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When it rains, it pours!
by Gulu Ezekiel
Nov 05, 2005
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 upset.

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 team.

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 Ganguly.

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 him.

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 appears revitalized.

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!

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