Mumbai, Apr 3 : Gary Kirsten ended his term as the Indian cricket team coach on a euphoric note, guiding the country to an historic World Cup triumph at the Wankhede stadium here on saturday night.
When the South African took over the reins, Indian cricket was on the recovery trail after the tumultuous tenure of Greg Chappell, but as he prepares prepares to leave, Kirsten surely have several reasons to rejoice.
During his hugely successful and path-breaking tenure, India have risen to the summit of Test cricket, by claiming the number one spot, before winning the ultimate prize of the limited-over game - the coveted World Cup.
After the magnificent victory, Suresh Raina fittingly carried the former South African opener on his shoulder for a lap of honour, and he was accompanied by Virat Kohli, in front of 33,000 roaring spectators.
Staying well in the background and not trying to steal the limelight, Kirsten had charted the glorious path for the Men in Blue.
The former Proteas opener, a dour and doughty batsman, brought to the coach's job single-minded dedication and devotion as well as steely determination that helped India scale one peak after another.
India needed Kirsten's calm and assured presence after Kirsten's success mantra lay in giving as much space as they desired to the top Indian players.
It's significant to note that Kirsten's tenure also coincided with the re-emergence of champion batsman Sachin Tendulkar after being troubled by a spate of injuries.
Spearhead Zaheer Khan also rediscovered his form during Kirsten's tenure and has played a major role to the team's success.
The coming-of-age of Gautam Gambhir and Yuvraj Singh, after his own spell of self-doubt, apart from the emergence of youngsters like Virat Kohli and Suresh Raina – in the limited overs format - during his the South African's time also helped India become a superpower.
Though Kirsten can take pride in the fact that Indian batting wears an assured look, in both Tests (with the likes of Rahul Dravid and V V S Laxman around), the same cannot be said of the team's bowling resources because of loss of form and a spate of injuries.
That would be one of the biggest challenges for the man who takes over the reins from Kirsten.But for now, the South African should bask in glory of his boys' success. PTI