Tuesday, October 21, 2008

India - Number one?

India - Number 1?

Well, just take a look at these facts- Winner of the Twenty-Twenty World Cup, Winner of the under-19 World Cup, winning the CB series in Australia- defeating the number one team twice in a row in the 2 finals, excellent performance in the Test Matches as well.

So is this Indian Cricket team the number one in the world right now? Logically if you are better than the number one team, or defeat it, then you automatically become number one. But is India better than Australia, which is still number one in the rankings?......
 Unfortunately Cricket is not like a race where you become number one by overtaking the first one. Undoubtedly this Indian team’s performance is as good as any performance by any Indian team ever in the past. Its record of winning overseas has improved really drastically over the past few years specially from the time Ganguly was the captain.
India which was earlier an impregnable side in its own backyard hasn’t been exactly that over the past few years but earlier its overseas performance which used to be so pathetic has improved in leaps and bounds. It has done well in Pakistan, South Africa( World Cup 2003 and Twenty-twenty world cup), England( with the swing bowlers having a swinging time there), and now Australia too. Only New Zealand and West Indies remain the two places India hasn’t quite come to terms with as yet according to me.
In fact a lot of wonderful fast bowlers have come up who have relished the helpful pitches and that’s a major reason why India has done well overseas now. India I believe is the best Asian side now and the Asian team with the best look in other forms as well. Pakistan the ever mercurial side is still that and Sri Lankan side now I think revolves around a few individuals which was the situation with India for quite some time.
Undoubtedly this win in Australia would go down as one of the best ever performances by any Indian team but more importantly what this team went through in terms of even the off-field controversies and the pressures related to it, crossing swords with the best team in their own backyard, taking on the most aggressive side, fighting the trend or jinx of losing in the finals etc this team really deserved to win and you can only imagine what it must have done for the confidence of this young team.

You really have to admire Dhoni, he hasn’t been playing that long for India, a young man not from a Metro, who rose to fame almost instantly and everybody’s favourite and idol, he has taken it up all very well and done his job remarkably. His attitude, trusting his instincts, backing his players and winning the close matches is like a fresh breeze. Irfan Pathan’s last over in the 2nd Final, Joginder Sharma’s final over in Twenty-20 final and a few more, India has become a side that wins close games which is inversely proportional to the fear of losing. The more you are thinking about the future and the consequences of losing the more the chances that you will lose. The team selection and the batting order has been almost spot on more times than not and again the credit for this should go to Dhoni. And what can one say about Sachin Tendulkar. I don’t think anyone has the right to comment on him but still his contribution to this side is much much more than what the general public might think. His sheer presence is invaluable for the team and the players.

Although quite a few good youngsters have come up, the only thing I fear is people labeling them as the new stars or future greats. We have to learn to have patience and not get too excited. Yes, these players might indeed go on to become future greats but they should be given enough time. We all know what happened to the likes of Ashish Nehra, Balaji and others. Agarkar was never settled in the team and Munaf Patel only has his past performances to help him. Many have come and gone. Only if they maintain their fitness, skill, attitude, they might go on.
The finds have been undoubtedly Ishant Sharma and Praveen Kumar, even Rohit Sharma has impressed and Gambhir seems to have found his place in this team and no need to say that a lot depends on the vice captain Yuvraj Singh.
So although things are looking good for this Indian team, the dream of winning a World Cup is still far away. It is not about winning a tournament or a series but to consistently win over a long period, in all conditions against all teams and India might well be on this way but this is just the beginning and who knows India might become the third team to dominate world cricket after West Indies and Australia! Or is it just dream that will remain a dream and did it just flatter to deceive…Only time will tell but this team does have it in itself to be that team.
Interesting Fact - During his school days, Sachin attended the MRF pace foundation with the intention of becoming a fast bowler. But, the chief coach of the MRF pace foundation Dennis Lillee advised him against it. Lillee asked Sachin to focus on his batting. And that indeed turned out to be good advise!
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