It is rare indeed for India to surge ahead in a
one-day series in the manner in which they have
against Sri Lanka.
Remember, prior to this series the Lankans were ranked
second only to Australia while India were way down in
the cellar. The result must thus rank as a major
Of course Sri Lanka like India are much stronger at
home than abroad. Then again, it is quite startling to
realize that India have not won an ODI series at home
since narrowly beating Zimbabwe 3-2 in early 2002.
In fact, in this period India’s record abroad in ODIs
has been better, reaching the finals of the 2002
Champions Trophy and 2003 World Cup and winning the
tri-nation NatWest series in England also in 2002.
It was only three months back in Lanka that India were
being outclassed in the one-day game. Now things
appear to have come full circle.
Of course the very nature of the one-day game is such
that a match can turn on a single dropped catch or
missed run-out or even on the toss. The Lankans can
still come back to win a couple of games. But for now
at least, nothing can seem to go wrong for the Indian
How much of the credit for that must go to coach Greg
Chappell and how much to captain Rahul Dravid is hard
to say. But one thing is for sure, —the chemistry between
the two— and the rest of the team— is certainly an
improvement on that between Chappell and Sourav
Harsh as it may be to accept for his die-hard
supporters, Chappell’'s words in his leaked e-mail
about Ganguly’'s negative influence on his team-mates
appears to be true.
While his fans are putting it all down to a
“conspiracy” to keep their favourite player out of the
side, there has to be something positive in finding
all those in control of the Indian team— - the selectors,
coach and captain, —working in harmony. This looked
highly unlikely a couple of months ago after Indian
cricket’'s dirty linen was being washed in public.
Dravid'’s task was in particular an unenviable one
considering he was given the captaincy for two ODI
series and would have Ganguly’'s shadow hanging over
In the event, not only his captaincy, which has shown
a refreshing tendency to innovate, but his batting too
has done Dravid proud. Remember, his average drops
drastically when he is in charge of the side.
The return of Sachin Tedulkar, coupled with the exit
(presumably, only temporary) of Ganguly has also done
wonders for the side. I have always maintained the
master batsman'’s mere presence in the playing XI gives
India an edge and now after six months away, Tendulkar
Chappell’'s stated vision from the start has been to
mould a side for the 2007 World Cup. He had been
pleading for patience after the setbacks earlier this
year soon after he took over the coach'’s hot-seat. Now
that patience looks like it is paying off.
It may not always be like this. But then in the first
four matches, every move attempted by the Indian
think-tank has paid rich dividends, starting with
Irfan Pathan'’s promotion in the first match.
As for Mahender Singh Dhoni'’s blazing batting, surely
nothing this season will come close to matching it.
Then again, what a treat it will be if I am proved
wrong on that count!