World Twenty20 triumph offers a blueprint for success

A brave new India

With proper planning, India can ensure that the momentum gained by winning the World Twenty20 takes them a long way

S Rajesh in Johannesburg

September 25, 2007

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With proper planning, India can ensure that the momentum gained by winning the World Twenty20 takes them a long way. © Getty Images
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From no-hopers to world champions - all it took was two weeks for India to traverse the journey. A new captain, a young team, and lack of experience in this format were all touted as reasons why India could not win, but these were weaknesses only on paper; out on the field, each of these turned out to be strengths: Mahendra Singh Dhoni was vibrant and positive in the field, backing his hunches at key moments; the young team added oodles of energy to fielding, while the lack of experience in playing this game freed them of excess baggage and allowed them to learn quickly and formulate customised strategies which they believed would work for them: a prime example was the decision to bat first, even as most experts suggested chasing was the way to go.

Even more than the actual results perhaps, what was so refreshingly different was the manner in which they played the game. There was a fearlessness to their approach which can only come from self-belief; there were clear signs that they were enjoying the game and each other's successes.

That the team was missing at least four first-choice players - the three batting superstars and Zaheer Khan - makes this triumph all the more remarkable. The team has come in for high praise from every quarter, and deserves every bit of it. The question is: what next? Will this remain an isolated, one-off tournament success triggered by a series of inspirational performances, or will it actually cue off a long-term and sustained level of excellence for the team. The cynical view is to go with the former, but given some of the ingredients in the mix, this is an excellent opportunity to take this as the launching pad for something big.

For inspiration, the Indians only need to look back at the World Cup-winning Australian side from 1987. Few gave Allan Border and his team any chance either, but that tournament allowed him to identify a few players who would form the core of the Australian side for the next decade. It also put in place a culture of high performance, where the benchmarks were so difficult, and yet attained so regularly, that excellence became a habit which was then passed on from generation to generation.

With the Indians, that has seldom been the case. Sourav Ganguly's team had an outstanding run between 2002 and 2004, but suddenly it collapsed after the win in Pakistan - with several players losing form or getting overconfident - and several gains from that period were lost.

This time, it needs to be different. With the average age of the squad just 25 - and eight who are less than 24 - it's just the opportune moment to plan a line of succession so that, when the batting superstars aren't around, the transition isn't unnecessarily painful.

One player who now needs to be given as much international exposure as possible is Rohit Sharma. His game is grounded on a good technique, and yet he can shift from defensive to attack in a trice. Add his unflappable temperament, and he looks like a player who can successfully play all types of international matches. He deserves further international exposure during the home season, so that he leads the accession to the batting spots that will, sooner or later - be vacated by Sachin Tendulkar, Sourav Ganguly and Rahul Dravid.

Gautam Gambhir has been a fringe player for a while now, but here he elevated himself to the role of a senior batsman, playing responsibly without losing his flair. Moreover, both Rohit and Gambhir are good in the field - a prerequisite in the modern game.

Irfan Pathan's glorious comeback makes the allrounder's spot a viable option once again, while RP Singh and Sreesanth fill up the fast bowlers' slots well. Add some of the others who have been on the fringes but couldn't make it to this squad, and it's clear that there's a healthy competition for places in the XI, which can only be a good thing. It's probably time to look beyond Ajit Agarkar now, and the excuse can no longer be that the replacements aren't available.

In every sport, consistency is the key - by winning the World Twenty20, the Indians haven't become the best team in the world. Australia still occupy that mantle, and rightly so. What the Indians have shown, though, is that they have the skill and the hunger to mix it with the best. The challenge now is to maintain that hunger and drive season after season. India have got the momentum going their way with this superb title triumph. With proper planning, they can ensure that this momentum takes them a long way.

S Rajesh is stats editor of Cricinfo

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Posted by Chirag_Mehra on (September 29, 2007, 21:04 GMT)

Many congratulations to Team India, We all hope that, they will be doing this on regular basis, but one thing i want to tell all you guys that why we have Ajit Agarkar out of the team, the series just gone by wasn't very good for him but nobody in this world can deny that he still is the strike bowler for india, he still has got much cricket left in him and he'll prove himself again, everyone(sre, rp ,pathan, munaf, zaheer) is good but no one of the caliber of ajit.. Media hasn't been doing justice with him till now, perhaps he deserves a lot more that such low level critisicm, he has served the country a lot and he has worked upon his game even harder and don't forget he is the fittest player around.. Even if we can't praise him we must not utter any rubbish for one of the finest and most humble servent of the country......

Posted by kirangurujane on (September 26, 2007, 17:18 GMT)

You have hit the nail on the head. It all started from the series in England. India had a bit of luck to evade the initial setback in the first test. Then India cameback strongly to win the second test. India had a chance to make it 2-0 but I feel Dravid was too concerned about making history by winning it 1-0 and didnt really go full throttle for a 2-0. India was down 3-1 in the ODI series but fought extremely hard to come back and loose the series 4-3. During this period the young India was learning from her mistakes and none of them were repeated in ICC T20 world cup. India outbatted/outfielded/outbowled all the teams we faced in the last 4 matches. Most importantly MS Dhoni "outcaptained" all his couterparts. Many thought that India will fall short of experience of some big names but Dhonis crew was out there with a mission to prove everyone wrong. India will have to use this momentum and inject this positivity to other more challenging forms of cricket

Posted by gvk2710 on (September 26, 2007, 14:16 GMT)

The senior trio have done a lot for Indian Cricket. No one can question their self-less commitment to Cricket and the country. Having seen the high performance of these youngsters, I am sure that, on their own, they will stand down from the forthcoming series rather than deny three young batsmen their opportunity to play and improve

Posted by satyasainvs on (September 26, 2007, 13:57 GMT)

cheers Team India for Grand success.. Definitely the spirit of Team India went up very high at this moment, really we seen great Aggression each individual players eyes to beat any country in the world.. they never loose their temperment, keep up the cool phase at all the time during 20-20.. But only now BCCI and selectors has to take bold decision to choose young and energetic indian team for upcoming series.. now they should believe that Team India need young blood rather than experience for getting success.. request them not to keep these players for the reserve bench.. otherwise they may loose their rythm.. hoping that upcoming Australian series prove that 20-20 never come fluke and Luck.. All the Best Team India..

Posted by judson_jd on (September 26, 2007, 13:19 GMT)

Do not take the name of Agarkar in vain.... It's silly to say that it's time to look beyond Agarkar now... Mark my words, Irfan and Sreesanth will again go back to their original form and India would have no other option but return to the services of Agarkar. By this article, you have degraged Agarkar to a large extent. He had 2 bad overs in 20-20 and had 6 very good overs.. No one will ever talk about that. Mark my words, He'll return and return strongly.

Posted by PatsFan on (September 26, 2007, 12:49 GMT)

Congrats to India on this remarkable triumph. I hope the board does some long term planning and begins to groom players for the future to replace the Fab Four when they do retire. I also see that Badrinath is getting a raw deal from the board and media since his name never comes in discussions. He has been scoring runs at every given stage and yet he is not in the reckoning for a spot in the team!!

Posted by amit2007 on (September 26, 2007, 12:07 GMT)

I totally agree with author, More chances needs to give the youngster like R sharma, Manoj tiwari and Suresh Raina. These three are here to replace the biggies of cricket. On the Australia tour, i think they should be pick in the team.

Posted by Azfar on (September 26, 2007, 11:56 GMT)

This team is like a breath of fresh air to Indian Cricket.Their performance in T20 has been stunning to say the least.But Australia still remains the best team in the World.Dhoni's leadership has been a revelation. I see shades of Imran Khan in his leadership.Hope he can keep his head and take India to greater heights. The way Sharad Pawar and other BCCI officials are trying to take the credit and the limelight away from the players is absolutely disgusting. The truth is that India won the T20 WC in spite of BCCI's lackadaisical approach to this form of the game. BCCI threatened not to participate in this WC and later on sent a team which was obviously not the first choice one. It is another matter that this young brigade has won us the prize the 'Holy Trinity' never could.Now the BCCI officials are jumping over each other trying to take the credit for this triumph. When will Indian Cricket get rid of people like Niranjan Shah, Sharad Pawar and company.

Posted by rejikorah on (September 26, 2007, 11:50 GMT)

Brave new India? Some guys don't think so. One Indian thinks we just opened up a long lost cricket entertainment industry - this time full circle. Million dollar deals, TV Ratings.. the whole nine yards. Read this: http://digg.com/other_sports/T20_ICCI_Cricket_Champions_Why_India_made_it

Posted by kunuko on (September 26, 2007, 11:15 GMT)

I agree that the youngsters did a marvellous job but I still think Joginder Sharma would defintely not find a place in any team atleast for his bowling. Inspite of his supposedly good bowling in the last over in the semis and the finals, where all he had to do was bowl a stump to stump line as the pressure was on the opposition in both matches. Cant say much about his batting as not many of us have seen any. For all we know, he might just go JP Yadav's way. And definitely, the newer youngsters can only improve in the guidance of the BIG 3. Uthappa needs to learn being patient as time and again he has squandered away a well begun innings. And Rohit Sharma's career can only go upwards by playing in the company of the BIG 3 atleast until they are playing. I dont see much reason for the seniors to just retire until they are playing well. Sachin-Sourav opening the one dayers in England brought back old memories. RESTING the seniors in inconsequential/early matches in a series is an option.

Can India keep up the winning momentum post-World Twenty20?
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S Rajesh Stats editor Every week the Numbers Game takes a look at the story behind the stats, with an original slant on facts and figures. The column is edited by S Rajesh, ESPNcricinfo's stats editor in Bangalore. He did an MBA in marketing, and then worked for a year in advertising, before deciding to chuck it in favour of a job which would combine the pleasures of watching cricket and writing about it. The intense office cricket matches were an added bonus.
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Series/Tournaments: ICC World Twenty20
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