India v Sri Lanka, 2nd Test, Kanpur, 4th day

India hit century on road to top

India rank as one of the most consistent sides in world cricket now, so much so that a victory in Mumbai will put them at the top of the Test rankings

Nagraj Gollapudi

November 27, 2009

Comments: 21 | Text size: A | A

Pragyan Ojha gets the congratulations from MS Dhoni as India walk off victorious, India v Sri Lanka, 2nd Test, Kanpur, 4th day, November 27, 2009
Pragyan Ojha impressed with his accuracy on debut © AFP
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Report : India record 100th win in style
Players/Officials: Sreesanth
Series/Tournaments: Sri Lanka tour of India
Teams: India | Sri Lanka

There was one important similarity between India's first Test victory in 1952 and their hundredth today: Celebrations were restrained - "subdued", as Wisden reported of the first instance - on both occasions. Back in the fifties that was a sign as much of the times as of India's minnow status - Vijay Hazare's men were not expected to surprise Donald Carr's side to level the five-Test rubber in Madras. Half a century later, India rank as one of the more consistent sides in world cricket and there were no pretensions about their comprehensive win over Sri Lanka in Kanpur today.

One possible reason for the restraint shown today is that this Indian team is finally getting used to winning. Through this decade, India have moved steadily towards the top of the table under spirited leaders like Sourav Ganguly, Rahul Dravid, Anil Kumble and now MS Dhoni. Their individualistic approach encouraged team-mates to express themselves clearly. At the same time every player got his own space and subsequently the dressing-room environment has become more positive and transparent.

The effects were evident in the performance of Sreesanth in Kanpur. He walked into the team from the cold, a discard with a dodgy temperament. His 19-month spell in isolation taught him patience and fired his hunger; he reined in his wild side and focussed instead on bowling good balls consistently while working batsmen out.

Sreesanth's inclusion was a punt alright but a calculated decision. Not convinced by Ishant Sharma's ability to come out of his rough patch, the team put its faith in Sreesanth's prodigious reverse-swinging capabilities. In return, he fast-tracked Sri Lanka's downfall on Thursday with terrific spells of swing and seam bowling. "He played in a different way this Test," a clearly pleased Dhoni said after the Test. "He was aggressive but controlled his emotions. That's what is important."

The operating margins at this level of cricket are wafer-thin; India's decision on Sreesanth proved inspired while Sri Lanka's gamble on three spinners, expecting the pitch to break as soon as the sun came out, left them high and dry. Yet India had a plan and stuck to it. They read correctly the Green Park pitch as dry and tending towards the slower side despite a light stubble on the eve of the game.

So Amit Mishra celebrated his birthday on the bench watching the left-arm spinner Pragyan Ojha making his debut. A good debut too - forget his four wickets, what was most impressive about his performance was his accuracy. Every time he was thrown the ball he put the Sri Lankans on the defensive. The weight of his success increases when you compare him to Ajantha Mendis, whose mystery has been built by his skill to pitch the ball accurately and consistently on the same spot.

That Mendis was rendered ineffective was because the Indian openers Virender Sehwag and Gautam Gambhir attacked him relentlessly and forced him to change his lines and lengths. He was not the only Sri Lankan bowler to lose his confidence. Throughout the two games Muttiah Muralitharan has been made to look a pedestrian by the Indian batsmen, who took advantage of the slow pitches on offer at both Ahmedabad and Kanpur and erased in part the wounds inflicted on them by these two bowlers in Sri Lanka last year.

That series included India's last Test defeat, in Colombo. In 11 subsequent Tests, spanning four series (including the current one), India have won five Tests. They are now favourites to win their fourth straight series as they travel to the Brabourne Stadium, the venue of India's first Test in 1933; if they win there they will take the top spot in the ICC Test rankings. Much has been achieved in 57 years; much remains to be done.

Nagraj Gollapudi is an assistant editor at Cricinfo

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Posted by crownish on (November 28, 2009, 15:09 GMT)

India's first test was at the Bombay Gymkhana grounds and not Brabourne Stadium

Posted by sham_sh on (November 28, 2009, 12:41 GMT)

a nice feel of india win.but its not a win by batsmen.pitch was tailormade for batsmen and if these big name did some it was good.but real work done by our bowlers.well done our team india.but pls u all dont support a selfish cricketer like tendulker.who always played for records

Posted by RJN-D on (November 28, 2009, 12:00 GMT)

Farce-Follower...Mix Dravid and Sehwag, and you have Gambhir.

Posted by Rugsy on (November 28, 2009, 9:25 GMT)

This series marks the end of Murali as a bowler against teams used to playing spin. He should gracefully retire, and if records are important to him, concentrate against the lesser teams to reach 800 wickets. India and Australia will not oblige him.

Posted by atuljain1969 on (November 28, 2009, 7:59 GMT)

Well done Indian cricket team. Tendulkar is getting due reward for his love of game for the past 20 years. Though he still cherishes a world cup win before he retires, yet last 5-10 ten years of cricket after match fixing saga, has seen India as a dominant force in world cricket on every front. They have won 20-20 world cup, reacehd final of world cup in south africa, have beaten teams on foreign shores consistently nowadays. So I really feel good for Crickets true gentleman getting rewarded now. May he gets the strength to accomplish more feats for India before he stop playing all forms of cricket.

Posted by Farce-Follower on (November 28, 2009, 2:58 GMT)

The two most valuable players in this side : Sehwag and Dravid. One sets it up for India, even in the most adverse conditions. The other lends stability, again, in the most adverse conditions.

Posted by pradeep_dealwis on (November 28, 2009, 2:11 GMT)

yes. A good victory for India...buy also remember it was lrgley thanks to the pitch...if SL had won the toss and batted first the result could easily been this margin for SL...

Posted by shaurya on (November 28, 2009, 1:06 GMT)

a special moment for all of us to celebrate..jai hind

Posted by gitapat on (November 28, 2009, 0:12 GMT)

The Indian selectors had chosen Sreesanth by default who was the obvious first choice for Tests.Now that he has performed ,the selectors will do well to reign him in on his on-field and off-field antics and ensure that he is a regular member of the side for tests.The Indian pace attack will be well-settled with the inclusion of Asish Nehra who has been bowling brilliantly.Zaheer Khan,Sreeshanth,Ishant Sharma and Asish Nehra will serve for atleast another 2 years.Likewise the selectors should include Piyush Chawla who with a bit of guidance will makeup the spin squad of Haribhajan,Ojha and Mishra. All that the selectors need to do in batting,is to include Rahul Dravid forthe 50-over ODIs and have Virender Sehwag as a back-up for him. These changes will ensure that India tops both the Test and ODI rankings and win the next World Cup.

Posted by Ramski1 on (November 28, 2009, 0:10 GMT)

Indias middle order has been their strong suit for the last 10 yrs, what is now taking them to the top of the rankings is the emergence of Gambir at the top and Yuvraj + Dhoni in the lower middle order.

The bowling also seems to have come on significantly. There seems to be a pool of pace bowlers that have stepped up to the plate at various points that has taken India to the next level. Z.Khan has been consistant over a long period, RP Singh in England, Sresanth in SA and now against SL, Ishant Sharma against Australia have all contributed. Add to that list Munaf Patel and the returning Nehra and things look pretty good.

India have been blessed with quality spin bowlers for as long as I have watched cricket and that looks to be covered for the forseable future with the likes of Ojha/Mishra/H. Singh on the scene.

Please BCCI dont be greedy with 20 20, now is the time for India to rule the world in Test and ODI cricket!! Get the scheduling right and dont neglect Test Cricket!

Posted by anreddy9 on (November 27, 2009, 23:13 GMT)

Its kinda unbelievable that we cud be No. 1!! It shouldn't be as surprising as we have been # 2 and 3 for sometime now, but the fact that we have never been #1 in anything, esp. in any sport, it makes all the very exciting!!! Go India go!!!

Posted by rocket123 on (November 27, 2009, 22:43 GMT)

Well done India! India is a cricketing force in modern times becuase of Ganguly's leadership. He got under the skin of mighty and arrogant Australians and instilled a strong feeling of self-belief and self-expression in Indian players. His captaincy and belief in his players began the era of fabulous 4 (Tendulkar, Dravid, Laxman and himself-Ganguly) and addition of imposing Shewag completed the supreme, stylish and elegant batting line-up which could tear apart any threatening bowling line-up. It was his leadership that Indian batsmen justified their abilities and talents all over the world. If India had the bowlers of the likes of 2Ws and Shoaib Akthar, I am sure India could have been second to none and invincible.

Posted by Skids on (November 27, 2009, 20:20 GMT)

I've always been a big supporter of Sreesanth and supported him even during his antics and his time away from the scene. He's transformed from a mercurial, eccentric, misunderstood but superbly talented fast bowler...to a professional, emotionally-controlled, generally likeable wicket-taking machine. As much as his new avatar has been impressive, I will fondly remember his jig against the bully Andre Nel when he swatted him for a 6 and came half-way down the pitch with his bat waving...or his aggressive hand-thumping of the pitch when he'd clean bowled an Australian batsman. Sreesanth and Gautam Gambhir are aggressive, young, eye-on-the-prize, show-no-mercy kind of cricketers that I am proud to have in our team. From a Punjabi to a Malayalee I say full-throatedly - Chak De Phattey yaar! Brrrruuaaaahhhh!!

Posted by girikula on (November 27, 2009, 18:31 GMT)

The success of India in last decade is mainly due to Kumble, Dravid, Laxman, Ganguly, Sehwag and Tendulkar. Dravid-Laxmans have won and saved many matches, while Kumble-Bajji have won many matches (while Sachin has amassed only records - truly following his guru Gavaskar). Dhoni is very very lucky to be leading a team of great and experienced cricketers. Hence any high ratings acheived should not go to Dhoni alone. There is nothing great deal he has done for India's test cricket success. India is lucky to be having cricketers mentioned above. Anyway, well done India! Keep it up! - Girish, Bangalore

Posted by ajay_jadeja on (November 27, 2009, 18:07 GMT)

Congrats to Indian team on the 100th test victory. We are all happy that India has topped the ODI ranking. Being No. 1 is not a single day affair, if you have to top you need to be consistent. When the team is winning we tend to carried away with the success and the flaws are masked. I have three formula which can make India really consistent, first one is to field at high stands, second to handle pacy and bouncy tracks and bowlers with big heart who can bowl at brett Lee's pace. This is the way to go. All the best to Indian team for the future matches and future series.

Posted by Sidhanta-Patnaik on (November 27, 2009, 16:54 GMT)

Enriching statistics and literature

Posted by Alexk400 on (November 27, 2009, 16:52 GMT)

Without sehwag india had no chance of winning. Dice fell in our favor. Would have could have won't be good for srilankans.

Without spinning pitches Srilanka can not beat India. They need 3 to 4 fast bowlers in their line up like Vaas. Malinga was only quality bowler. Prasad is steadily improving like siddle. After that there is no one Test quality. Mathews jogging bowling is useless in test with his batting is not that good.

Srilanka may also next TEST as it will be flat wicket again. BCCI is afraid of making spinning wicket against srilanka to make murali ineffective.

Posted by avkris on (November 27, 2009, 16:37 GMT)

Its a pity that the World's No.1 Test team isn't playing enough test matches!! Its a shambolic on the part of the BCCI that the team is playing only 5 in the next 10 months including the current series!! Thats ridiculous when you consider the fact that teams like Australia and England play more than 10 tests each year. The BCCI has got to do some serious thinking about this, else the interest in the Test matches will only continue to decline. Test cricket is my favourite and my extremely angry and disappointed at this. The crowds in the last two games have been fantastic making a mockery of all the unnecessary hype over the "Death of Test Cricket" in the media. I hope and pray that the BCCI changes this apathy towards Test Cricket when the next FTP comes up. "T20's are good, ODI's are very good, but Test Cricket is excellent"

Posted by GeorgeB on (November 27, 2009, 15:56 GMT)

Lol "enroute to where ...." ! You are in dreamland son Indians have won 39 of 102 matches this decade, Australia have won 76 of 112. Indians overall win % is 23 Australia is 46, Pakistan, South Africa, Sri Lanka, Englad are all in the 30s. The article should be Indian are really lousy but doing a bit better, not heading to peak you ain't even at the first camp. You haven't unloaded the pensioners(dravid, sachin, laxative) yet, when you do the whitewashes will resume.

Posted by Dinker-cktlover on (November 27, 2009, 15:28 GMT)

India is definitely not the No1 side in tests no matter what ratings say after Mumbai match.For that we have to beat SA in SA(which seems highly unlikely).BUT india has defintely improved when it compares to performing outside subcontinent thanks to batters like Dravid,Laxman,Sachin,sehwag and bowlers like Zak,Ishant,RP,Sreesanth..none of them are Mcgraths/Lillies but as a unit capable of taking 20 wkts....Irfan also should join this band if justice is served...BCCI should take steps to rehabilitate him...instead of concentrating on meaninglss T20 s like IPL BCCI needs to nurture test ckt...mere lip service wont do..AND the real challenge for india will be post 2010 when the likes of dravid,lax and sachin are gone...then we will see the real mettle of "Dhoni's boyz".bcos none of them ca nbe bracketed as Dhoni's boy.....my bet is by that tim Aus will have formed a core group of test players and be back at the top..wish i will be proved wrong...

Posted by zak123kaif on (November 27, 2009, 14:04 GMT)

Nice article for all indian fans.Definitely india will become the best test side and later in ODIs too and great players like tendulkar,dravid deserve to be the part of best side.GOOD LUCK TEAM INDIA

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