Does age matter?
The Australian team has a lot of experience. But that also means old and the majority of their players are on the wrong side of 30. In comparison, only Tendulkar ages over 30 for India. Although the Aussies threw themselves in the field, took some brilliant catches and ran between the wickets well, I do wonder if age did play a part in Australia’s loss in the CB series.
I’ll let you make your own judgement –
Bowling and batting reserves
Australia played their full strength team in the CB series – their best batsmen and bowlers played and there was no one on the injury list. But compare this to the Indian team. There was no Zaheer Khan and no RP Singh – two stand out performers for India in the tests, who didn’t play the CB series owing to injury. And their new find – Ishant Sharma also didn’t play in the second final. And two of their top batsmen – Dravid and Ganguly were left out in favour of younger players. In spite of all this, India came out on top – it just goes to show that there is plenty of batting and bowling reserves for India.
Sachin still the master
Expectations from Tendulkar are always high and he didn’t quite live up to those expectations in the early part of the tournament and when he had scores of 5, 0 and 2 some doubts were raised on his batting form. Commentators were even suggesting leaving him out for Sehwag. But when it mattered the most, the little master struck form. His final 3 scores of the tournament read – 63, 117* and 91 – scores that were responsible for India’s eventual win in the tournament.
Leading from the front
Ponting seemed distracted through out the series and if you leave out his score of124 in a match that really didn’t matter for Australia, he averages just 7.4 runs. Australia in the past used to operate under the philosophy that if you get the captain, you get the team. In a reversal of roles, the Aussies found themselves on the receiving end this time, with their captain woefully out of sorts and team suffering as a result.
In contrast, Dhoni averaged close to 70 with the bat and often pulled the team out of trouble. His glove work was good behind the stumps and all the moves he made as a captain (like bringing in Kumar or Chawla) seemed to work. He lead the team from the front and Dhoni should take a lot of credit for the ODI series win.
Sydney Test loss, the turning point
The Melbourne test was almost a practice game for India. Fresh of the plane and with the only tour game rained out, the Indians didn’t have a chance for a real hit out prior to the Melbourne test and it is no wonder they lost the game. They made some improvements in Sydney test, but still lost. You can argue endlessly about bad umpiring decisions, sportsmanship and batting collapses, but the truth of the matter is that the distractions off the field somehow seemed to galvanize the team and their performance since then has been on the raise.
Australia on the other hand let the distractions affect their game and somehow found Harbhajan Singh repeatedly getting on their nerves. It seems they are themselves not immune to their own mental disintegration mantra.
Best team in the World?
The Indian team is certainly improving. They did beat the No.1 team in their own country. But claiming that India is the new leader of World cricket is a bit too rich. There is still plenty of improvements to be made and let us not forget that they didn’t even get past the preliminary round of the World cup last year.
The Aussies played good cricket over a prolonged period of time to claim the title of the best team in the World. India also need to win consistently over a considerable duration of time to claim that title. Until such time, I will only consider it as a team on the rise.
One swallow does not make a summer…