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banner Thursday, 15 March, 2001, 11:56 GMT
Engineer hails 'miracle'
Former Indian wicket-keeper Farokh Engineer
Engineer played in 46 Tests in the 1960s and 70s
Former Indian wicket-keeper Farokh Engineer has lavished praise on the current team following their astonishing victory over Australia in the Calcutta Test.

He said the outcome was "nothing short of a miracle" after India had been made to follow on after trailing by 274 runs on first innings.

It was Indian cricket's greatest day since they won the 1983 World Cup final at Lord's.

"It's absolutely fantastic. I'm so proud of the boys. It was such a tremendous performance, such a tremendous fightback," he told BBC Sport Online.

India lost the first Test in Mumbai, Australia's 16th successive Test win, and the team came in for outspoken criticism in the media.

"You would have expected Australia to win again. They've got the best spin attack in the world, the best fast attack, the best batsmen, the best fielders - they are a complete unit.

Vangipurappu Laxman acknowledges applause at the end of his innings of 281
Laxman re-wrote the Indian record books

"They are a winning machine and to trounce them will certainly have given India a lot of confidence. I hope the critics eat their words.

"It's very easy to sit in an armchair and criticise. You don't make many mistakes in an armchair, but out there in the middle, it's very different," said Engineer.

Batsmen Vangipurappu Laxman, whose innings of 281 was the best in a Test by an Indian, and Rahul Dravid were the key figures for the home side, along with off-spinner Harbhajan Singh.

"I'm going to Sharjah next month and I'm looking forward to shaking Laxman by the hand and telling him what a great job he did.

"I've always rated Darvid as a very fine players. To score 180 after being dropped down the order shows tremendous character, tremendous fight and resilience," Engineer added.

Singh's match figures of 13 for 196, including a hat-trick, provided a marked contrast to Australian leg-spinner, who bowled 34 overs in India's second innings to take one for 152.

Harbhajan Singh was India's match-winner in only his 10th Test appearance
Harbhajan strikes to dismiss Ricky Ponting

"Spinners have never held any fear for Indian batsmen because our boys use their feet and go to the pitch of the ball. That's bred into you - smell the ball, don't allow it to turn," Engineer explained.

The match was also a personal triumph for Indian captain Sourav ganguly, the target for much of the criticsm which followed the game in Mumbai.

"It's like Brazil and football. Cricket is a religion in India. They take it so personally. Ganguly was getting a lot of flak, but today he'll be the Mayor of Calcutta.

"That's how it is on the sub-continent. One day you're right on top but if you do something wrong, you get some stick," said Engineer.

The two teams now travel to Chennai for the third and deciding Test, which starts on Sunday.

So who does Engineer think will win there?

""It's wide open. Australia's confidence will have been shaked and stirred, while India will feel 'We can do it.'

"This was a tremendous feat. It wasn't against a third-rate cricket country . It was against the world champions, who were on a roll, who believe in themselves and had got the winning habit."

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