India v Sri Lanka, 3rd Test, Mumbai, 5th day

It's been a long road to No. 1

Over the course of the decade, India's not-so-formidable links have gotten progressively stronger

Dileep Premachandran

December 6, 2009

Comments: 99 | Text size: A | A

The Indian team and management celebrate going No. 1, India v Sri Lanka, 3rd Test, Mumbai, 5th day, December 6, 2009

A decade ago, India were annihilated 3-0 by an Australian side on the cusp of world domination. Even for a nation that had been bowled out for 42 in a Test and been heavily beaten on other occasions, it was a nadir that said much about the state of their Test game. Prior to that tour, the board secretary's private thoughts had been leaked, and his prediction of a 3-0 defeat turned out to be uncannily accurate. A few months later, Hansie Cronje's South Africans became the first touring side to win in India since the days when permed hair was fashionable. From that Mariana-Trench low to this No.1 high, it's been a long 10-year road.

It was interesting to listen to MS Dhoni speak of short-term goals afterwards. Like many of the seniors in his team, he doesn't lose sleep over the rankings. He's probably aware that Sri Lanka too could have assumed the mantle with a series win, despite never have won so much as a Test in India, South Africa or Australia. India themselves have series-win boxes left to tick in Australia and South Africa, but for the moment, this achievement will be cause for celebration. After all, it's not as though India or Sri Lanka devised the ranking system, which affects every team in the same way.

Though they may not voice it publically, there's little doubt that these moments at the summit, no matter how short they prove to be - South Africa can take over with a 2-0 success against England - mean a lot to the seniors who were part of that drubbing in Australia 10 years ago. Soon after Zaheer Khan's fine morning spell sealed a second successive innings victory and confirmed India's ascension to No.1, Rahul Dravid said: "Rankings are not something I concern myself with overly, but I believe it's a good reflection of the kind of cricket we've played over the past few years."

If that ill-fated tour of Australia in 1999-2000 taught many players harsh lessons about the game and the rub of the green, then it was the next visit there that really laid the platform for what India have gone on to achieve since. Having overcome improbable odds to thwart Steve Waugh's quest for Indian glory a couple of years earlier, India went into the series without being overawed or intimidated. With a little more luck on the final day at the SCG, they could even have won.

They followed that with a first-ever triumph in Pakistan and their first series victories in the West Indies (2006) and New Zealand (2009) in more than a generation. Zaheer Khan's sensational bowling and a solid batting display ensured victory in England in 2007, jellybeans and all, and over the past 15 months there have been comfortable home successes against Australia and Sri Lanka, and a epic last-day heist against England.

In the new millennium, India have won 40 and lost 27 of their 103 Tests. In the past five years, the win-loss record is 22-10. It goes without saying that it's been the most successful epoch in India's cricket history, one that has been shaped by a golden generation and some nearly forgotten fringe players. When asked of the contribution of the seniors, Dhoni pointedly spoke of how "everyone who has played over the past four of five years has played a part".

Some of those men are now just fond memories. Sourav Ganguly and Anil Kumble retired 12 months ago, while John Wright left the coaching job in 2005. All three were major pillars in their own way, as were support staff members like Adrian Le Roux, Andrew Leipus and Greg King.

Spare a thought too for the players who have come and gone. How many remember Sanjay Bangar, whose first-day defiance alongside Dravid was so pivotal in India squaring a series at Headingley in 2002? And what of RP Singh, on the honours board at Lord's in a game that India saved largely because of a tremendous rearguard action from Dhoni?

Victory in Pakistan in 2004 would never have been possible without the tireless efforts of Irfan Pathan and L Balaji, with both new ball and old. Even more unexpected was the contribution of M Vijay at the CCI. In for the absent Gautam Gambhir, he was both fluent and solid as Virender Sehwag and India got their second double-century start of the series.

As the cliché goes, a team is only as strong as its weakest link. Over the course of the decade, India's not-so-formidable links have gotten progressively stronger. The fielding will never rival Australia or South Africa, but the catching is invariably safe, and there's finally a bowling attack capable of taking 20 wickets in most conditions.

Zaheer, Sreesanth and Ishant Sharma will make most teams think twice before preparing a green top, and successes at the WACA and the Wanderers have gone a long way to exploding the stereotype of India being poor travellers. If there is a concern, it lies in the waning quality of the spin stocks, though it's far too early to pass judgement on the likes of Pragyan Ojha and Amit Mishra.

Though they may not voice it publically, there's little doubt that these moments at the summit, no matter how short they prove to be mean a lot to the seniors who were part of that drubbing in Australia 10 years ago

Over the next year or two, the No.1 ranking will change hands often. Unlike in the days when Australia, and West Indies before them, ruled the roost, it no longer signifies the best team in the world. For India, greater challenges await, but there's little use brooding about Australia or South Africa right now. When asked if victory in those climes was essential to be legitimate top dogs, Dhoni said: "Let's see when we go there. We can't play them sitting here."

Five years ago, in an interview with the Sunday Times, Sachin Tendulkar spoke of why Australia were the No.1 team in the world. "They deserve that status because they've beaten every other country both home and away," he said. "When we start to win series abroad on a regular basis, then I can say that we are definitely No.2. But right now, there are three or four teams pretty close together. If anyone wants to be the undisputed No.2, they'll have to start winning wherever they go."

The world has changed since then, and teams can aspire to more than bridesmaid status. Tendulkar and the other weatherbeaten warriors alongside him has done as much as anyone to get India to where they are now. Regardless of what happens over the next few months, it's something to savour. In a country where both administrators and fans are obsessed with cricket in coloured clothes, whether it be over 50 or 20 overs, the players deserve much credit for keeping their eyes on the red ball. After the horrors of a decade ago, these are the best of times.

Dileep Premachandran is an associate editor at Cricinfo

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Posted by Monishjoshy on (December 10, 2009, 1:37 GMT)

When we go through the history of cricket, It was England and Australia were on prime focus through the famous 'Ashes series' when cricket started getting attraction, Era of 'Don Bradman and Douglas Jardine'. In 1970's West Indies became the power house of cricket, Era of 'Viv Richards and Sir Garfield Sobers'. In 1983, India defeated the 3 time champions West Indies and won the world cup, Era of ' Kapil Dev and M.Amarnath'. In 1990's Australia became the power house of cricket, Era of 'Stev Waugh and Allan Border'. Again Australia was unstoppable in the beginning of 2000, Era of 'Ricky Ponting and Gilchrist'..Now it is going to be the Era of 'MS Dhoni and his team'..Reasons for India's supremacy in cricket -1)Indian players have given much respect to WI and Australian bowler's before, Present batting line up of Sewag, Gambhir, Yuvraj and Dhoni hammer any bowler without any fear 2)Dhoni is captain cool 3) Indian fast bowlers like Zaheer, Sreesanth and Ishanth can intimidate any team

Posted by girikula on (December 8, 2009, 18:04 GMT)

ITJOBSUCKS - it looks like u hav plenty of time to prepare stat when Sachin did score and India won. Spend same time and look out how many times Dravid has won or saved the matches. Many occasions someone else may have overscored, but without Dravid win or draw would not have been possible. Where as Sachin has been behind records just like his ex-mumbaikar Gavaskar. Very selfish in their attitude. Sachin was forced to leave the captaincy where as Dravid gave it away to avoid politics, while he was doing great.

Kazzamers - I agree with you. Gavaskar & Shastri have all the words on earth to praise every run , record, action Sachin is linked with. But they shut up when it comes to Dravid. A partiality - which is obvious for any true cricket lover.

Unfortunately, the media has hyped Sachin so much that none has guts to talk against him, I mean talk about his weak areas or poor performances. One thing all agree is that Sachin WAS great opener in ODIs and won many matches during 90s.

Posted by CKfrombrisbane on (December 8, 2009, 13:03 GMT)

India played well this time. You guys need to play overseas and prove that you are number 1. Indians always good in Indian. Sri Lankan always good in Sri Lanka. It is too early to that, India is number 1. Indian commentators are happy about this win and it is funny.

Posted by CKfrombrisbane on (December 8, 2009, 9:46 GMT)

Well, I agree the fact that India played well this time. However, you guys need to play oversees very well and show the talent to get the number 01 status. Beating Sri Lanka in India is not a big deal and Indian commentators are very happy about that. That very funny!

Posted by pure_cricket on (December 8, 2009, 6:20 GMT)

I love the fact that India has reached the top of the tree and will always savour this day. I would have loved to see Team India play competitive matches with top tier test countries, instead all I'll get to see in the next one year is two test matches with Bangladesh! Oh look what you've done BCCI!

Posted by RoshanF on (December 8, 2009, 4:10 GMT)

SatyajitM, I'm not saying that the no.1 team should be invincible but they have to be clearly better than the rest. Like in tennis - the no 1 player does not have to win all the 04 Grand Slam event to be no. 1, but gets significantly more points in winning them than for other tourneys (yes, Safina's no. 1 ranking was a sore thing). What I'm saying is that for a team that does well away (not just in a series as a whole but even for individual tests) give more points, perhaps bonus points, for Test wins and for squaring a series. Just to recognize the achievements away from home. By the way this ranking system started in 2001 when the Aussies were at their peak and nobody would have begrudged their no. 1 ranking even though they did not win all the series they played in (particularly in India). But then neither did the even more greater West Indian team of the late 70s and 80s - remember they were always challenged whenever they came up against Pakistan. But now things are very murky .

Posted by kalyanbk on (December 8, 2009, 1:02 GMT)

India has played some exciting cricket and showed consistancy to be deserving No. 1. To those who complain about the lack of series success in Aus and SA, it must be remembered that Pete Sampras never won on Clay in the French Open but was still regarded as No. 1. India was the one country who pushed Australia consistently even when Australia was at their peak. However I do agree that India needs a fast bowling all rounder or someone like an Ambrose to sustain their success and achieve series wins in SA and Aus.

Posted by Cybertox on (December 7, 2009, 22:49 GMT)

i think the ranking system is fine the way it is. If SL had won the series, the 2 teams would be occupying each other's current places. Just that thing are so close at the top. India's No.1 ranking simply means that they have been the most consistent team during the recent past(although only by a slight margin cuz SA is only 2 points behind). It doesnt mean they're the best team in the world.

Personally, i dont think there's much of a difference between the top 4 currently. You simply need to look at the rating point rather than rankings to see that.

Posted by SatyajitM on (December 7, 2009, 15:54 GMT)

RoshanF, As per I know there was some technical reason why refferal wasn't available in this series. Also, the cricketing world (not only India) have mixed opinion about it. I don't know why we are suddenly worried that ICC ranking is flawed. If it it flawed it has been so from the beginning :-) Regardless of all things, India is the number 1 test side at the moment and deservingly so. I would agree that it is not an all conquering invincible unit. Far from that. SA is probably as good as Ind followed by Aus. Only undisputed champion this decade (till 07 when McGrath, Warne were there) has been Aus. SA never reached that state. Even the invincible Aus huffed and puffed to get a series win in Ind (end of 04). That too when Ind were not at their best and was playing after couple of months gap. Even through this decade India always troubled Aus. Now, you can actually expect to see good competion between a bunch of top sides headed by India. Which is good for cricket.

Posted by kriskini on (December 7, 2009, 15:53 GMT)

As a Indian I see the following as the most memorable moments of Indian cricket. 1983 world cup 1985 world championship (This could be the best as they outclassed every team) 2002 ? Champions trophy sharing with Srilanka (Not sure of the exact year) 2007 T20 world cup 2009 Reaching top in Test rating table.

Posted by ITJOBSUCKS on (December 7, 2009, 12:34 GMT)

@Nipun Don't make yourself fool infront of the whole world. India has won test series in srilanka(1-0) in 90's. To my friend RoshanF, I feel most of the srilankan's are looking for excuses like toss, pitch & so & so factor.... Then it becomes extremely difficult to win if you are depeneding on all these factors. I think that's the reason SL has got pathetic record outside SL especially AUS,SA,NZ,WI. Indian's were also same but in this decade, India has changed that stat. INDIA is the only team to compete in AUS both times (2004, 2008) & also in SA(2006) where series was decided in the final hour of the play. Critic may say INDIA didn't win series AUS(1-1 in 2004, 2-1 in 2008) & SA(2-1), but fact of the matter is that INDIA is the only team to compete AUS very hard in the last 10-12yrs. SA might have won series in AUS in 2008, but their record is pathetic in SA against AUS. They have lost all the 4 seires in SA to AUS. SL is good only competing against Bagla,Zim&WI.

Posted by DADA_IS_THE_BEST on (December 7, 2009, 12:22 GMT)

@@ Nipun, Leave alone a test series...SL is yet to win a test match in India and they were No 2 coming into this series..ROLF...and LOL LOL....agree with you completly mate.

Posted by ali_bukhari on (December 7, 2009, 11:47 GMT)

I am great Indian fan like many other Indian fans and this is really a proud moment. But I will be more realistic in my approach on saying Indian doesn't deserve to be on the top as teams like AUS and SA are far professional and consistent sides along with good teams like PAK and SRL who can defeat India any day anywhere. India rise to the top is more due to quantity of cricket they played over than the quality. Fact is that they won most of there matches of flat and docile pitches where Sehwag bamboozled op pents like hell and in bowling friendly conditions India seemed a totally different team. So India must work hard to maintain top spot and they need to be consistent.

Posted by CricketisMyPassion on (December 7, 2009, 11:18 GMT)

I liked the nice thought you spared for minor players who played major roles in some of these wins on the road to the top over the decade - like Irfan, Bangar and Balaji. Cricket is a team game and everyone must contribute in his own way for a win. Imagine Maninder Singh getting a single in the tied test in Chennai against Border's team in 1986. So it is not how many runs or wickets but whether a key contribution was made.

A number journos, players and fans make a distinction between the #i rank and the 'best team'! Ranking, with all its defects, is indisputable but the 'best team' is pretty controversial. Even in other sports like Tennis it is not that the the winner of a title Wimbledon gets to beat the #1 or #2 seed/ranked player to win the title always. Eg. Boris Beckr in 1987. Like Sachin had defined it winning against everyone, home and away, is the yardstick.

Thanks all the player,support staff. selectors and even BCCI who allplayed a part in this decade to make India #1.

Posted by Nipun on (December 7, 2009, 10:12 GMT)

I guess India haven't won a series in Sri Lanka too !!! No.1 ??? LOL !!! Now I know why even the cricketers label these rankings to be meaningless !!!

Posted by RoshanF on (December 7, 2009, 9:41 GMT)

SatyajitM, my friend too, what I'm saying about the referral system is why are the Indians so worried not to use it when Australia, West Indies, New Zealand, Pakistan are using it in their current series. I do not for a moment think that Sri Lanka can beat India IN India with this team but merely that the difference between the two teams would have been a lot closer. Remember it was Sehwag's flyers that set up the rest and he should have been out early in 2nd innings of the 1st test and 1st innings of the 3rd test but the umpires erred - badly. As for the ICC test rankings system it is flawed. Unlike most sports home advantage and especially the pitch has a huge say in cricket. Rankings should be on the basis of more points for wins or performances abroad - even a draw abroad should have more points than at home. FACT - because of 'heavily tailored' conditions (and not merely because of class) winning in India is THE most difficult thing in cricket. Historically it has been so.

Posted by Woodsy on (December 7, 2009, 9:29 GMT)

Yes, it is a fantastic moment for Indian Cricket.Its being a very long road strewn with failures, defeats & disapointments but finally the team members have come together over the last 2 years & produced the results that they have always been potentially capable of.the batting has been phenomenal but I would give greater credit to the bowlers. Zaheer, Ishant, Sreesanth, Harbhajan,Kumble, Ohja have all done splendidly to ensure that India wins matches & with it the series as well.The bench strength has also been very important. Ohja and Murali Vijay have stepped in to bolster the attack in the last series.But lets not forget RP Singh, Irfan Pathan and the guy who started it all, Saurav Ganguly.Jai ho India, what an achievement! Go India Go!

Posted by hithere81 on (December 7, 2009, 8:38 GMT)

It is time to finally savour the moment, having reached the No. 1 spot in Test rankings. At the same time, let us remember that we are clearly beatable, both at home and abroad. We need to build a team for the future, but nobody has the voice to ask if the 'superstars' in the team are going to last forever, or if they are indeed superhuman, and what is their shelf life. Also, one man in the team who goes by the name of Sehwag, has such an appetite for runs, and gets them in double-quick time, that India are always in the hunt. After Sehwag has fired, the opposition struggles to come out of the shock and the Indian bowlers have their tails up. Take him out of the equation, and the series may well have ended in three dull, dreary draws.

Posted by Vijay.Naik on (December 7, 2009, 8:20 GMT)

First of all congrats for Team... They truly deserve to be #1 in the World Cricket, unlike Australians. As my friend baluhebri (above comment) said Rahul is the most consistent player irrespective of the pitches and there'z big contribution from him in winning 40 and saving 33 tests. Once again congrats to Team India...

Posted by Sach_is_Life on (December 7, 2009, 8:11 GMT)

And for those of you who are talking abt India's recent loss to Aus in ODIs agnst a B-grade Aus side..wat abt your CB series loss to an Young Indian Side..with all new faces ..Atleast the last series was very close faught one unlike that CB series finals where an Young Indian team just outplays the World No 1 team in all departments and won 2 finals quite comfortably which starts their downfall..Anyway..Its always better for the sport to have 3 or 4 teams competing for the TOP spot..Go Team India...Go..!

Posted by ITJOBSUCKS on (December 7, 2009, 8:07 GMT)

Excellent, unbiased & brilliant article.It seems most of them wanted Dravid to get Man of the series, even though it's Sehwag who made the impact & scored runs when it mattered. I think Sachin has contributed more in INDIAN wins especially awaythan any other player. India's win against Eng(1-1)in 2001 (Sachin 193, Dravid 148, ganguly 100+), Eng in 2007(1-0) (Sachin 91 (Got a bad decission from taufel(later acknowledged) ,ganguly 76, laxman 50+), NZ in 2009(1-0) (sachin 163, Gambhir 60+, Dravid 71, Dhoni 50+), Aus in 2007-08 (sachin 70(once again same old story very bad decissions from Aleem Dar, dravid 93 (lucky to make 90 got couple of chances & also got out on no-ball, laxman 86), Aus in 2003-04(1-1) (Sachin 1, Dravid 233, Laxman 156) but sachin took 2 important wickets (Steve waugh & Martin) .@Alexk400 It seems he's got an agenda of bashing Sachin, Laxman & others, even though Sachin & laxman's contribution in last 3yrs is more than sehwag & definitely dravid's in INDIA's test win

Posted by Thesentinel on (December 7, 2009, 7:27 GMT)

Grats India! :)

I'm an avid Aussie supporter - but I'm very happy for India. I love Test cricket and I hope that now that India are ranked No1 test cricket will become more popular in the Sub Continent.

I also hope you don't have the problems we had when our best players retired, some of them the best ever - much like Tendullya, The Wall, Sehwag, Dada - but your bowlers are young and you have some great new prospects like Dhoni and Gambhir. Congratulations and all the best in the future! :)

Posted by SatyajitM on (December 7, 2009, 6:41 GMT)

@RoshanF, My frriend you are giving too much credit (or discredit) to the referral system. Do you suggest two innings victories would have been undone by just this system? Probably the margin if defeats would have been different. While Dilshan's deciosion was wrong, I doubt he would have got to 200 (his highest is 168 in 11 hundreds!). His second innings decision had some doubts but wasn't a howler. Though Hawk eye suggested something else, as per ex English spinner Robert Croft it was out. It is quite clear by now that technology can not give you full proof evidence for or against a decision. It can also demoralize umpires. Mark Benson is contemplating retirement after his decision was turned down by third umpire (I too saw it and there was no clear evidence of an edge). Going by the logic that a team has to win series in all outside countries, Aus wasn't a champiom team till 2004-05 when they beat Ind in Ind after a long time! Outrageous to suggest isn't it?

Posted by Jamesmangte on (December 7, 2009, 6:22 GMT)

Congrats Team India! It feels great to know that India is now the best test team in the world. And yes, to be a truly great champion of the game in test cricket, we must beat Aus in Oz and SA in SA. Winning a test series in these two countries would confirm the superiority of Team India. But for that our bowlers need to be more consistent in all conditions. Sehwag played brilliantly in the 3rd match. He was the man in the match but I strongly feel that Dravid would have been a better choice for the man of the series award since he was the most consistent batsman in the series. Somehow this man never gets his due. I can't imagine Team India doing well outside the subcontinent if Dravid wasn't in the team. His ability to play well in all conditions and in the toughest situations has helped India win and saved many test matches in India and abroad. I feel the turning point in India's test cricket happened when India toured Oz in 2003-2004 and nearly won the series there.

Posted by binkaf on (December 7, 2009, 5:52 GMT)

Congratulations India on Comprehensive Series win against Sri Lanka bt why 2 giv India being # 1 Test Team this much of air, amazing, not fair either! Jus giv them their due credit & stop it. Australia had been thr 4 long time and it'z in their blood to bounce back & reclaim the top spot; South Africa r also more than capable enough n so r rest of the nations playing to their full potential. It's not that gr8, unique-feat, to be at the helm of that sports which only has '8 good teams' as it'z being publicized by some of the media. Let it be guyz n let's concentrate on matches rather than shouting this n that. I, no way, mean to deny what India deserves but it'z not somethin 'Un-achievable' & 'has-never-done-before' it'z a routine phenomena. Your hard works pay off n u climb the summit, cheris it but do not make the issue of it coz the hell of the job iz not being # 1, but stick thr 4 long & only that makes any team gr8! This fact, if assimilated wud b gr; the sooner, the better!

Posted by RNSPavan on (December 7, 2009, 5:47 GMT)

The persistent efforts of the team have finally paid off. Indian fans have been longing to see this team scale the summit and this very achievement drove them crazy.Dhoni is lucky to lead a very strong side.Wonder where would India be without Sachin, Rahul and Laxman. The bigger task ahead is to retain this position. We'd love to see team India win the ODI world cup in 2011.

Posted by cricsmile on (December 7, 2009, 5:35 GMT)


Posted by NumberXI on (December 7, 2009, 5:09 GMT)

Good article. I think the big difference between India's oh-so-close stories in the past and now is that India now seems to have a combination of bowlers who can take 20 wickets between them. It is a pity that this had to happen after the untiring Anil Kumble, one of few Indian bowlers capable of running through sides, retired. If Kumble had this kind of bowling support maybe India would have won more often.

Posted by RoshanF on (December 7, 2009, 4:48 GMT)

No. 1, maybe on paper BUT much like the reign of Dinara Safina in tennis it sounds rather hollow. I mean sure India beat Sri Lanka very convincingly AT HOME. But SL beat India in Sri Lanka (with the referral system on). Now what does that prove. India are better than SL in India and vice versa. By the why did India not want the referral system for this series. Was it out of fear - er, in the test series in SL, the Sri Lankans won at least twice as many appeals by way of the refferal system. It also points to the fact that 1. Sri Lankans bowled at the stumps more often 2. Indian batsmen took many risks against deliveries in line with the stumps. Had the refferal system been in place here Sehwag would have not even got a century and poor Dilshan could have got to 200 in the 1st innings and a good score in the 2nd - after all he was the best SL batsman on show. Oh, by the way I'm sure glad the Sri Lankans did not get to no.1. They are only about 4th best behind India who really are 3rd

Posted by DEV_ME on (December 7, 2009, 4:46 GMT)

Tendulkar has rightly said that to be No.1, we need to win on tracks all over the world. For that we need to 'play' all over the world. I disagree that the fans here are obsessed with cricket in colored clothes. There are many who are starved for Test cricket, and BCCI denies to feed them ! To be the real No.1 and maintain it, India need to play atleast 2 test series of 3 matches each, every year. One in the sub-continent and one outside the sub-continent. To accomodate tests, BCCI can always do away with the T20 games in every series, afterall there is too much T20 already being offered by way of world cup, various leagues etc. For India, with only 2 tests in the near future, and with the seniors already being called 'grandpa' by the younger team mates, it is a difficult road ahead. We still do not have replacements for Sachin, Laxman and most important, Dravid. Dravid has been the key figure for India in all the tests in the last decade.

Posted by baluhebri on (December 7, 2009, 3:44 GMT)

i am compleet disagree with Man if the Series award. It should be the WALL Rahul Dravid. Shewag not played well in first test.. Dravid saved the match from Srilanka in that match.. Again Ravi Shastry talked with Sachin Only.. Why Dravid should be.. In this case only we can understand how they treating South Cricketers.. Very bad.. and Congratulation Team India..

Posted by sanjeevmukherjee2006 on (December 7, 2009, 3:22 GMT)

in my last article i mentioned India won a test series in SA, it should be India won a test match in SA. which brings a point how many times India, Pak and SL have toured SA, SA hosts mainly Aus, Eng and even WI, when was the last time India went to SA it was 2006, last time Pakistan went to SA again 5 years back same with SL, SA should host teams like Pak, India, SL. coming back to referral system, please read the comments of Tony Cozier not all decisions went correctly, such is the case that Marc Benson is considering retirement from his umpiring duty. Ponting he has a habit of fighting with umpires and players, it is high time he respects umpires and players from the opposite team. Australia have lost Ashes, lost to SA in SA and to India in India, they have won just one major series against SA in SA. Aus may be good in ODI but not as formadle in the test arena. After this series gets over against WI it would be interesting to see how Aus cope with Aamer, Asif and company.

Posted by HSPatel on (December 7, 2009, 2:14 GMT)

'ANIL KUMBLE' - The real hero to set number 1 place for India. What an amazing work he has been done for India. In last 15 years, he had major role in every game India won. Without him, I don't think I would have been able to take 20 wickets in this format of game. It's definately a team effort, but foundation was made stronger by some special individuals like Kumble, Laxman, Dravid and Tendulkar. Hope India can carry this for a long time... I do want them to win a test series in SA and Australia.

Posted by cricfanGenZ on (December 7, 2009, 1:38 GMT)

Congrats indian test team (everyone last 8 years)!! Ganguly played a pivotal role to get indian team out of that insecure, inferior feeling ,that it cannot be on TOP. Fight to win @ whatever cost. Kumble provided excellent brain, analysis, teaching every player to play their part to meet the overall goal to win. Austallia and Pak tour made him legend. Now, after ICL,IPL Indian players finally got into "can do" sentiments, what Ganguly started. Dravid is the KEY!!, opponents did't know how to get him out!! He is still a WALL. Never can I forget Laxman, in Australa, he was Dravid, Sachin and Ganguly combined. Sachin, Shewag will still carry the hero's image, but not in my mind. IPathan, Balaji, Sharma and Bhajji have stood out in certain series but Khan is a classact! Last 18 months team has worked hard to get here!! especially, improved fielding and running between wickets, don't know who gets the credit. Kudo's Keep it up!!

Posted by sidmag on (December 6, 2009, 23:45 GMT)

Yayyyy....Congrats to the Indian Team for reaching the top of the test cricket. It has indeed been a long journey to finally reach this level. Times were tough in the middle, but the Indian Tigers pull out of that and become victorious. MS Dhoni is an awesome captain. Looking forward to many more wins from India. Jai Ho India!

Posted by kriskini on (December 6, 2009, 22:19 GMT)

Congratulations to the Indian Team. This is definetely tougher than winning a world cup. Any team can win a world cup by playing good cricket for 3 to 4 weeks. But here a team has to play good cricket for a very long time whcih India did in the past 2 years or so. Sehwag's 293 can now be remebered for ever. India still need to win a test series in Australia and South Africa. Good luck to them.

Posted by Kazzamers on (December 6, 2009, 21:53 GMT)

Its very tough to reach the top. Its the fruit for life time efforts of Dravid,Sachin,Kumble,Sehwag,Zaheer,Bhajji,Ganguly and gr8 supporting cast like Gambhir,Pathan,Ishant.BUT no one is recognizing DRAVID...and the GREED of BCCI is EXPOSED...very few test matches....We cud easily lose the Crown...unless we encourage TEMPERAMENT and DEDICATION by recognizing people like Dravid....Ravi Shastri and Gavaskar are deliberately avoiding praising Dravid...

Posted by daniels1974 on (December 6, 2009, 21:49 GMT)

Ranked No. 1 for what? Winning matches only in India. Indai had taken the No. 1 ranking in ODI's for 23 hours. This one might last a little longer. India couldn't beat an Australian team with no less than 9 players injured in the recent ODI series in India. Beat other teams consistently home and away and then you can be called the No. 1 team in test/ODI cricket. Till then India is nothing but a pretender.

Posted by dp.01 on (December 6, 2009, 20:22 GMT)

1) Dravid should be man of the series as he was truely a man of the series 2) absent of Gambir was never felt. it did not have any impact on the team and result. and that is how it should be. your replacement should always be able to perform and dominate on any given day. individual's missing out or injury should never be felt. Team must perform and dominate on cosistent base. 3) nice on murali to be awarded 4) there must be balaced on t20s, odi, and test 5) another thing i noticed that your Skipper must be very lucky and telented at the same time 6) lastly, no Ads between overs on sat channels

Posted by GM_GM1 on (December 6, 2009, 19:41 GMT)

Like everyone (or atleast many) I also thought India can be no.1 in test only when they will win in SA and AUS. Looking at the form and quality of indian team, they might even win in AUS and SA today. But can those teams beat India in India at present (in Test)? For me this is enough (atleast at present) to think that India is no.1 team (in Test). Ofcourse India is far away from being no.1 in ODI. (specially when India playing it's best squad in India and loosing 4-2). One more point, many are saying Dravid should be given more popularity over Sehwag, Dhoni, Sachin, Gambhir. But the point is why? How many times he has been the top performer in any match? Most of the times someone else has performed better than Dravid. And we praise the No.1 performer always. But... when i think of only one Man who should be most credited for making India no.1 in test, it's no one else but the Wall. Someone said he's the Man behind the Man. But who care's as he's there to make Ind no.1 and not himself.

Posted by perrycox on (December 6, 2009, 19:38 GMT)

As an Australian, it bitterly grates to see any nation other than Australia achieve number one status in test cricket. HOWEVER, I remember well that feeling back in 1995 when we defeated the Windies and claimed the unofficial title. I would not want to take away from the Indians enjoyment of that feeling. Congraulations India. I also join the calls for the BCCI to schedule more tests in Test cricket's most populace nationa. Here's hoping that now that they have achieved some excellent test cricket results, maybe talk about the death of test cricket will cease and we can all get on with a great life of enjoying the multi-faceted types of cricket available. Afterall, apparently particular forms of cricket will only survive as long as it is popular in India.

Posted by tick on (December 6, 2009, 18:40 GMT)

whats all yell about.sometimes i can't understand the thinking of people.i love pakistani cricket.but that does not make one to start criticizing a team which has achieved a lot in last decade.india are number 1 and thats it.they definitely have best team in tests for last 2 years.either they would be winning after the retirements of tendulkar,dravid,laxman?or whether they can win in aus or saf? are questions of future.BUT FOR MY PAKISTANI FANS I would say that india are also number 1 becuse they had not dropped 15 catches in their last 30 matches as pakistan have dropped 15 in just 2 matches.hell of poor fielding(otherwise would have won series by now comfortably)DEFINITELY you need your all aspects to be best if you want number 1 tests.and india have done all credit to indians.

Posted by girikula on (December 6, 2009, 18:09 GMT)

Congrats to team India! Don't praise Dhoni too much, he has done little to carry forward. Credit should go to Ganguly, Dravid and Kumble as captaints. And Dravid,Laxman, Sachin, Ganguly, Sehwag as batsmen AND Kumble, Khan, Bajji as the key bowlers behind India's recent wins.

Dravid has een the pivot of Indian innings on almost all occasions. Be it willing the match or saving the match. This MESSAGE IS REFLECTED BY MANY VIEWERS ERE, WICH JUSTIFIES WAT KID OF PERSON DRAVID IS.

Dravid should have got the man of the series award, for he played best in all 3 matches. Its Sehwag's brilliance in 3rd test, that overshadowed every one else.

Anyway, lets just hope BCCI opens its eye and plans more tests matches, before our great players retire! So that we can enjoy some more great games! - Girish, Bangalore

Posted by sanjeevmukherjee2006 on (December 6, 2009, 17:47 GMT)

@trinswana09, and few other guys who think india have not won series outside they score only in india, pleaseeeeeeee check out the records in the last 2 series against england in england, one series was drawn and india won the next one in 2007, in the last 2 series against Pakistan in pakistan india and pakistan won one each, in the last 2 series against aus in aus, one series was drawn and australia won one (2-1), due to umpiring errors india lost the sydney test, india have beaten WI in WI test series and also India has beatem NZ in Nz where was ponting, why he couldnt face ishant sharma, india has also beaten a good SA side in SA in a test series also india has won odi series in ENg, Pak, WI, NZ,Aus,SL and in their own backyards, aussies r finished now dead and buried

Posted by MuthuIyer on (December 6, 2009, 17:46 GMT)


Posted by ArchCroydon on (December 6, 2009, 17:42 GMT)

WHat i donot understand is that why some people just cannot enjoy the feeling of this achievement. it really is a great achievemnet and you have very rightly mentioned about last 10 years.I fully agree with this. Only thing i am worried about is the lack of tests for the coming months but i hope BCCI would address this issue soon

Posted by captaincool on (December 6, 2009, 17:34 GMT)

A very nicely piece of article.It took an entire decade for India to reach where they are there today. Its not just an 18 month affair as put by Gary Kirsten. The process had started long back while Gary was still in his playing days. In my opinion, apart from the self belief of winning the tests overseas, a stable opening combination at the top has helped India, something which was a big bane for them in the 90's and early 2000's.

Posted by Kazzamers on (December 6, 2009, 17:32 GMT)

Congrats to team India. But i was feeling so bad, that Dravid was getting no special handshake or importance after wht win.Shastri also, deliberately Interviewed tendulkar, instead of inviting dravid too.But I have atleast seen some others remember dravid here :)

Posted by MarthaFocker on (December 6, 2009, 17:02 GMT)

Congrats to India for getting to #1. Let's savor it while it lasts which won't be very long given our track record. In the midst of all this euphoria I can't help but think how things would have turned out if both Warne and McGrath had played in the 2004 series against us down under. First, I don't think Viru would be the batsmen he is today because McGrath would never have let him get to 195 at Melbourne. Second, we wouldn't have won at Adelaide because Warne would have exploited the 5th day track much better than MacGill. I think we were incredibly lucky during that series which set in motion the events that allow us to sit at the summit today

Posted by Tlotoxl on (December 6, 2009, 16:28 GMT)

What have India done away recently? lost in Sri Lanka, lost in SA, lost in Pakistan , won in England after hanging for grim death in the first test - the last significant achievement away was drawing - not even winning - in Aus *7* years ago. This has more to do with England and SA beating Aus than anything India has done.

Posted by softpeople on (December 6, 2009, 16:27 GMT)

I remember I watched Pak-India Matches in 2004 in which Sehwag,Irfan Pathan & Dhoni did the most of damage to us, being Paki, I was really angry to watch Sehwag making 300 & in one day Dhoni smatches 150 plus in one day game, but being a cricket lover, I really loves to watch Sachin,Dravid,Sehwag,Yuvraj. This team is no doubt deserve a No 1 spot & playing very well right now. But probably it might be difficult for them to maintain this. If they play in Newzealand,Australia,England,SouthAfrica, they have to beat them in order to become a really good side.

Posted by Deepak_Kumar_bbsr on (December 6, 2009, 16:17 GMT)

Congratulation team India and Dhoni!!It's team effort which has helped India to reach this level.But as Dravid,Sachin are now in the last phase of their career,India should look for there replacement.And Team India should improve their improve fielding and maintain consistency to maintain no1 ranking for longer period.Special thanks to Gary Kirsten who boosted the team always.All the best for 2010.

Posted by ghaski on (December 6, 2009, 16:09 GMT)

Very good article. I liked the focus on people who also contributed (besides the obvious names) I would argue that this rise has been in the making for more than 25 years. I would argue that the nadir was in the 80's when team India had win-loss ratio of 50%. As members of one well formed unit retired one by one(Viswanath, Gavaskar, Kapil Dev..) and India had trouble finding really strong replacements. The team missed strong links rather than suffering from particular weak ones. In the 90's it went close to 90% with the arrival of Tendulkar, Ganguly, Dravid, Azharuddin, Srinath. In 00's we are seeing the fruits of further reinforcements like Sehwag, Gambhir, Zaheer... and the win-loss ratio is closer to 150%. With really strong players currently on the bench, and the dreaded IPL money machine enticing the billion people to try harder, the future of Indian cricket looks bright for some time to come.

Posted by vignesh.l on (December 6, 2009, 16:02 GMT)

well first i want to say congrats to team India!!!! i am very happy as an Indian cricket fan. Its a great team effort. all the credits must go to the batsman!!!! Dravid is in such a tremendous form, and i dont know why he was not included in the squad against australia!!!! we lost many matches in that series due to lack of contribution in middle order and lack of partnerships!!!! in that case dravid would be a perfect player!!!! he would have created a partnership with the master when it was desperately needed in that match where the master single handedly brought India close to victory!!!! though India has good batting order it needs some more experienced middle order against world champions!!!! so what i feel is Dravid must be recalled to ODI!!!!!

Posted by SatyajitM on (December 6, 2009, 15:29 GMT)

Great achievment for the team. As pointed out this was possible only due to continuous improvement in the team. Througout the decade the team had a great batting middle order but the opening slot and pace bowling were the two areas lacking consistency. With Sehwag Gambhir at the top (and replecement like Murali) and Zaheer, Ishant, Sreeshant in the reckoning those holes are pretty much filled. Fielding is still not that great, but if batting and bowling remains of the highest standard then that can be masked by some extent. This batting line up is not just India's best ever but as good as any batting line up in the history of cricket. The current test team looks completely settled (not so the teams of the shorter versions). Now, if only BCCI arranges more test matches, the team will be able maintain their no1 spot.

Posted by Dilipkm001 on (December 6, 2009, 15:04 GMT)

Whenever India lost in the past blame was on BCCI & selectors. We call them useless, sometime "bunch of jokers". Any credit to them for this achievement??

Posted by CricketPissek on (December 6, 2009, 14:51 GMT)

popcorn's comment is a bit out of place. sounds like sour grapes to me. and fyi, i'm sri lankan :) india completely outplayed us. the review system wouldv made a big difference no doubt, but that wud b jus making excuses! enjoy your #1 rank, who knows how long it will last!

Posted by henchart on (December 6, 2009, 14:27 GMT)

The reign at the top for India may be short lived thanks to the scheduling of Tests by BCCI but the big three viz Australia ,India and SA are going to be the teams to watch out for in the coming two or three seasons.Pak and Eng would be snapping at the heels of the big three. I recall Indiansbeing mauled in Australia in 1999-2000 which was followed by a drubbing at the hands of Cronje led SA.Match fixing scandal broke out and Ganguly took over.He moulded the side into a competitive and confident unit.Bhajji,Zaheer and Yuvraj owe their ascendency to Ganguly.Ganguly was a good batsman but a better captain.Tendulkar is great batsman but was an average captain and to be fair to him ,took sides to Aus and SA who were at their fiercest.Indians must cut downon T20-IPL jamboree and play serious test cricket which, though ,appears unlikely.While we salute MSD let us spare a thought for Ganguly also.Three cheers to India.

Posted by IndianDynamos on (December 6, 2009, 14:25 GMT)

It is a great achievement by India by reaching the summit. Congrats for the team for that. But let us not brood too much over their success. Winning away from home matters. Winning in Australia and in South Africa in cruel pitches for batsmen matters most. With the current Indian team and with the experience they have in the batting department,I seriously feel that India can challenge the best even in a deadly pitch. Our team batting is splendid. The bowling barring Zac, no one is consistent. Bajji is good in Indian pitches but not great away.Sreesanth,Ishant are good at TIMES. Only if India win away from home CONSISTENTLY,they can be called as the best team. You can very well beat the best teams in home and climb up the ladder in the ranking. Best teams are the teams that win away from home consistently. But for that to happen India has to play a lot of TEST matches.Enough of Twenty20 and oneday events, boost TEST cricket.

Posted by Percy_Fender on (December 6, 2009, 14:10 GMT)

The rise to being the top test team in terms of the rankings pf the ICC has come about not undeservedly. The ignominous tour Down Under nearly a decade ago which the author talks about came when Sachin Tendulkar was captain and India was a fairly good team with the likes of Dravid Ganguly Laxman,Srinath, Prasad and Kumble in the team apart from Sachin himself. If I recall right, Kapil was the coach. Yet we lost badly. When I think back, we had everything but perhaps the experience and the luck which Dhoni has been having as captain. Dravid, was on his first tour to Australia and failed. Laxman except for that brilliant innings at Sydney did not do much.In 2004 all these players had matured as very good players added to which there was Ganguly's luck and inspirational leadership. So when I read the usual cyncism about India's rise to the No 1 position, I feel that this team will hold its own for a while because there is a new realisation of the need for planning in selection.

Posted by dp.01 on (December 6, 2009, 13:55 GMT)

congrats team india for #1. one thing that i am bit disappointed with media and fans and others is that attention that is given to mainly ganbhir and sachin in beginning of the series and later Viru, Sree, and Zaheer. no one has bothered to mention about the domination of Mr Wall in this series. he has been underrated in this series and will be in history of cricket in india despite of consistent domination. lets not forget that Mr. Wall made 2 cent and 1 half. indian top order failed in first test, it was dravid who dominated. but that is how it works i guess. he is always going to be underrated no matter what.

Posted by cool_spectator on (December 6, 2009, 13:34 GMT)


Your comment doesn't make sense. Australia lost to India, in Aus against SA, then in England. SA lost their home series against Aussies. How can you rate teams on such basis when they lose to one another. Gone are the days when the Aussies use to rule the world. You are going to see a turbulent period for the next few months atleast.

India surely deserve the No. 1 tag. But it matters only if they manage to stay on top for a few weeks. Lets see if they can manage to do that.

Posted by ArifAttar on (December 6, 2009, 13:28 GMT)

Any write-up on Indian Cricket since 2000 is incomplete without the mention of Irfan Pathan. And hence this article tells only part of the story.

Posted by JogeshPanda on (December 6, 2009, 13:02 GMT)

Ranking is temporary but still it is for all the Indian cricket fans who had kept faith on the longer version of the game in last decade. A lot of fields for concern in Indian Test team but today is the day calls for celebrations and congratulations who have reached the summit. Kudos to The batting line-up that can easily be said India's all time best batting. It is the longevity of Sachin, solidity of Rahul, flamboyancy of Viru, artisty of VVS, of late but hugely consistency of Gambhir. You can't ignore Dada's role, he started a team, asked viru to open and tasted victory abroad. Rahul's captaincy was short but two series win in Carribean and England is huge, Jumbo's Perth victory, and finally MSD run at last 10 match is great. Bowling Anil was instrumental throught out the journey, had some patches by bhajji, Zaheer, shree, RP,even agarkar had a day out. We have lots to think about, replacing greats is not easy, finding a potent bowling attack and as always fielding statndards.

Posted by re-action on (December 6, 2009, 12:46 GMT)

Still cant beat Aus or RSA at home or even beat SA on its on soil.

Posted by maverick58 on (December 6, 2009, 12:23 GMT)

For me, listening and then watching the commentary on radio and TV, the thirst was long and interrupted by swallowing bitter, coarse grains of the sands of time. Today, this moment, however short-lived it may be, leaves me over-whelmed with a rainbow-quiver full of emotions.

Go and rule the arena, guys!

Posted by sudzz71 on (December 6, 2009, 12:16 GMT)

Amid this euphoria of a great victory whats being forgotten is that ; at the altar of money BCCI has forsaken test cricket, its a travesty that India if at all might play 2 and bit test matches 10 months hence.

For us to improve our skills and really be a good side we need to play more tests but BCCI in its infinite wisdom would have our boys play more ODI's, T20's and probably even more IPL and then lament about lack of talent and temperament a couple of years down the line.

Imagine this, after W'Cup 2011, Tendulkar, Dravid, possibly Laxman would have retired, Zaheer would be nearing his sell by date and we would be left with a bunch that has not played test matches in almost two years and if we expect them to win from there it would take a miracle to make it happen...

Posted by Seers on (December 6, 2009, 12:06 GMT)

Great, balanced article Dileep. Well done India. You deserve the number one position right now. As an Australian fan, the number one achievement for us in the future will be to try and beat India in India.

Posted by muski on (December 6, 2009, 11:49 GMT)

As a cricket fan who has been religiously following cricket from the time Kim Hughes Australians arrived in India during the late Seventies, I should say from the bottom of my heart that there is only one chink in the armour of this test team- killer instinct. We are not talking of facial expression which is not found wanting in Ojha or Sreesanth or Zaheer. To remain perched at the top for a longer period of time like the Windies under Lloyd did or the Australians did in the Border- Steve Waugh Era, BCCI could do well to utilities the services of experts who could teach a thing or two to the youngsters in the team about the never say die approach. This is the right time to slowly include a guy like Vijay at the expense of VVS. The toughest of decisions are taken at the easiest of times - Australians have proved it time and again. By the time Sachin and Dravid hang up their boots in couple of years, we should have by then youngsters like Abhinav Mukund or Rohit Sharma ready to get in

Posted by aruntheselector on (December 6, 2009, 11:48 GMT)

Gr8 Job Team India...A gr8 achievement and kudos to the golden generation Indian cricketers who started it all. That innings of 281 by VVS should be considered as the start of the journey and many ppl have put in a lot for seeing the team in this position. This is just the begining for India as a top team.

Posted by Thomas_George on (December 6, 2009, 11:41 GMT)

Indian players not being concerned about rankings is not a good attitude. They should be concerned about rankings, and must try to be the best at all times.

Indian selectors would do well to build bench strength. It is important that we get younger players to play all formats of the game. There should be three players for each position, and everyone must be given opportunities. The rotation policy will (1) give international exposure to young players, (2) reduce work load on the best players keeping them fresh and injury-free, (3) reduce dependence on any player helping the team to overcome injuries to key players in a major tournament.

Posted by afridi102 on (December 6, 2009, 11:37 GMT)

Very good achievment by indian team, congrats to them, but i will be reluctant to call them the best test team... not because i have something agaisnt them, they are very but india lost their last overseas series in pakistan, australia, south africa and sri lanka... I think there is no clear number 1 in the world today...home succes should not be considered so high, just look the sri ankan were number two just because of home success...

Posted by trinswana09 on (December 6, 2009, 11:24 GMT)

Congratulations India, kudos on reaching No.1 test status.While this is commendable however, to those of us outside of the subcontinent, you are still viewed as backyard bullies, scoring hundreds at will at home but being average abroad.It will take some doing to change this perception.While you can boast of some really top class batsmen in your team, were you to tour australia, england or south africa, a few of your team would be severely shown up.No two ways about it, only tendulkar and dravid, of the batsmen are really world class.A lara or a ponting will EAT harbhajan and ojha or mishra , and the rest of your attack, and yuvraj and dhoni are more suited to ODI and T20.Sehwag and gambhir are good, but not that good, they would perish against steyn in SA or Johnson at the Gabba, or even Broad at lords.Out of a country of one billion+, i have to say its taken some time to reach the summit of world cricket, but what has brought you here will not sustain you here.

Posted by pchats_2000 on (December 6, 2009, 11:13 GMT)

Thanx, a well wriiten article. Also spare thought for Ajit Agarkar, the much ridiculed Bombay Duck of the 99-2000 series to his heroics at Adelaide, for Deep Dasgupta, and his Guts in SA, for Dinesh Karthick, more for his batting and last but not the least for Jav Srinath, the man who led the attack at the beginning of this decade along with his state mate AK. I may have missed out a few but all of them deserve a mention in this article for they too contributed as they saw India and world cricket through the 'Match-Fixing' nadir as well

Posted by Venkatb on (December 6, 2009, 11:12 GMT)

While this ranking is commendable, let us be pragmatic in realising that other teams have held this ranking with far less hoopla. During Tendulkar's 20 year regime and other "greats" thrown in, we have only now reached this summit. We need to show the same consistency in tournaments, whether it be the World Cup or T20 WC where we did not make it to the latter rounds.

Further, let us understand that for all the mega scores we have been scoring, we have also been giving away mega scores, viz., SL 760-7 dec, 952-6 dec, etc. What we still do not have is an effective bowling attack, with not a single bowler in the sub-30 avg.(RPW) category - we need 1 less batsman in the line-up and an additional bowler. Further, our players still lack the ability to hold-on in crunch situations and the middle-order is still brittle outside India. This ranking will go away as fast as it came so let us not start awarding Bharat Ratnas and free plots of land

Posted by Sumeet.Gupta on (December 6, 2009, 11:07 GMT)

yes...the more difficult thing is to sustain the no. 1 ranking. i dont believe that india are playing enough test matches till next WC to actually retain the ranking. anybody from BCCI listening? Also, a word of caution for my fellow jubilant Indian fans. SL got many rough decisions. However, they are not cribbing like we normally do. So there's a lesson in this series for everyone. what goes around...does come around. With the historic day today, let's try and do an image-building and try to be more rational without losing our passion for the game. Cheers!

Posted by IPL_is_not_Cricket on (December 6, 2009, 11:04 GMT)

I completely admire Team India for this performance in White clothes. Team India can never be No. 1 in Test Ranking as BCCI and Indian Cricketers are more inclined towards IPL, T20s and ODIs. I just wonder how its possible to life Test Standards?

Posted by rbha7 on (December 6, 2009, 10:54 GMT)

Tremendous achievement by India. Largely built on a bowling attack that can finally get 20 wickets on flat Indian wickets.

I'm a bit confused though and I hope others can help me. People are talking about India only playing tests against Bangladesh and New Zealand next year. But the FTP schedule I find on this website shows South Africa touring in Feb 2010. What happened to that? Has that been cancelled?

I note that the previous SA tour in Mar 08 is on the schedule as 'Additional'. Does it have something to do with that?

Posted by Gopes_On_Dopes on (December 6, 2009, 10:34 GMT)

Great article Dileep. It well and truly captures the journey India's taken en route to the latest summit. In addition to the series losses in Australia and then to SA at home, another low at that time was the match fixing scandal. We'd gone so low we could only go one direction and thats up. We've gone up and how!! Now we need to take the next step and be consistently ruthless. We need to win more series like this and against top sides like this SL side. Here's wishing India best of luck!!

Posted by TopInTwenty20 on (December 6, 2009, 10:31 GMT)

I think this is one milestone Ganguly's team India deserves more than Dhoni's team India. Saurav Ganguly has been the captain of India who teached Indian team to win test matches and series abroad. The legendary batsmans like Sachin,Rahul,VVS and bowlers like Zaheer,Kumble were the campanions with Saurav in this journey. Rahul Dravid has been the most important batsman all the overseas wins. He is unsung hero of Indian cricket.

Posted by popcorn on (December 6, 2009, 10:30 GMT)

Have India EVER won a series IN Australia? Have India EVER won a series beaten IN South Africa? No? Then Indiia CANNOT be called No.1 Test country in the world. Only Australia has beaten every Country - both home AND Away.They are the true No.1 Test playing country in the world. Until any other country achieves this status,the No.Status remains with Australia.

Posted by rlefti on (December 6, 2009, 10:24 GMT)

Well done team India and enjoy the success but dont forget the man who made all this possible and dream and built that team India and started it all the father of this team Sourav and also the soldier who fought on every ocassion India is not number 1 beacause of last 18 months because the way this team performed in the last decade from when sourav took over and built a dhoni enjoying the fruits of foundations laid by sourav...thanks team India and sourav for this moment...

Posted by PrameshP on (December 6, 2009, 10:15 GMT)

Yes Indians became no 1 Test Team in the world. Hopefully they will win series in Australia & South Africa in the presence of Tendulkar. Af that will happen than they will really number 1 team in world.

Posted by Arijit on (December 6, 2009, 10:14 GMT)

To your list of forgotten heroes, add Ajit Agarkar's performance at Adelaide, Wasim Jaffar's double ton in the WI in the second innings, and there are so many more. Congrats to India on the No. 1 ranking, but as Dhoni rightly said, the real journey begins now.

Posted by sray23 on (December 6, 2009, 10:09 GMT)

Indeed the results of the recent past culminating in today's No. 1 ranking has been a long time coming and is something to savour. However thanks greatly to the scheduling efforts of the BCCI it is likely to last all of 2 months. After B'desh India are not likely to play a Test before end of 2010 (a well-documented fact) and hence are almost certainly to be overtaken by Aus or SA in the next couple of months. Kudos BCCI you have yet again shown little foresight and thought in your operations and undermined the game....great work!

Posted by Alexk400 on (December 6, 2009, 10:04 GMT)


Even though media want to praise murali vijay , we really have not seen much of him. When you play with sehwag , opposition do not plan for you too much. He will be tested against SA. I think i like another guy from Tamilnadu ..his name is also karthik. NOT dk. He is better than murali vijay for me. Murali vijay is not bad at all. But you have to see , it was flat wicket and SLA fast bowlers sucked. It is not true test. But he has the temperament , he would have scored century except the hiccup and try to be sehwag cost him century.

Bombay used to produce great batsman , i think tamilnadu has better batsman now.

Indian media over praise people. Almost they have this on / off switch...on - make them GOD , off - throw them to garbage. Why not medium level. Dhoni is great captain but he also need to understand he need players who does what he needs to make india win. Half fit sehwag would have won 20/20.

Posted by Alexk400 on (December 6, 2009, 9:58 GMT)

I used to think you are good. But not so. Dravid had almost same team , he lost to SA for 2-1. What a blunder. And kumble screwed up india should have won 2-1 in Australia. Rahul dravid is greatest Indian Test batsman , 100 times better than sachin. But rahul dravid by the book captaincy cost india SA test series and kumble is not pro active and kinda lost aussie series. Even though if bucknor didn't screw up india should have won that series. I still think we beat aussies.

There is only two people in Indian Team that made this possible. Sehwag (X factor) and Dhoni (greatest indian captain ever!). But dhoni need to understand without sehwag he can't win. Not even try to piss off sehwag. Ganguly won so many games because of dravid. Dhoni needs go to man in Test , That is sehwag. In Odi dhoni's go to man is yuvaraj.

I think murali vijay should replace yuvi in Tests. He has good temperament based on what i saw. We need dravid replacement in future.

Posted by lynds on (December 6, 2009, 9:53 GMT)

MS Dhoni is selling his team a bit short. If Steve Bucknor had been wearing a hearing aid, India would most likely have won the Sydney Test in 2007-08, and the series. They then drew against SA in India, beat both Australia and England in India, then defeated NZ in NZ. If India want to be number one in all formats of the game, they have to fix their fielding and become as ruthless as Australian sides have been. Although hopefully they won't be as unpleasant.

Posted by PREMSI on (December 6, 2009, 9:40 GMT)

very good article.Now it's BCCI's turn to make sure that india play enough test cricket to strenghten their position at number one for long took long time and big effort from every body who payed test cricket for india for last few years.undoubtedly this is the best ever time for indian test cricket.the journey was hard and faboulous with tremendous improvementin all part of the game.there is no other team in world cricket has shown improvement like india for last few years.cheers to everybody who is part of this great achievement.Hoping BCCI will give more importance for test cricket for the coming years.

Posted by anush222 on (December 6, 2009, 9:36 GMT)

A balanced and very nicely written! "With a little more luck on the final day at the SCG, they could even have won. " -- oh yea! You bet..

Posted by SamRoy on (December 6, 2009, 9:33 GMT)

Well said Dilip. It's truly been a decade long journey and not 18 month or 2 year old as mentioned by the 'so called experts' on live television today. I still remember the agony of '96 SA series where India scored 100 odd and 60 odd in the first test and couldn't win the final test from a winning position. Also the '97 series in WI where we couldn't score 120 to win the match, the test in '98 in Zimbabwe where we couldn't score 250 odd and the 3-0 whitewash at the turn of the millenium down under. I think Sourav Ganguly deserves a lot of credit for instilling belief in the team that it had the ability to win consistently overseas. We had the ability but lacked belief. Once that was done around 2001-02, India have come a long way as a test team. (albeit not without hiccups like 2002 series in WI, 06 in Pakistan, 06-7 in SA, 07-8 down under and last year in Sri Lanka). It has been a rough but pleasant journey.

Posted by Ozcricketwriter on (December 6, 2009, 9:32 GMT)

Well done to India being officially world number 1 in tests. It seems odd that they had to beat Sri Lanka in order to pass South Africa, who in turn got to number 1 in a match that they didn't participate in when Australia lost to England. It would feel better if you got to number 1 in the old fashioned way, by beating the reigning number 1 home and away. Still no team has beaten Australia home and away so until India or some other team does that, then there is currently no clear-cut number 1 test team. Currently probably Australia, South Africa, India and Sri Lanka realistically share the mantle. Just the same, it is good that India get their moment in the sun. Their first time ever officially being regarded as number 1 in tests. Hopefully for their sakes it lasts a little while. It is all credit for the most populous cricketing nation and the nation which loves cricket the most. Perhaps right now it isn't 100% clear-cut, as it is still somewhat in dispute but one day it will

Posted by Shrini on (December 6, 2009, 9:30 GMT)

I guess India as a team was never short of individual brilliance. There were the Sachins, the Kapils, the Sunnys etc. However the team never came together as a whole, which is why results were always below par. I guess the team has certainly undergone a metamorphosis in that respect, in the last decade. The youngsters have started standing up. And i think the credit for that goes to sourav ganguly.

Posted by vinchester on (December 6, 2009, 9:25 GMT)

Yes, we are numero uno today. congrats to all for the achievement. but note it is in our backyard. how long we stay there is the million dollar question. If S. A beats England, & win/ draw the series with India , they will be no. 1. the point is we nowhere near the impact West Indies made in the 80sor the australians later. The other point is how full is our cupboard with future talent. If u dont nurture that, u will lose your present status very soon; ie if there is anything in the cupboard at all.

Posted by SachinIsTheGreatest on (December 6, 2009, 9:23 GMT)

Very good analysis of the current No.1 status. All said and done following series wins in England, New Zealand and West Indies, India would need to win a series in South Africa or Australia. However, starting with the Zimbabwe series in 2001 India's overseas performances have undergone a tremendous improvement and with good new-ball pairings both South Africa and Australia might not be as unconquerable as they once were.

Posted by vibh_ch on (December 6, 2009, 9:22 GMT)

Very well said,Mr.Dileep.What our media and people do need to realise is that this is all a process and it will take us further.We have taken our time to evolve as a cricketing nation and still there are challenges ahead.Not having great fast bowlers for long and many of our batsmen`s ineptness at playing fast bowling along with dirty politics of regional bias and lack of farsightedness of our selectors and their inconsistency have made us remain way behind even Pakistan who used to win at least a test match on an away series right from their beginning.We need to have dominating batsmen,bowlers,very good fielding to be champions like Australia have been almost right from the time the game was played.I have been following your columns on our youngsters where you seem to have faith on the likes of Virat,M Pandey,Pujara,Rohit and others.I appreciate your judgement.For no mistake of theirs,the youngsters have been targetted for earning big money.We need to have patience as with our greats.

Posted by manasvi.lingam on (December 6, 2009, 9:21 GMT)

Very well written article Dileep. India performed extremely well in Oz during the 2003 tour of Australia and even during the last tour, they did very well in Perth and in Sydney. However, beating the Proteas in their own den, that's the last achievement missing. Only when they beat Aus in Aus and SA in SA can they be deemed to be worthy of the No.1 or No.2 position in the world.

Posted by macwalker on (December 6, 2009, 9:20 GMT)

Great victory, one that soothes the wounds of the 1996 world cup semi final and the 1997 test match in Premadasa stadium where SRL made more than 900 runs and batted for almost 300 overs. It has taken more than 13 years to finally give it back to SRL. India has always been a better team than SRL, they never understood it. Feel sorry for SRL only for Jeyawardane. Lucky for him he was not the captain of this team. Sanga needs to learn a lot from him, first and foremost not to talk too much. Would have felt bad for SRL if it was Jeya captaining them especially because of the bad decisions inflicted upon Dilshan. He is another promising and entertaining batsman to look out for in the next few years. Dont get me wrong, SRL is a very good team but they need great captains to take them thru (just like every other team). India finally found MSD (Azhar and Ganguly were stepping stones). No series victory is satisfactory without a blemish and the UDRS can be called upon here to fulfill that.

Posted by Sidhanta-Patnaik on (December 6, 2009, 9:16 GMT)

JY Lele episode,Hansie Cronje's win in India, match fixing scandal, Ganguly's captaincy, Turbanator-Very Very Special Frontier series, Win in West Indies, Bangar in Sachin-Rahul-Sourav heroics in England,Kumble's return in Australia, Demolishing Pakistan, Series win in West Indies, England, Newzeland and now Srilanka. Indian Cricket has undergone a transition that it needed.

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Dileep PremachandranClose
Dileep Premachandran Associate editor Dileep Premachandran gave up the joys of studying thermodynamics and strength of materials with a view to following in the footsteps of his literary heroes. Instead, he wound up at the Free Press Journal in Mumbai, writing on sport and politics before Gentleman gave him a column called Replay. A move to followed, where he teamed up with Sambit Bal, and he arrived at ESPNCricinfo after having also worked for Cricket Talk and Sunil Gavaskar and Greg Chappell were his early cricketing heroes, though attempts to emulate their silken touch had hideous results. He considers himself obscenely fortunate to have watched live the two greatest comebacks in sporting history - India against invincible Australia at the Eden Gardens in 2001, and Liverpool's inc-RED-ible resurrection in the 2005 Champions' League final. He lives in Bangalore with his wife, who remains astonishingly tolerant of his sporting obsessions.
Tour Results
India v Sri Lanka at Delhi - Dec 27, 2009
No result
India v Sri Lanka at Kolkata - Dec 24, 2009
India won by 7 wickets (with 11 balls remaining)
India v Sri Lanka at Cuttack - Dec 21, 2009
India won by 7 wickets (with 45 balls remaining)
India v Sri Lanka at Nagpur - Dec 18, 2009
Sri Lanka won by 3 wickets (with 5 balls remaining)
India v Sri Lanka at Rajkot - Dec 15, 2009
India won by 3 runs
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