( Time to take off )
Indian cricket now enters a new era, this Indian cricket team is well and truly poised to take off. The reins are in the hands of a bloke called Mahendra Singh Dhoni. I do believe in the old adage that a captain is as good as the team. That is where Dhoni is blessed. He has a fantastic blend of youthful players who are supreme in confidence and under his leadership they will take India to greater heights. See unchartered territory. The biggest test for Dhoni and his men is to prove that this team is different to the old Indian teams that rides high on talent and can pull of incredible wins once in a while but than invariably return to the same mediocre ways again.
That is the biggest task at hand of Dhoni, India must shed the tag of wonderful talented players and wear the tag of the best team in world cricket. There is potential now to have a team that can be compared to the Invincibles of Australia or Clive Lloyd’s men or Steve Waugh’s men.
These three were special teams, they won too much over a long period of time. Steve Waugh can probably lay claim that they raised the bar, they made all other test playing teams look as if they were competing against themselves while Australia were playing at a different level. They decided to score over 300 runs a day, attack with fieldsmen, bowlers and batsmen, they never played negative cricket. They were blessed with two of the best bowlers of the century. They were ruthless, clinical, brave, gamblers and yes very very arrogant. Their gambling and their human instincts were proved in 2001 in India, the one blemish on the Steve Waugh team.
Looking at the middle order, this is where India might face some unsurity and difficulty once Sachin, Dravid and Laxman call it a day. These are champion players and them going out together will be a tough gap to fill. Having said that Sachin & Laxman look like they will continue for atleast another 12 to 24 months, giving enough time to groom the replacements. Ganguly’s spot will go to Yuvraj Singh in the most likely event. Hope the selectors give Yuvraj an extended run this time. Also hope Yuvraj can solve the spin puzzle this time. The next in line would have to be Rohit Sharma when Dravid decides to call it quits. Suresh Raina, Cheteshwar Pujara, Badrinath, Virat Kohli, Kaif, Yusuf Pathan etc will keep them on the toes. Also the openers mentioned earlier could take a spot in the middle order.
Now the only thing we didn’t discuss is the wicket keeper and the captain. No Dhoni is not Gilchrist. Dhoni is Dhoni himself, he is built like and ox runs like a raging bull between wickets and is a very safe wicket keeper. He can intimidate bowlers and tear them apart, but if the need be he can curb his natural instincts and be a finisher. He lends balance to the team. If Irfan Pathan can rediscover the potential he showed earlier with the ball than Dhoni and Irfan could be the no. 6 & 7 for India for a long time and enable India to play 5 bowlers. Dhoni can easily play at no. 6 as a batsman.
The captaincy sits well on Dhoni because he never was looking for it, he was never a captain at domestic or club or college level. Now that it has come he has taken to it like a fish to water. He is very cool and balanced and doesn’t get flustered easily. He doesn’t care if critics question the logic of 8 to 1 offside field. He simply re-iterates in Hindi, “Chal gaya to strategy, nahi chala to negative cricket.” (If it works its strategy if it doesn’t its negative cricket.”)
Dhoni will also be tested at some stage when his side will lose a few matches, that is when his character will be tested. But like I said if the team is good than the captain is good and if the team is good than they cannot lose consistently.
The appetite is whetted the lips are being licked, Let the Golden era, the Dhoni era commence…!!!!