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Last Updated: Wednesday, 17 December, 2003, 08:59 GMT
India's unquenchable hunger
Justin Langer
By Justin Langer
Australian Test batsman in Adelaide

If I described the first Test as a tug-of-war between two heavyweights, then those estimations have just magnified to an all-out battle of the giants after Adelaide.

Before a ball was bowled in this series, India were being written off as unbackable underdogs.

But I always felt they were going to be the most serious of contenders.

In Adelaide, India proved they not only have immense talent but also an unquenchable hunger to improve and ultimately win this series.

Steve Waugh wonders where it's all gone wrong in Adelaide
Our skipper wonders where it's all gone wrong in Adelaide

Testament to this is the fact they fought back to win this second Test after we had hammered 556 runs in the first innings.

In many ways there were similarities to Calcutta a few years ago, where India were able to turn around an impossible situation to come up triumphant in the final hour.

Then, they were on the verge of a Test and series defeat when Rahul Dravid and VVS Laxman played the innings of their lives to reverse the momentum and then the result of the game.

Now, it was the same two heroes, or villains depending where your allegiance lies, who stole back the momentum and then the game.

At 80-4, with Sachin Tendulkar out and India trailing by 470 runs, the momentum was running our way.

It seemed like a matter of time before India would crumble.

But, as we experienced before, they weren't ready to crumble but rather fight and fight and fight until history was made.

Dravid's entire match was awesome.

Not only did he bat brilliantly but he also took an amazing catch to dismiss Damien Martyn in our second innings.

His concentration and technique are as good as any player in the world. He seems unflappable at the crease, as if he is in a state of meditation.

At no stage during his marathon innings did he look rushed or under pressure.

We were the ones scratching our heads for a change
We were the ones scratching our heads for a change

He simply played perfectly straight, watched the ball so closely it looked like he was trying to sniff the leather and then dispatched the loose balls that came his way.

Both of his innings were masterpieces in every way.

While he guided the ship, Laxman played some shots that took your breath away.

His wrists are like rubber and he hits the ball so sweetly, that he must be a joy to watch if you are not in the opposition's shoes like we have been in his last few innings against Australia.

There is no doubt that our ability to break up this partnership will be a key factor if we are to win this series from here.

As disappointing as it is to lose, I think it is important that we maintain some perspective on this loss.

It is one of our few losses in Australia in a long time so this is not a time to panic but rather to regroup and refocus on how we can improve and win the next two Test matches.

Apart from a poor second innings showing with the bat, our batting has been outstanding for the last few years.

Ricky Ponting's double century in our first innings was equal to that of Dravid's and he is in incredible form.

Sometimes it takes disappointment and adversity to get better
Justin Langer

The one area that is hurting us as a team is our fielding. A couple of crucial dropped catches could have made a difference in this game.

In the past we have caught everything and as a result the momentum is continually running with us.

Fortunately our fielding can be worked on and we know that the work will be worthwhile because of the importance of this aspect of the game to the result.

Between now and Boxing Day in Melbourne we will have a good hard look at where we are at and use this bitter-tasting defeat to learn from.

Sometimes it takes disappointment and adversity to get better and I am hopeful this loss will be the catalyst behind a similar turnaround to that of India in India three years ago.

If Boxing Day is traditionally a big day in Australian cricket then this one is going to be a monster.

From the Adelaide Oval,
JL



SEE ALSO
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