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banner Monday, 12 March, 2001, 19:39 GMT
Fated and feted in Calcutta
Jason Gillespie and Steve Waugh
Gillespie (l) and Waugh turned the Test Australia's way
Australian batsman Justin Langer sends his latest postcard from the tour of India, after his side seize the initiative in the second Test.

Do you believe in fate?

If so, you would be forgiven for seeing Steve Waugh's century at Eden Gardens as just that.

William Shakespeare couldn't have written a better script fully embodying the power and respect that our captain commands here in the fascinating city of Calcutta.

His work with the Udayan children's charity and his pure batting mastery, has him set high on a god-like pedestal in Calcutta.

A Test century in front of 80-90,000 adoring fans was almost like a reward for the joy he brings to millions of people in this country, and more specifically, in this city.

When he and Jason Gillespie walked out to face the first ball of the second day's play, we were hoping for maybe another 30 to 50 extra runs.

Steve Waugh of Australia
Waugh: Worshipped in Calcutta

As it turned out, they batted for three hours, taking our score from a respectable 300-plus to a daunting 445 in the first innings.

Their partnership was another example of the astounding team performances that we have been able to produce over the last 18 months.

Having been quizzed so many times about the reasons for our winning streak of 16 Test victories, I guess one of the main factors is the fact that in times of trouble someone, or some partnership, has produced something magnificent.

Whether with the bat or ball, the player or players have taken the momentum away from the opposition and turned the game back to our favour.

It has been simply phenomenal how these outstanding individual performances have led to the mind-blowing run of team consistency.

Top batsman

Once again, Steve Waugh showed why he is the world's number one batsman.

Starting the day at 26, he finished with one of the great Test innings and 110 runs under his belt.

His reaction of elation showed how much it meant to him to score a century in front of one of the most exciting crowds of supporters in international cricket.

If yesterday was noisy and packed, today was certainly the biggest crowd I have ever played in front of.

Out in the middle it was like being lost in a sea of colours, faces, noises and smells.

The experience of cricket at Eden Gardens is hard to describe, although I will say it is a thrill and a prize for playing cricket at the highest level.


Having India eight wickets down and still 320 runs behind was beyond our wildest imaginations when we took the field before tea
  Justin Langer

So exciting were the afternoon's proceedings that despite the massive crowd and thunderous noise, the Australian cricket team were playing in our own little world out in the centre.

With the ball reverse swinging from early on in the Indian innings, we always felt that we could apply strangling pressure to our opponents.

Batting at this level is about playing under intense pressure, as India would have felt today.

The luxury of two great bowlers, an aspiring superstar, and a workhorse with a heart as big as Australia, means any opponent will always find batting nothing less than hard work, even on the flattest of surfaces.

Dream scenario

Having India eight wickets down still 320 runs behind was beyond our wildest imaginations when we took the field before tea.

But then again, some of the wildest imaginations have become a part of the consistent success of this team over the last 18 months.

From experience, we will not be getting too carried away with today's performance and we will be expecting a tough fightback from India tomorrow.

We know we have a glorious opportunity to secure this series and achieve an ambition strongly embedded within this squad.

Having said that, there will be no complacency until the last 12 Indian wickets have fallen and we have scored any necessary runs for a victory.

From Calcutta,
JL

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See also:

12 Mar 01 |  India v Australia
India rattled by Waugh century
11 Mar 01 |  India v Australia
Singh hat-trick stuns Aussies
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