Tuesday, November 11, 2008

The Victory

India regained the Border-Gavaskar Trophy in the very ground they had lost it four years back. The expected clash of the titans did not take place, with India being the dominant side throughout. The Indian team registered huge victories in Mohali and Nagpur, while Bangalore and Delhi resulted in draws. The victory took India to the No.2 spot in the test rankings still 13 points adrift of the Australians.
The Aussies never looked liked the world champion team that they are. The loss of key players through retirement has severely depleted them. And with Hayden at 37, the team would be further depleted. The so called bench strength does not look that good at the moment. The batting is still pretty solid with Hayden, Hussey, Clarke, Ponting and Katich around but the bowling department never looked like being able to bowl out India. The absence of a spinner hurt them. They did bowl out India twice in the last test because of the most freakish debut of Jason Krejza, who took 12 wickets and got hit for 350 odd runs at an economy rate of around 5 an over! Also Ponting drew plenty of flak for his over rate problems and his strange decisions during the Nagpur tests. Australia look like a team in a bit of bother at the moment. And will have plenty to ponder as they go onto face their die hard rivals New Zealand next.
It was a good series for India. The batsman, with the exception of Dravid all scored runs. The bowlers all got wickets. The series also marked the retirements of two of the greatest Indian cricketers ever. Anil Kumble and Sourav Ganguly ended their careers with a final victory over the Australians.
Kumble will be remembered as a leg-spinner who did not spin the ball but still got over 600 test wickets and 300 ODI wickets. He will also be remebered for his 10 wicket haul against Pakistan at Kotla, the celebrations on reaching his only test hundred at the Oval, bowling with a broken jaw in the West Indies and most importantly the manner in which he carried the team after the Sydeny controvery. And he has probably contributed in more test wins than any other Indian cricketer.
Ganguly's list of memories would be even longer. A century on debut at Lord's, the big sixes of spinners, the Toronto series, waving his shirt in Lord's, his falling out with Greg Chappel and finally the comeback. And he left with a golden duck in his last innings after being in good form throughout the series. India's most successful captain, he was a fighter to the core. From the time he took over in the aftermath of the match-fixing scandal, India also began winning abroad. And he never stopped fighting and making comebacks into the team.
With the retirement of these two legends there are voids in the team which need to be filled. Kumble the captain has been replaced by Dhoni. Amit Mishra has taken over the leg-spin duties. However Ganguly's replacement is not clear.Probably Badrinath or Kaif. Also Dravid's lean patch has just continued. He might be the next in the line, though being my favourite cricketer, I would not want him to go but I cant stand the torture he is going through at the same time. The other places all seem to be in secure hands.
Now its time for the series against England which begins with a 7-match ODI series starting from 14th. Given the fact that England were shot out for than 100 by a second-string Mumbai team and India's recent ODI form, this should be another easy victory for India. My prediction 5-2 or 6-1 victory for Team India.

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