The wait is over. The Indians kicked off their most anticipated series of the year in Melbourne today with a three day match against Victoria.
It has been a roller coaster ride for India this year. When they started the year, they were on the verge of winning a test (and series) against South Africa, but threw it away in the end. It was a disappointing start, but with the World cup starting in a couple of months, good wins at home against West Indies and Sri Lanka boosted their confidence. But the World cup turned out to be a nightmare for India when they got knocked out of the opening round. The causality list after the WC debacle included stars like Sehwag and Harbhajan Singh and coach Greg Chappell.
The team badly hurting from the World cup loss then toured Bangladesh to win the ODI and test series before they went to Ireland to play a series against South Africa and Ireland. India won the series against South Africa 2-1 and were confident of doing well against England in the following series. After a shaky start to the England series, they eventually ended up dominating and winning it. They followed that with a ODI series loss (England 4- India 3).
Then it was T20 World cup time. When they went into the Twenty20 World cup, the expectations were not that high. Dhoni was named captain in a team that did not consist of seasoned campaigners like Dravid, Tendulkar, Ganguly and Zaheer Khan. Yet, Team India took everyone by surprise by winning the World cup beating Pakistan in an exciting final.
They were still on a high when they played Australia in a ODI series at home. Australia brought the team back to reality by winning the series and although the results read Australia 4 and India 2, it did not truly reflect the gap between the two teams.
Without much gap or rest, the Pakistan series then followed. They won both the one day and test series on dead pitches to finish the year with 3 wins and 1 loss in 9 tests. Of the tests that ended in a draw, India had the upper hand in most games (the sole exception being the game played at Lord’s)
If you put things into perspective, India have done reasonably well in tests this year and extremely well in the Twenty 20 games. Their ODI record has not been that good (20 wins/15 losses out of 37 games and their early knock out from the World cup), although they are ranked 4th in both forms of the games.
Australia is currently the toughest tour in any cricket team’s calendar and it would be interesting to see how they come out of it. The last test match of the year starts on Boxing day (26th Dec), and all eyes will be on the Indian team to see how they go. This match could set the tone for the rest of the series…and on behalf of the i3j3 contributors, would like to send best wishes to the team to perform well…
Chak De, India! Show us what you’ve got!