NEW DELHI (AFP) — The Indian media joined former players in saluting the brilliant win over Australia in Perth, saying it was the cricket-mad nation's greatest Test victory.
Leading newspapers front-paged Saturday's 72-run triumph in the third Test on Australia's favourite hunting ground that ended the world champions' 16-match winning streak.
For most, it seemed the perfect response after the acrimonious second Test in Sydney which ended with Indian captain Anil Kumble saying "only one team was playing in the spirit of the game."
India, having lost the Sydney match in the penultimate over of the final day, were angered by dubious umpiring and the three-Test ban handed out to Harbhajan Singh for alleged racial abuse towards Andrew Symonds.
Former captain and batting great Sunil Gavaskar was convinced it was India's greatest Test win since he began playing international cricket in 1970.
"For a team to come back after being 2-0 down in the world champions' own backyard and win on what is regarded as the fastest wicket in the world is an unbelievable achievement," Gavaskar said on television.
"I have not seen anything like this in the last 40 years."
Gavaskar's sentiment was shared by the Hindustan Times whose front page headline read: "Ecstasy - India's greatest Test win ever."
"In a way it all began in Sydney," the newspaper's correspondent wrote. "Done in by atrocious umpiring and reeling from the three-match ban on Harbhajan Singh, Team India closed ranks.
"Perth, reputedly the world's fastest pitch, was supposed to be Australia's impregnable bastion, the battleground where India would be humiliated.
"Instead, the entire squad combined to script one of the most romantic tales in a sport replete with instances of the improbable - and posted one of India's finest victories ever."
"Indians Fix Cocky Aussies", screamed the banner headline in the Mail Today tabloid, adding "it was sweet revenge after being done in by the umpires in Sydney."
"Aussies knocked off their Perth," said the Times of India while the Indian Express called it the "Sweetest Revenge."
The Hindu wrote: "Divorced from context, the third Test rates as a fabulous game of cricket, contested by two exceptionally gifted sides.
"Seen in the light of last fortnight's tumult, its significance is elevated. The firmness of purpose India exhibited had a certain nobility to it."
Former captain Kapil Dev, who led India to its only limited-overs World Cup title in 1983, said Kumble's team deserved all the accolades that came its way.
"One of the best no doubt, but Kolkata was better," the legendary all-rounder said, referring to the 2001 series in which India fought back to record a 2-1 win over Steve Waugh's Australians.
Having lost the first Test and made to follow-on 274 runs behind in the second Test in Kolkata, the Indians rode on an extraordinary 281 from Venkatsai Laxman to turn the tables on the world conquering Aussies.
The Indians not only ended a previous 16-match winning streak by the Australians, but went on to win the final Test in Chennai, prompting Waugh to dub India as the "final frontier."
Kapil hoped Kumble's side will go on to win the final Test starting in Adelaide on Thursday and square the series 2-2.
"The boys should not let up from here," he said. "The entire country is behind them and there is no reason why we cannot win in Adelaide where the wicket suits us."
India had won the Adelaide Test on the previous tour of Australia in 2003-04 under Sourav Ganguly's captaincy.
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