Arjun Miglani writes:
Tests 3rd, ODI 3rd, T20 7th
Asia Cup – 3rd
Commonwealth Bank Series – 3rd
Australia (A) – Tests Lost 4-0 (4), T20s Drew 1-1 (2)
The good news for India is that they are still third in the Test rankings. The bad news is that they have now lost their last eight away Tests, and all of them by large margins.
England was an aberration, they said. We had injuries, they said. The England tour was an unmitigated disaster, but surely things couldn’t be as bad in Australia? This, after all, was a side that had recently been bowled out for 47.
It’s easy to forget that approaching the end of day two of the first Test in Melbourne, India were 200ish for 2, only a hundred or so runs behind Australia’s total, with Tendulkar closing in on THAT hundred. Then Tendulkar got bowled, and from then on, India’s tour progressed to new levels of ineptitude. There were many, many crimes against cricket committed by the tourists on this tour, but perhaps the greatest was letting David Warner score a hundred in a session, aided greatly by the selection of the woefully pedestrian Vinay Kumar at the WACA.
While India failed to make the finals of the Commonwealth Bank series, it wasn’t as much of an abject failure. At least they won some games. Most importantly, Virat Kohli carried on his form from the latter end of the Tests, culminating in one of the greatest ODI innings of all time, a near-flawless 133 off 86 balls against Sri Lanka.
As if India hadn’t been on the road long enough, they then travelled to Bangladesh for the Asia Cup. After dispatching Sri Lanka with ease (as they had done quite consistently in Australia, to be fair), they proceeded to play one of the most bizarre games of cricket against Bangladesh. India LOST that game, but you wouldn’t know it among the hysteria surrounding Sachin Tendulkar FINALLY getting his hundredth hundred. It is, without a doubt, an utterly brilliant achievement, but the role his slowing down as he approached it played in causing India to lose the match cannot be ignored. Consequently, they exited the tournament, despite beating arch-rivals Pakistan thanks to yet another Kohli spectacular, this time scoring 183 off 148 balls. The boy’s got talent.
Looking forward, India don’t have much to worry about in limited overs cricket, despite those two disappointments. There is enough youth and talent in the squad to ensure consistency of performance, and you’d still fancy them to beat everyone else at home.
Tests, however, are a different story. The importance of the next 12 months for Indian cricket cannot be overstated. The main issue, of course, is trying to find a replacement for Rahul Dravid. There’s no reason for VVS Laxman to be continuing in the team either, but it doesn’t look like he intends to pack it in anytime soon. Tendulkar, meanwhile, is still playing well enough to warrant his place in the side, and may play with more freedom now that he’s got his milestone. There are plenty of young, talented players on the horizon for India, but as yet, only Virat Kohli (and, to a lesser extent, Umesh Yadav), have proven that they can hack it at the top level. M.S. Dhoni’s captaincy is a pale imitation of its former self, but he still remains the best man for the job, by process of elimination.
By this time next year, India will have hosted England and Australia (and New Zealand) in home test series. After all the talk of exacting revenge at home that followed those two horrific tours, the pressure is on to make sure they do just that.
Finally, it’s pleasing to note that Yuvraj Singh appears to be making a full recovery from his bout with cancer. It’s unlikely that we’ll see him back chucking pies and smashing teen heart-throbs for six sixes in the near future, but a return at some point looks on the cards, which is good news for all concerned.