January 20, 2008 / 5:25 AM / 12 years ago

Cricket-India hail team's spectacular Perth victory

MUMBAI, India, Jan 20 (Reuters) - India hailed their cricket team’s spirit to recover from the controversies of the second test and record a remarkable victory against top-ranked Australia with a day to spare in the third in Perth on Saturday.

“One little moment during India’s post-win celebrations on Saturday underlined why Perth is as much a victory for national pride as it is significant for cricketing milestone,” national daily Times of India said on Sunday, a day after the remarkable 72-run victory.

“The frenzied figure of Harbhajan Singh, the eye of the storm at Sydney and excluded from the playing eleven here, running out with the tricolour, chased by ecstatic fans, straight into the arms of waiting team mates.”

India had threatened to call off the tour after off-spinner Harbhajan was handed a three-test ban for alleged racist abuse of all rounder Andrew Symonds at Sydney, where poor umpiring had ruined their chances of scoring a series-levelling victory.

“This was the charge of a slighted India, nursing hurt, betrayal, anger, exorcising the demons with that most elusive and sweetest of statements.

“A slap in the face of Aussie arrogance, achieved on the cricket field. In the opposition’s citadel, with a clinical display of skill. It doesn’t get better than this.”

INVINCIBLE AURA

India’s victory brought Australia’s world record-equalling 16-match winning run to a stunning end and kept alive the tourists’s hopes of squaring the four-test series.

It was Australia’s first test defeat since the fourth Ashes match against England at Trent Bridge in Aug. 2005.

The last time Australia lost a test at home was against India at Adelaide in Dec. 2003, a remarkable series that ended in a 1-1 draw.

“None of India’s previous 29 away test wins had as much riding on it before a ball was bowled. No one single game since Ricky Ponting took over the Australian captaincy has caused as much damage to his team’s aura of invincibility.” the paper added.

“Oz brought down to Perth,” screamed the headline in national daily Hindustan Times, where former Australia captain Ian Chappell wrote in a syndicated column that India’s victory indicates a change in mindset.

“The once great divide that characterised these two teams —- the inability to compete away from home —- has closed like an unhinged door in the last few years,” Chappell wrote.

“Under Ricky Ponting, Australia broke their hoodoo and won a series in India for the first time in 35 years. Now Anil Kumble has led a vibrant side to an inspired victory at the WACA, the bouncy graveyard of many touring side, not just India.”

The final test starts in Adelaide on Thursday. (Reporting by Sanjay Rajan; Editing by John O’Brien)

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