.

In November, Australia beat India again in a tri-series final in Calcutta and if any psychological boost was needed before the Test matches, the Aussies had it in spades.

But India showed that while they may have been beaten they were certainly not bowed into submission.

Agarkar and Dravid come together as victory is secured
Agarkar and Dravid come together as victory is secured

Fans and journalists following the team have even been subjected to racist abuse from the home supporters in Adelaide. But perhaps that steeled the players to up their game.

It was only the eighth time that a side hitting more than 500 batting first had gone on to lose the game.

One of the reasons they did lose was that India have become the only team who are not frightened of hitting really big scores of their own against them.

The Boxing Day Test in Melbourne will now be what it should be.

In recent years, over-stuffed Victorians have sunbathed in the stands watching facile beatings over teams who are no longer contesting the series.

But this time it will be the keenest battle of wills imaginable.

Both teams will hope to boast stronger bowling attacks with Glenn McGrath and Brett Lee waiting in the wings for the Aussies and Harbhajan and Zaheer perhaps available for India.

Whatever happens in Melbourne, Waugh will know his final Test as captain, beginning on 2 January in Sydney, will be anything but the gentle cakewalk it might have been.

Indian captain Sourav Ganguly
"We knew we had to lift our game to win in Australia"

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