the great thing about moral victories is that while they might feel a bit unsatisfying they do leave you rather hungry for the real thing. what's more, they also infuse you with the confidence to believe that you have turned the corner and are ready to taste success. after getting out of what - against a better bowling attack - might have looked like their alcatraz of this tour of india, pakistan and, in particular, their makeshift captain younis khan will be waiting for bangalore as eagerly as andrew symonds and company will be awaiting the arrival of sreesanth. to think it all started with one unlikely atlas holding the fort in almost lost cause.
right from inaugural edition of the t20 world cup, which is when he first laid his eyes on the indian attack, misbah has developed an affection for them that ought to make them blush. what he started in the delhi test - but couldn't quite finish - he brought to fruition, appropriately enough, in the garden of eden. and from the looks of it, it needed misbah - and, of all the distinguished batsmen, a sami - to knock sense into the rest of the pakistani batters. so that even though the atlas from mianwali, for once, failed to settle in for the long haul, the two Ys were rejuvenated enough to remind the indian bowlers what they might have to deal with much more of when the gladiators reassemble in bangalore; of course, with help from the inspirational misbah. (if his yousufesque record against india is anything to go by, now that he has failed once, he's due for a big one.)
on reflection, it's quite obvious that india, yet again, missed most the services of an aggressive bowler like rp singh or sreesanth. munaf, notwithstanding his startling dismissal of misbah in the second essay, didn't look like much more than a hardworking trundler. at 150 for 5 in the first innings and down for the count, india needed a better bowler to rattle the likes of akmal. and, crucially, the stumps. for the next test, we believe either rp or sree or, even, the shrewd pathan deserve a look in. in fact, we're not quite certain why pathan - with his ability to out-think the batsman, which would have proved invaluable during periods in the kolkatta test when it looked like the indian attack had run out of fuel and ideas - was not given the nod over munaf in this game. the vote of confidence would have done pathan a world of good in the run-up to the tour of australia - for which, we're convinced, he should be selected. and what about munaf? more about him in another piece.
speaking of pieces, kumble in his post-match piece said moral victories mean nothing to him. perhaps the studious-looking skipper has a point. (because as a studious-looking sort he must.) but we'd like to point this out. without a moral victory, india might not have gone on to win the recently concluded test series in england. without a moral victory in the test series, nasser's flintoff may not have gone on to win england the odi series and bare his chest. and without moral victories, cricket would not be a mind game. but it is. that's why when a team that needs nearly 300 runs to stay in the series does so, in some style, with the help of only one top order batsman and one out-of-form wicket-keeper fighting for his place in the side, it's not just a moral victory. it has all the makings of a momentum shift, the repercussions of which are likely to go some way. maybe all the way down to india's tour of australia.