Time to take the big stride
Indian Cricket which has started its fight in 2001 under Sourav Ganguly’s captaincy to achieve the tag of the top team in the world has reached the climax. This year will decide whether India has the right attitude and players to rule the cricket for the next few years to come. This is the most flexible team India had in their whole cricketing history. Each and every player in this Indian team are match winners and if they perform to their potential means there is no reason why they can’t be at the helm of the Cricketing world. India has strong team in all three forms of the game and South Africa will testify itself and India’s resilience in becoming the best team. So let me analyze strengths which will take them to the top and the weaknesses which may make Indians to wait for some more years.
Indians must have been lucky to have M.S.Dhoni as their captain who has shown all the required qualities of a good skipper in the past one year. Indian selectors have struck gold by appointing him as the captain after the resignation of Rahul Dravid. He keeps the cool head, never allows the pressure to affect his players, and backs his players and instincts. He also added many younger players to his armory, thus making this team as a wonderful and energetic fielding unit.
Another plus point is, he doesn’t allows the captaincy to affect his batting and keeping. His average suggests how good he is in assuming responsibility. In one-dayers and T20 he is capable of playing in any position and in test as a lower middle order batsman he can change the course of the match in one or two sessions.
For all 3 forms of the game, India has got the openers who are best in the business, at present. Sehwag was the most feared and explosive opening batsman. Already he has shown what he is capable of. He can play a match winning innings or inspire somebody to play a match winning innings. And along with him is Gambhir who never forgets his ability to hit some big shots while scoring those singles and doubles. He is the very consistent batsman for India during last year.
Sachin Tendulkar comes into the picture in the one-dayers. No need to say about him as he still has the fire within him to do well for the country. So it’s a tie between him and Gambhir on who opens the innings along with Sehwag. There is no need to worry as both of them were capable playing at no.3.
In the reserves there is M Vijay, Rahane who are just scoring big hundreds, a phenomenon for an opening batsman.
In tests, Indian middle order is looking slightly brittle with shaky Rahul Dravid at no.3. He always expected to anchor the innings together, in which he has failed continuously for past 1 year. Then with Sachin Tendulkar and VVS Laxman at no.4 and 5 India has some most experienced batsmen to handle any kind of attack in any conditions. They are rock solid when it comes to defense and they are not alien to hit the balls at will when it comes to taking the attack to the opposition.
Aging is a factor which may go against this middle-order as anyone who is going to step in has to fill the big shoes which is not an easiest task.
As far as one-dayers and T20 are concerned all the players except Sehwag and Gambhir were playing in all positions according to the need and situation of the team. Yusuf Pathan, Yuraj Singh, MS Dhoni, Suresh Raina were doing well. With all-rounder Ravindra Jadeja was waiting in the reserves this middle order is great for both the forms of the game.
In reserves there is S Badrinath, Rohit Sharma, Suresh Raina and Chatteswar Pujara are waiting and love to grab the opportunity by scoring some big runs.
India has got one of most explosive lower middle order in tests. With Yuvraj Singh and MS Dhoni what else one can expect. Even though Yuvraj Singh has to prove himself at test level, he has the ability to make it there. If he clicks there then that will be a headache for all the teams in the world. He will hit any bowler out of the park and he is capable taking the match away from opposition in a matter of time.
This is the area India has improved immensely and has some world class bowlers in its kitty. Zaheer Khan and Ishant Sharma have made a potent combination and they are ruthless against the batsmen. Zaheer was the best swing bowler in the world now and after making his return some 2 years back, he has proved himself with consistent performances. He is the leader of the Indian bowling attack and at times he assumes the captaincy and sets the fielding. In my 15 years of cricket viewing experience, he is the first Indian fast bowler to use his head, trying different lengths and fielding combinations.
Ishant Sharma was not far behind, who is using his height to good effect by hitting the deck, moving the ball and most importantly extracting bounce even from dead pitches. These two has mastered the reverse swing which will make the teams who travel to India cry.
With Munaf Patel a bowler of precision, Sreesanth, RP Singh in the ranks India has quality. L Balaji and Dhawal Kulkarni were taking heap of wickets in the domestic tournament which is good.
If pace department was raised like before, I have never seen a depleted spin attack of India like this. Harbahajan Singh is the only spin bowler equaling the test ranks; even he has lost some of his magic. So this is the area which will make the India losing its edge. Even though India has Amit Mishra, Piyush Chawla as leg spinners, they are not threatening enough. Pragyan Ojha, a left arm slow bowler seems to be a good prospect and he too will find it difficult to qualify for the test level.
But the beauty is, even without world class spinners in their ranks, India will be able to do well in one-dayers and T20. Only in tests, that too in India and Srilanka they will suffer a lot.
India is a much improved fielding side now-a-days and I am not seeing it go worse in future. Each and player were throwing themselves to get the ball which is a good sign and they are also fit enough to do so. So this goes as strength of the team.
Overall, today India has taken Srilanka in the ODI and won the match comfortably and starting their campaign to become the no.1 team. The challenge will get tougher when they travel to New Zealand where they didn’t perform well until now. So there is lot at stake for the Indian cricket and MS Dhoni will feel pressure if some players go off form or hit by an injury. Testing times are ahead, with India has to defend their T20 title this year. So according to me, India has lots of things going by their way to claim the top spot and wishing them all the best.