Not one more inch

Winning is great, sure, but if you are really going to do something in life, the secret is learning how to lose. Nobody goes undefeated all the time. If you can pick up after a crushing defeat, and go on to win again, you are going to be a champion someday.” – Wilma Rudolph

The world no.1 Test ranking is one of the most important achievements of this Indian Cricket Team. Yes there are only 10 Test playing nations, but Cricket is our country’s biggest romance.

Yea Hockey is our national sport, but Cricket, is our national aspiration.

Over a period of time, India has always produced brilliant, rare, talented, gifted and humble cricketers. They always have had some really wonderful individual cricketers and hence the demigod worshipping. Sunil Gavaskar was I think the first Indian cricketer who told India that they could produce the best in the world, better than anyone. Kapil rode the Indian spirits with him, he gave us highs we never thought could be ours, while Gavaskar gave us the belief we belonged and that we were equals, Kapil gave us the thrill of being fearless, taking risks and doing the impossible, he exhilarated us.

We always had magicians in spinners, Bedi, Prassana, Chandra the trio was a fascinating pairing and they wove a web around the batsmen. Wristy Vishwanath or stylish Azharruddin, the sneezing coughing Srikanth or the Champion of Champion Ravi Shashtri. India got Sachin at the age of 16 and with it we also got a boon, he would never age !!!!! If Anil Kumble displayed a lion heart, Dravid showed India what the bulldog spirit was all about. Ganguly and Laxman gifted with boons of timing could do almost anything at ease & in Sehwag they had a fearless maniac whom all opposition dreaded facing.

India were always blessed with individual talents, but in a team sport, you need 11 individuals who collectively win you matches and not just one or two brilliant performances. Yes, we won the world cup in 1983 and the World Series in 1985-86, but never have we consistently won outside the subcontinent in Test Cricket.

We Indians marvel at staggering individual records, we get obsessed with personal milestones, however we always miss the bigger picture that is the team.

“I am a member of a team, and I rely on the team, I defer to it and sacrifice for it, because the team, not the individual, is the ultimate champion.” –

Mia Hamms

Some glaring mistakes were made before this very, very important South African series. India is claiming it is world no. 1, but people in South Africa & Australia claim its a mere statistic. Not just people, even cricketers from these country’s taunt us and challenge us to beat them in their country. Yes, we have won many a game, but is it not the biggest sign of champion teams to do well in the most demanding of situations ???

Yes, Sachin scored his 50th ton, but ask Sachin, its a monkey off his back, he was always going to do so. Yes Rahul scored 12000 runs, but then again, he was going to do so.

Sachin and Rahul would be most happy to be scoring two golden ducks and India winning the first test !!!!

The second test starts on Boxing day and anxiety as it were is around me, Durban will have the GREENEST and the BOUNCIEST pitch in South Africa If India wants to claim to be number 1 team in the world actually, we must conquer our ghosts here.

There is no shame in losing. But the way we lost in the first test was as humiliating as it could be. Not for 30 minutes in the entire test match did we look as if we could beat them. Rave as you might like about the brilliant performances in batting in the second innings, what actually is a fact is that in 2 innings we couldnt even score what South Africa scored in half an innings. Imagine that one specialist batsman, Ashwell Prince in South Africa was not even required to bat !!!!!!!

The truth is India was PUMMELLED into submission in the first test match. We were embarassed. It was not as if there was a contest and we competed well and we lost. We were totally ousted in all departments of the game.

Yes, we should have reached here a lot early to prepare well for this series and yes, we should have played practice matches et all. That is for the board to learn and keep in mind, however that can only happen if the board thinks of having the number 1 test team is the most important thing rather than being the richest board in the world. Yes, we should have taken better support bowlers but all that is a passe.

It is time for our players to once again rise, show, that no matter if their board will not help, no matter if the going is tough, that they are fighters. That is the situation the team finds itself in. The next 5 days starting from boxing day will actually be most crucial, can India find enough grit, courage to stand up and actually put up a show worthy of some respect.

The one thing you can be sure of though is that each one in that team must be hurting. The team takes pride in calling themselves no.1 in Tests. This was a goal set up by the team. They dont want to be ousted like this, no ways.

On Boxing day it will be time to display character, it will be time to fight back, it will be time to re-gain lost momentum.

“A champion is someone who gets up when he can’t.” – Jack Dempsey

The Indian team watched, Remember the Titans before the 2003 World Cup, its time they should watch the movie again as they face a herculean challenge :

We shall not let the Proteas gain one more INCH !!!! NOT ONE MORE INCH !!!!! That should be the mantra… !

the acid test now beckons

All the big talk I had has been squashed. The first test has ended and we were totally outplayed. Yes, we did bat well in the second innings, but not for one moment in the first test did we look like we could cause South Africa trouble while they batted. OMINOUS SIGNS !!!!

Having said that, cricket is a funny game, one outswinger, two wickets and suddenly you set panic in the opposition ranks. India would do well to keep that in mind. After the first two tests in the Ashes not even the staunchest Australian fan could have predicted the way Australia came back.

Unfortunately for India this is not a 5 test series and that means India cannot afford the luxury Australia have. In a 3 match series its a herculean task as everyone says, but India has to take match by match.

Simply bat well in the first innings in the second test. Bowl tight and Zaheer coming back will help. Indian bowling can get 20 wickets, I firmly believe so, the important thing will be for Dhoni to have faith in that and to make his bowlers believe the same.

I always remember the evening at Eden Gardens after Laxman and Dravid had batted the whole day and after the days play when Harsha asked Ganguly when would he declare and does he see any other result than a draw, and Ganguly famously just put his arm around Bhajji and said,

“Kal yeh mujhe Test Match jitayenga !!!!”

and the rest as they say is history.

Now is the time, when the skipper and the seniors will have to ensure the heads dont drop and the team keeps its head. Things can change and fast !! Indian skipper, batters and bowlers need to believe most of all, they are good and they can actually take on the might of the Proteas on green bouncy tracks. Now will be the test of their belief and the test of their characters.

Proving the world that we are No.1 is not an easy task, not at all and Dhoni is just discovering it… Like Pete Sampras said… becoming no.1 is easy… staying there a hell lot more difficult !!!!

bring them on…

Corrie van Zyl has fired the opening Salvo by saying records dont lie and India’s record in South Africa wouldnt scare anyone… He also feels the pace and bounce of South African conditions would be of trouble to the Indians. That playing in IPL in Africa wouldnt help…

Steyn has plans for Sehwag…

Morne Morkel awaits duel with dangerous openers…

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The more these opponents fire salvo’s and keep announcing statements I kinda love it. I think it will only deepen the resolve of this team. Captain cool Dhoni rarely reacts, but I am sure he is listening, so is Sehwag and Co.

This is the beauty of Test Cricket, this build up, the threats from the opposition bowlers to knock the block off the batsmen. This talk of Chin Music I am just loving it. Now each and every time an Indian batsman will sway or hook or comfortably play the bouncer it will just gladden my heart. This is the moment of reckoning, the Indian batsmen can brace for some short, pacy stuff…

Thank God we have Ishant, SreeSanth and Zaheer to give it back. This will eventually prove to be the difference. Lets see who utilises the seamer friendly conditions more… !!!!!!!

As much as I want Sehwag to deliver and perform in this series, I somehow have a very sneaking suspicion it will be Gambhir and Ishant who will win the honours in their respective departments.

One day to go… and the adrenalin couldnt be pumping any harder…

Enough of talking, time for some action…. bring them on… sez me… !