|India switches gears ahead of World Cup|
|by Gulu Ezekiel|
|Apr 08, 2006|
India is the in-form team in ODIs with the start of
the World Cup now less than 12 months away. The
relative ease with which they have defeated England in
the current series must give them tremendous
confidence with the first target being the Champions
Trophy in India in October.
Having made a sweep of the first four matches, a 7-0
verdict is now certainly on the cards. That would be a
unique achievement, even against a side so obviously
demoralized as England.
Public memory is short. In Pakistan earlier this year,
one abysmal batting performance in the third and final
Test saw the series being lost 1-0, only for India to
come storming back to take the ODI series 4-1.
We are seeing an uncannily similar situation unfolding
right now. The collapse on the final day of the third
Test at Mumbai last month now appears a distant
memory. The Test series was drawn 1-1 when the experts
had predicted a clean sweep against a severely
depleted England side.
Indian fans, given the choice would certainly prefer
the team to win one-day matches rather than Tests. A
lot can happen before the World Cup. But if Rahul
Dravid can go one better than his predecessor Sourav
Ganguly and give India its first title since 1983,
then all the defeats in Test matches will no doubt be
Comparisons are being drawn between the Ganguly/coach
John Wright regime and the current one of Dravid and
coach Greg Chappell. It is true that India won a Test
(and ODI) series in Pakistan for the first time back
in 2004 and drew 1-1 in both England and Australia.
But it also received defeats in the West Indies and
New Zealand and all the good work of the first four
years was erased by a miserable final season.
Chappells propensity to experiment has its fair share
of critics. It has done wonders in the one-day game
but has not clicked in Test matches where such
measures tend to unravel over a period of four to five
Certainly the strides made by Yuvraj Singh and Suresh
Raina have been the most positive aspect of the
current one-day series. Harbhajan Singh re-discovering
his bowling touch is also a major plus-point as is the
fielding which is the one aspect which has shown the
most improvement since Gangulys departure. It is the
captain who is supposed to set an example and thus
lift the rest of the side in the field. This is where
Ganguly was pretty woeful. The rapid improvement in
fielding is due in no small measure to both the
current captain and coach.
Nothing less than 7-0 will do this time around and it
is up to the coach to ensure the motivation levels of
the players do not flag. Chappells ruthlessness has
not gone down well with his critics. But you can be
sure that the mean streak he showed as a player and
captain will come to the fore now when it is time to
turn the screws on England.