|A successful yet forgettable year for India|
|by Gulu Ezekiel|
|Jan 01, 2006|
With just eight Test matches and 27 ODIs, this was a
somewhat light international year for the team.
And while on the face of it, 15 wins in ODIs, five Test
victories and just one defeat may appear to be a
positive outcome, the quality of opposition in the
second half of the year meant not much could be read
into the report card.
Yes, India won a Test series abroad for the first time
since 1986 outside Asia. But the abysmal state of
Zimbabwe cricket meant the achievement was totally
In India too, without the services of stalwart opener
Sanath Jayasuriya, Sri Lanka were a shadow of their
usual selves and rolled over easily in two of the
three Test matches. The score-line in the ODI series
was crushing 6-1 for India.
Still, winning at home came as a relief considering
the year began with the disappointing show against
Pakistan. Though the Test series was drawn 1-1, it
felt more like a defeat and losing the ODI series 2-4
came as a bitter blow. It also signaled the beginning
of the end of Ganguly's reign.
After acting as a stand-in captain every time Ganguly
suffered an injury or faced an ICC ban, it was finally
time for Rahul Dravid to be formally handed the reins
With new coach Greg Chappell by his side, ironically
appointed by Ganguly and his godfather Jagmohan
Dalmiya, the new pairing did particularly well to halt
South Africa's brilliant run in ODIs.
There was more change at the top with Dalmiya's luck
and manipulative methods finally hitting a dead-end at
the hands of Sharad Pawar. But there is still no
writing off the Kolkata strongman.
On the individual front, the highlight of the year was
the return from injury of Sachin Tendulkar and his
world record 35th Test century at the Kotla.
Not far behind was leg spinner Anil Kumble reaching
the landmark of 100 Test matches at Ahmedabad, only
the second spinner to achieve the feat. He remains
India's greatest match winning spin bowler.
The low point undoubtedly was the melodrama
The leak of the coach's confidential e-mail
castigating Ganguly, while Dalmiya was still virtually
in charge of the BCCI really let the cat out of the
bag and was the beginning of the depressing soap opera
that dragged on through the year.
It was political arm-twisting at its worst which saw
the ex-captain force his way back into the squad for
Pakistan. And the ugly parochialism in his hometown
over his earlier exclusions, culminating in shocking
crowd scenes during the ODI against South Africa at
the Eden Gardens, brought shame on a city that has
long prided itself on its sporting passion.