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India Poised To Rule The World

By Orin Davidson
March 7th, 2008
With money to burn and millions of players to chose from India finally seems to be fulfilling their potential as a world cricket power.

The national team’s comprehensive defeat of Australia in the just concluded CB ODI finals among other accomplishments, is reward for the tremendous investment the Board for Cricket Control of India (BCCI) has made in training and facilities.

They are now producing young players heavily grounded and with a new sense of confidence, honed by years of expectation.

This was not a narrow triumph, but a 2-0 blanking of a team that is being considered the best of all time. Australia was not beaten on the dust bowls of the subcontinent where only spinners prevail, but in the world champions’ own backyard.

They were not even capable of snatching a consolation ODI victory, but were sent packing with as full a strength team as they could muster now.

Whenever Australia play, the discussions have in recent times centered around the margin of victory prior to any rubber, other than a prediction of a win either way.

But for them to be humbled on the speed tracks at Melbourne and Brisbane says a lot for the quality of the current India team that has overcome the toughest environment to compete, where intimidation from players and crowds on and off the field, makes a triumph Down Under, two times more valuable than any other around the world.

And one cannot not run away with the view that the CB series triumph was merely a limited overs victory which does not prove anything much about ability of teams like Test competition does.

India’s latest triumph was the latest in a streak of a productive year of success that includes both forms of the game.

The score might have read 2-1 in Australia’s favor, in the preceding Test series but in all fairness it should not count as a victory for the world champions.

The world would’ve aired their views on the horrendous umpiring that went against India most of the series and the repercussions - the Steve Bucknor sacking making it the most talked about development in the cricket world at the time, but the most significant errors robbed India of a vital chance to draw the series.

The wrong dismissals of Rahul Dravid and Sourav Ganguly on that last day of the Sydney second Test handed Australia a hollow victory in the circumstances.

The fact India rebounded to put away Australia at Perth makes it even more probable they would’ve had an even better ending in the four match-man rubber, given the confidence and momentum factor.

Australia scrapped home 2-1 but the result should’ve been more like 1-1 which gives a clearer indication that India is a much better Test team than they were five years ago.
Drawing a Test series against Australia who destroys every other team that sets foot on the continent upholds the argument.

The Australian performance comes on top of India defeating England in England in Tests last summer, beating Pakistan at home and overcoming West Indies in the Caribbean for the first time in 35 years, the previous year.

You don’t not need any other proof that India are on top of their game in both forms of the game. Their triumph in the Twenty20 World Cup, and Under-19 World Cup, underlines this reality.

This current squad is a departure from the Indian teams of the past that was known to be suckers to fast bowling and wimps away from home. Their bowling strength now revolves around the fast men. Instead of spinners have been around, but are now overshadowed for wickets.

It is testament to the investment the BCCI has placed in the high number of academies being established across the vast country, none more valuable than the MRF fast bowling school once headed by the great Australian paceman Dennis Lillee.

These days you have youngsters like RP Singh, Ishant Sharma and Praveen Kumar coming to the fore and hitting the ground running with success stories. And with improvement of veterans Zaheer Khan and Irfan Patel, India is strong in both departments of their game.

The youngsters are well trained in excelling in the basic skills of ball movement, which can be more effective than flat out pace which modern pacemen around the world yearn for. Machismo is not always the key to success. The young Indians are prime examples

Coupled with the welcome return to batting form of Sachin Tendulkar whose exploits throughout the Australia tour hints at the second coming of the Mumbai Maestro, India, traditionally rich in batting, are holding their own with runs too.

Sensible decisions to recall Ganguly and VVX Laxman - proven run scorers are taking India’s game to another level.

It is no coincidence that since the resignation of coach Greg Chappell after India’s meltdown in the 2007 World Cup, success team stories are being written.
Therefore it is shocking to see the BCCI is still bent on hiring another foreign coach.

The technical team of captain, bowling coach, fielding coach and bowling coach seems just good enough.

Why they need another foreigner to disrupt the team’s chemistry is befuddling.

Image and politics still seem to play unwanted roles in India’s cricket administration. No wonder it took the country so long to realize its full potential.
Orin Davidson Column Homepage

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