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India has some home work left to do
by Gulu Ezekiel
Sep 10, 2007
Rahul Dravid was probably right when he said at the start of the ODI series that India’s victory in the Test series would be forgotten if they failed in the one-day version.

Public memory is certainly short when it comes to our cricket fans and who among them would recall that India beat South Africa in back-to-back games right at the start of this arduous tour? Still, if you are only as good as your last game, then Indian cricket if not quite back to square one, certainly has a lot of home-work left to do before it can take on Pakistan and Australia with confidence later this season.

Dravid’s men did a commendable job in clawing their way back to 3-3 after falling 1-3 behind. But let no one be fooled—England were clearly the superior side. A victory for India in the final game at Lord’s would only have served to paper over the cracks. One should keep in mind that both in the Tests and ODIs, England were essentially fielding a second-string bowling attack.

Missing were their 2005 Ashes stalwarts Simon Jones, Matthew Hoggard, Steve Harmison and Andrew Flintoff. The last named missed the entire Test series and was never fully fit in the one-dayers either.

Coach Greg Chappell’s youth policy failed simply because the young guns failed to fire. That brought the seniors back into the picture.

Now we have a situation where the stalwarts are in cracking form with the bat.

But despite all the runs, the fact remains the Indian team was showing its age in the field and in running between the wickets where Sachin Tendulkar, Rahul Dravid and Sourav Ganguly were lacking. And the series was won and lost in precisely these two vital areas.

Right through the ODI series, England were the leaner, fitter and hungrier side. On that basis alone they were worthy winners, despite the seemingly narrow 4-3 margin.

There were certainly positives for India and these came in splendid displays from Ramesh Powar, Piyush Chawla and Robin Uthappa. They are surely the future.

The balance of the playing XI right through was a dilemma for the captain and an in-form Virender Sehwag and Irfan Pathan were certainly missed.

This is where the Twenty20 World Cup may prove to be a boon for the side. It could well give both of them, as well as Harbhajan Singh, the chance to get back to their peak form and regain their place in the side for the 50-over format and Test matches. The organisers have certainly learned their lessons from the shock early exit of India and Pakistan from the World Cup in the West Indies earlier this year.

The two sides are in the same group for the T20 World Cup and their match on Friday at Durban should be the highlight of the event.

 
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