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January 1, 2009
Kris Srikkanth, the chairman of India's national selectors, has outlined two important targets for the team - to be the No. 1 ODI team this year and top the Test rankings by 2010. He says India are currently the most balanced among the top three teams, including Australia and South Africa.
"I believe India are the best-balanced side, in batting and bowling, among the top three teams," Srikkanth told the Hindu. "But then, the development of a side is a process and cannot be done overnight. At the end of 2009, we should be the No. 1 team in the ODIs. By 2010, we should be the top team in Test cricket. This is the dream of the selection committee and the Board."
Srikkanth was optimistic about India's chances on the upcoming tour of New Zealand in March-April, and cited the overseas record over the last three years to back his assessment. "We have been performing consistently well in all conditions. We have beaten the West Indies in the West Indies and England in England in Test cricket. But for the umpiring errors in Sydney, we could have won the series in Australia too.
"We won a Test in South Africa and came close to winning the series. Our bowlers, I believe, have always done well outside India. Now our batting is complementing the bowling."
In the one-day arena in 2008, India won the CB tri-series in Australia early last year followed by bilateral series victories against Sri Lanka and England but, in between, fell in the finals of the Kitply Cup and the Asia Cup to Pakistan and Sri Lanka respectively.
Srikkanth said he also expected Rahul Dravid, who struggled for form last year, to play a crucial role at the No.3 slot in the Test team, especially during the away series in New Zealand.
"He's a batsman with over 10,000 runs in Test cricket," Srikkanth said. "Dravid is also among the greatest batsmen the world has produced. If you don't give Dravid the extra leeway, whom are you going to give it to?
"We have specific plans. During the forthcoming series in New Zealand, a player like Dravid will be very crucial for us. There will be bounce and movement for the pacemen there. If India are to progress to the No. 1 ranking, it has to beat New Zealand in New Zealand. Dravid will be a key member of the line-up at the No. 3 slot."
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