Indian fans would normally be celebrating the first
series victory outside Asia for nearly 20 years.
Sadly though, there are a number of mitigating factors
which have effectively taken the gloss off Indias 2-0
thumping of Zimbabwe.
The latest victory now means that the only two countries where India are yet to record a series rubber are South Africa and
Australia. From a purely cricketing point of view this must rank as a pretty hollow win considering Zimbabwe would
struggle to hold their own against even the weakest of
teams in the Ranji Trophy.
Further, the Indian performance was far from top
class, particularly in the second Test at Harare,
where we had never won a Test match before this one.
The way the Indian batting crawled on the second day
and then the manner in which the Zimbabwe tail-enders
put our bowling to the sword on the third hardly
augurs well for the sterner tests ahead this season.
Irfan Pathan had an outstanding series but he would be
the first one to admit the lack of challenge
considering the pathetic way the Zimbabwe top order
The tri-series which preceded the Test matches was
also a flop for the Indians as they once again failed
in the final.
Unfortunately the biggest headlines of the tour were
thanks to the public spat
between Sourav Ganguly and coach Greg Chappell.
Ganguly's leaking out of a confidential conversation has
broken the most sacred of covenants in a cricket
teamwhat happens in the dressing room stays in the
That he should wait till he scored one of the
dreariest international centuries in recent years
before spilling the beans to the media has shown him
up in very poor light.
Chappell diffused the crisis by putting out a
conciliatory statement on the eve of the second Test.
But the Australian legend is nobody's fool. He knows
he only has to bide his time before there is a change
at the top and the sooner that happens the better it
While the timing of Chappell's e-mail condemning the
captain can be questioned, its contents no doubt have
the ring of truth. Save for the ever-loyal fans in his hometown, it appears the whole of India has now tired of Gangulys
antics and ego trips.
A poll in the latest issue of a weekly Indian magazine
shows that over 80% of those questioned want Ganguly
to be dropped.
Few Indian sportspersons understand the value of going
out gracefully and tend to hang on till even their own
teammates tire of them. This was certainly the case with Kapil Dev though Sunil Gavaskar showed much more sense in this regard,
as did Vijay Merchant, the Indian batting legend of
the 40s and 50s.
Merchants famous line: "when it comes time to retire,
let the public ask why and why not" is true even
That is not to say that Ganguly's career at the
international level is over. At 32 he may well have a
couple more years left in him and can certainly make a
comeback. But right now on form both as batsman and
captain the time has come for him to be dropped.
Certainly if the shenanigans of BCCI politics
eventually see the Kolkata lobby voted out, Ganguly's
days too will be numbered.
The time has now come for Rahul Dravid to take over
the reins and mould the team for the 2007 World Cup,
working with Chappell rather than against him.