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Sunday, March 09, 2008

Is the Tri-Series win in Australia the greatest win for India in ODIs?

The Indians completed the victory over Australia in the second finals, winning it convincingly 2-0. The third final was not required and the Indian team returned back home for some well-deserved rest. The team was given a fabulous welcome and checks were given to all the team members. But, there are some who deserve the credit equally:
  • the selectors who chose the youngsters. They respected the domestic performances and picked players like Praveen Kumar, Suresh Raina and Manoj Tiwary, thereby encouraging the younger generation to take the Ranjis and Duleep Trophys more seriously.
  • the BCCI (not kidding) for having thought of a performance-based revenue system which will reward the ones who perform and also pull them up when they dont.
  • the BCCI (once again) for bringing in changes to the domestic game that has introduced true wickets. This has ensured that batsmen dont score heavily on placid wickets against bowling that dont sting.
  • the support staff for planning the entire series thoroughly. Each batsman's dismissal was planned and the execution was monitored to the last detail.
  • the captain, last but not the least, for sticking his neck out by picking a young team. He asked for fresher blood that could bring in more agility on the field, sacrificing the established seniors. He played knocks that are not characteristic with his original style, ensuring that the team crosses the winning line.
The question on everyone's mind then is whether this was the best ever win in ODI's? Probably not. Though everyone will mention the 1983 World Cup, I would select the 1985 World Championship in Australia. The 1983 win was initially an outside chance that India had to win the Cup. Nobody thought that they could do any damage in the tournament - hence, the expectations were almost nil. Things changed after the 1983 World Cup and in the 1985 tournament they were one of the favorites. And what a performance they produced!!! The bowlers took all the wickets in all matches (except the final, where they missed by one). They were well supported on the field and in the batting department. The expectations on any side is always a heavy force to reckon with. That they could surpass all the obstacles on the field means that this was the best ever win.

This win would rank third, right behind the two World championships. Of course, the Twenty20 win was also good - though one could argue that this was the shortest version of the game, which probably no team had taken seriously, even the Indians.

The South African team is next on the cards. India must ensure that the win in Australia doesnt stay on in their minds. The ODI series win and the great performances in the test series are now history. The players must forget it quickly without losing the lessons learnt during the same. With the next 2-3 weeks, they should be given sufficient rest so that they can come back with recharged batteries. Only if they defeat the Proteans convincingly, would there be an acceptance in the cricketing circles that the Indian team is capable of being one of the best in the world.
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