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Dhoni Stands Vindicated
by Gulu Ezekiel
Mar 07, 2008
What a remarkable turnaround Indian cricket has witnessed over the last 12 months.

It is exactly a year since it hit rock-bottom, humiliated by Bangladesh in the World Cup and then beaten by Sri Lanka. The 2003 runners-up were eliminated in the first round and the bloodletting had begun.

The steady uphill climb began in Bangladesh and then ascended a few more steps in England where South Africa were beaten in the ODI series.

India under Rahul Dravid claimed the Test rubber for the first time in England in 21 years and then ran the home side pretty close in the ODI series that followed.

The big shock came with Dravid’s resignation following his greatest triumph.

Meanwhile, MS Dhoni led a young and untested side to the inaugural Twenty/20 World Cup in South Africa with little or no hope of making much of an impact.

The nation went gaga as Dhoni brought home the big prize and from then on there has been no looking back.

Victory at home against Pakistan in the Test series under a new captain (Anil Kumble) and in the ODI series under Dhoni and then it was on to Down Under for the biggest test of them all.

The bitterness and acrimony of the Sydney Test could not hide the fact that the world champions were distinctly lucky to come out 2-1 winners.

Now we are looking at the greatest one-year period in Indian cricket since that glorious summer of 1971 when India won away for the first time in the West Indies and England.

Beating Australia in the ODI tri-series is yet another feather in Dhon’s cap. And he has done it his own way.

Add to that Under-19 World Cup triumph in Kuala Lumpur and the picture of Indian cricket could not look rosier.

Dhoni’s greatest asset is the courage of his convictions. He was vilified in some quarters for banking on youth and sweeping away the seniors. He must be feeling thoroughly vindicated now and why not?

Save for the peerless Sachin Tendulkar, it should be now be pretty obvious that there is no place whatsoever for old legs (and old minds) in the frenetic world of 20/20 and ODIs. Along with a feeling of victory and vindication, there must also be palpable relief that the most bitterly contentious tour since the Bodyline series of 1932-33 has finally ended.

Though he was not quite as innocent as he was portrayed in the Indian media, the level of abuse Harbhajan Singh received from the Australian press, spectators and players certainly crossed all limits of decency. He has had the last laugh though and it appears he has not stopped laughing since the end of the finals. Tendulkar’s return to form and his elevation to the world number one ODI rankings is surely one of the high points of the series. Dhoni and the selectors who backed him can afford to bask in glory. The young guns have shown the way and the endeavour must now be to consolidate on the gains of the last 12 months.

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