By Bharath Kumar
When Australian cricket team became the world’s No. 1 Test team few years ago, nobody raised questions, but when India took over as the No.1 Test team in the world, quite a few are raising questions about their occupying the prime slot. A section of the cricketing fraternity believes India is lucky to be in the coveted position as it has won most of the matches in India and not in testing overseas conditions.
And why is the situation like this? Teams around the world find it hard to digest that a team from sub continent has reached the numero uno position in the highest form of cricket. Test cricket was supposed to be played by top nations like Australia, England who invented the game in the first place and the South Africans, then the mighty West Indians. But all these nations have had their ups and downs, and when the chips are down they are giving all the reasons, and when they are winning all is well. But when a cricketing nation which entered late into Test cricket is leading the rankings, it’s irking all the other Test playing nations who thought they were the masters of the game till date. But Indian teams have showed in the recent past under coach Gary Kirsten and under the leadership of Anil Kumble and now Mahendra Singh Dhoni by winning overseas Test matches – a distant dream a decade ago.
Team India is now rewriting its own script, on its own terms, withering away opposition. The first to face the brunt was none other than Ricky Ponting’s Australian team when Kumble led India to a famous drawn Test series Down Under. On-field incidents – like the Monkey Gate Scandal – turned ugly as the Aussies couldn’t handle getting dominated. When Indian team gave back Aussies their own medicine, it was total chaos. The Aussies lost the plot altogether and Team India came out with flying colors in that Test series showing other Test teams in the world the way do it.
For Indian team then, it was England, Sri Lanka, South Africa. India started to look like a different team altogether. And under Dhoni the team looks more grounded, also it has to be coach Kirsten’s influence on the team which has helped Indians overcome skeletons in their closet and perform like this on a consistent basis.
The final frontier face-off against the No.2 ranked Test team in the showed everybody that India are not just No.1 Test team by fluke.  Dhoni and his men have shown a steely resolve to stay No. 1 in the rankings and in fact played like the No. 1 team in the Durban Test.
The real test of character is coming back from an innings defeat which badly dented India’s confidence with an innings defeat. India came back strong and displayed that to the cynics who have been questioning their No. 1 status and its credibility for long. The point is that India aren’t self-appointed No. 1 but are there due to a rating system that has been approved by all cricketing boards.
Graeme Smith blabbered before the Test series began that India did not deserve to be the No.1 Test team in the world. But soon after 2nd Test match he said it’s for no reason India are the No.1 Test team in the world and the South Africans learnt it first hand. What has made the Indian team transform in this manner? What is it that Mohammad Azharuddin or Sourav Ganguly, who had similar set ups with them, couldn’t crack but this Indian team has time and again? Is it the never-say-die attitude of the players or is it players who are not taking their place for granted in Team India anymore?
The forthcoming World Cup, India’s tour of England followed by India’s tour of Australia should provide the answers. With India playing most of their Test matches away from home, it will test India’s character and No 1 rankings. With South Africa and England close on the heels of India for the No.1 position, 2011 will be all the more interesting. In fact, Test matches are once again in the limelight after a long time, where the real character of players and teams surface.
Anybody questioning Team India’s credibility for their No.1 rankings should watch out. The team is on a roll.
Team India and Gary Kristen © Getty Images
Team India and Gary Kristen © Getty Images

By Bharath Kumar

 

When Australian cricket team became the world’s No. 1 Test team few years ago, nobody raised questions, but when India took over as the No.1 Test team in the world, quite a few are raising questions about their occupying the prime slot. A section of the cricketing fraternity believes India is lucky to be in the coveted position as it has won most of the matches in India and not in testing overseas conditions.

 

And why is the situation like this? Teams around the world find it hard to digest that a team from sub continent has reached the numero uno position in the highest form of cricket. Test cricket was supposed to be played by top nations like Australia, England who invented the game in the first place and the South Africans, then the mighty West Indians. But all these nations have had their ups and downs, and when the chips are down they are giving all the reasons, and when they are winning all is well. But when a cricketing nation which entered late into Test cricket is leading the rankings, it’s irking all the other Test playing nations who thought they were the masters of the game till date. But Indian teams have showed in the recent past under coach Gary Kirsten and under the leadership of Anil Kumble and now Mahendra Singh Dhoni by winning overseas Test matches – a distant dream a decade ago.

 

Team India is now rewriting its own script, on its own terms, withering away opposition. The first to face the brunt was none other than Ricky Ponting’s Australian team when Kumble led India to a famous drawn Test series Down Under. On-field incidents – like the Monkey Gate Scandal – turned ugly as the Aussies couldn’t handle getting dominated. When Indian team gave back Aussies their own medicine, it was total chaos. The Aussies lost the plot altogether and Team India came out with flying colors in that Test series showing other Test teams in the world the way do it.

 

For Indian team then, it was England, Sri Lanka, South Africa. India started to look like a different team altogether. And under Dhoni the team looks more grounded, also it has to be coach Kirsten’s influence on the team which has helped Indians overcome skeletons in their closet and perform like this on a consistent basis.

 

The final frontier face-off against the No.2 ranked Test team in the showed everybody that India are not just No.1 Test team by fluke.  Dhoni and his men have shown a steely resolve to stay No. 1 in the rankings and in fact played like the No. 1 team in the Durban Test.

 

The real test of character is coming back from an innings defeat which badly dented India’s confidence with an innings defeat. India came back strong and displayed that to the cynics who have been questioning their No. 1 status and its credibility for long. The point is that India aren’t self-appointed No. 1 but are there due to a rating system that has been approved by all cricketing boards.

 

Graeme Smith blabbered before the Test series began that India did not deserve to be the No.1 Test team in the world. But soon after 2nd Test match he said it’s for no reason India are the No.1 Test team in the world and the South Africans learnt it first hand. What has made the Indian team transform in this manner? What is it that Mohammad Azharuddin or Sourav Ganguly, who had similar set ups with them, couldn’t crack but this Indian team has time and again? Is it the never-say-die attitude of the players or is it players who are not taking their place for granted in Team India anymore?

 

The forthcoming World Cup, India’s tour of England followed by India’s tour of Australia should provide the answers. With India playing most of their Test matches away from home, it will test India’s character and No 1 rankings. With South Africa and England close on the heels of India for the No.1 position, 2011 will be all the more interesting. In fact, Test matches are once again in the limelight after a long time, where the real character of players and teams surface.

 

Anybody questioning Team India’s credibility for their No.1 rankings should watch out. The team is on a roll.

 

(Bharath Kumar is a Masters in Microbiology, but loves writing and is crazy about cricket. He is a huge RCB fan)