December 11, 2009

India must celebrate and move on

It's more difficult to stay at the top than to get there
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India have not set foot on the summit by stepping off a helicopter; they have got there after establishing several base camps and making steady, sometimes hazardous, progress. India's ascent is not a point, it is currently a curve; it is not a moment in time but part of a phase. Any attempt to think otherwise would be unfair and shortsighted.

And so while India must celebrate, it must be with a sense of history. This lot of players has put the ribbon on the box, but the cake was baked by many; they have scored a goal but you usually cannot do so unless someone has passed the ball to you. And that is why the only aspect of this moment that disturbs me is the cash award to this team. I am not a huge fan of cash awards to professional players - they are presumably paid to win anyway - but the announcement of this particular one ignores the fact that various others set it up over the last five years.

In particular, India have been served by three very fine captains before the hugely impressive current incumbent. Very few good teams win with inadequate leaders anyway. Under Sourav Ganguly, India realised that winning overseas was an option, and India have much for which to thank a player the world found very convenient to misunderstand. Rahul Dravid was the perfect captain to follow, with his strong commitment to the team and to the cause. It is easily forgotten that under him India won in the West Indies for the first time in 35 years and in England for the first time in 21. And Anil Kumble was the leader at a decisive moment in Indian cricket: in Australia in 2008, where the Test win in Perth must rank on par with the win at Kolkata in 2001 for significance.

Don't forget, too, that Mahendra Singh Dhoni's current record reads: played 10, won seven, lost zero. Included in that is a series win against Australia, an away win in New Zealand, and now one against Sri Lanka. There are no freebies there. Something is right in Indian cricket.

Indeed, India's current position is good for world cricket, as indeed South Africa's little reign at the top was. Three teams competing for No. 1 is always better for the sport than a giant blocking everyone's path.

I am a little concerned at the state of denial in some parts of the world, with the continued devaluation of India winning in India. This is not accompanied by a similar attitude to Australia winning at home, or for that matter South Africa or England doing so

But I am a little concerned at the state of denial in some parts of the world, with the continued devaluation of India winning in India. This is not accompanied by a similar attitude to Australia winning at home, or for that matter South Africa or England doing so. India's winning streak has not been due to financial jugglery, which is a convenient myth in itself, but due to good cricket. To assign other reasons - and what a pity that is being attempted - is to undermine players of extraordinary pedigree.

And these are not just batsmen. True, Sehwag, Gambhir, Dravid, Tendulkar, Laxman, Ganguly, Yuvraj, Dhoni (even Jaffer and Karthik at key moments) are extraordinary players, and they have set up many victories, but to focus on them would be unfair to those that take 20 wickets. Against England, home and away, Zaheer Khan was the Player of the Series; against Australia it was the very impressive Ishant Sharma, who will soon be leading India's attack again. Amit Mishra and Sreesanth have had their moments in the sun, and Harbhajan has taken more wickets than many of us think he has.

But as with all success, India must celebrate the moment and move on. Australia and South Africa are fine teams and Sri Lanka have just the man to drive their transition. As business leaders will tell you, it is more difficult to stay on top than to get there. India need to groom batting replacements, and there are only two on the horizon: the scarcely tested Murali Vijay and the untested Cheteshwar Pujara. Harbhajan Singh desperately needs competition to take him to another level, but more important, India will have to find a way to ensure that players of serious ability, like Rohit Sharma, Sreesanth, Ishant and RP Singh, don't lose their way. And it will call for people with vision at the top. They exist but they are in a bit of a melee at the moment with others of various hues and political colour.

Isn't it ironic, though, that for a country accused of devaluing the game, India are struggling in Twenty20 cricket but are atop the summit of the most traditional form of the game? Maybe there is a story there.

Harsha Bhogle is a commentator, television presenter and writer

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • POSTED BY rocket_boy on | December 12, 2009, 11:39 GMT

    There are many people here who say that India doesn't deserve being no.1 cause they haven't won a series in Aus and SA.they must recall that the ranking shows the current no. 1 team. that means you ought to see at maximum 3 years(the latest series counting the most) to decide a team's performance.Although Aus has a brilliant record in the last 3 or 4 years but just take a look at their current series:- 3 losses out of 5.i think it automatically makes them ineligible for the no.1 spot.While SA have just lost 1 series in the past 2 years,Ind are not too far behind losing just 2 series in the past 2 years including the controversial one in Australia they could have won. What clinches the no.1 spot for Ind is the fact that they haven't lost a single test in the past one year playing against team such as Aus,Eng and SL at home and NZ away. In the meantime SA has lost 3 matches including 2 at home. i think it is enough evidence to suggest that India is the current best as compared to others.

  • POSTED BY Alexk400 on | December 12, 2009, 11:28 GMT

    Django is right about umpiring. i forgot. We all forgot. India won because of bad umpiring. Dilshan was not out both times. No pin needle drop sound on that from indian viewers ,journalist or BCCI. SLA can't do anything about it because they get the money only BCCI decide to play them. So it is as bad as sydney in someway. India is not real number 1. Bad umpiring (3rd test) , Bad pitch (kanpur) - deliberately designed to beat South africa because india was trailing in the series.

    I accept BCCI is devious. Who are not?. Every country does this sort of thing , only indians ready to accept it is what it is. Money brings justice.

  • POSTED BY paramthegreat on | December 12, 2009, 11:02 GMT

    I am pretty sure if the current Indian team faces the current Aussie team in australia they will defeat them easily . In South Africa tho, they have always struggled more. having said that, as someone said , even Aus has only won ONE series in India , SA , I dont remember how many , but in recent times , i think they have won only one too in india. Having said that, even Eng won in SA in 2004-05 , however that aint enough to get them to #1 ranking. What I am saying is , if India won just one series in SA, Aus,would we consider them to be truly #1 then? If so, then the day is not far away, ince the aussies are on a decline. If not, then all of you guys who are arguing and sticking up for aus to be #1 team, kindly shut up.

  • POSTED BY ww113 on | December 12, 2009, 10:50 GMT

    Intcamd,give me a break.The great Australian sides of recent years cannot be compared with this Indian side.Twice,they had winning streaks of 16 test matches.There was a wide gulf separating them from the rest of the pack.They excelled in every department of the game.The bowling had stalwarts like Warne and McGrath.Their fielding was outstanding.In both these departments,this Indian side is fairly ordinary.On a good day,even the present Pakistan side (which is very weak itself) can beat this Indian side. There was one asterik against that Australian side (not winning in India),this Indian side has to win in Australia,in South Africa,in Sri Lanka.Jingoism aside,can we just have an objective analysis ?

  • POSTED BY __PK on | December 12, 2009, 10:24 GMT

    Harsha, I'm a big fan, but I think in this case YOU are the one in a state of denial, from reading your key paragraph. Australia are constantly criticised for scheduling the Gabba test first, before visiting sides become accustomed to local conditions. South Africa can't seem to win at home, lately, so who knows what the reaction would be. And when England win at home, it's way overblown by the home supporters, uncannily like we're seeing in India at the moment. Sorry, the reason people devalue Indian home victories is because of their poor overseas record. I'm sure you've spent enough time in Australia to have heard us liken the Indian cricket team as Koalas - comfortable at home, but killed on the road.

  • POSTED BY Muyeen on | December 12, 2009, 9:49 GMT

    Perfect Sir Harsha, I was actually waiting for you to say something about it..Everything is so right about Ganguly, Dravid and Kumble. They should also be awarded. and about home advantage folks dont you think this is what actually makes cricket so Interesting... Though everything is same wherever you play everything is different.. About India being #1 and australians not being to digest it well may be they expecting a team to win more than 10 matches in a row to be number 1. That wont happen again and like Harsha says its great for Test Cricket. Now if India plays SA home or away India has 50/50 chances of winning it. That itself makes India #1

  • POSTED BY Vnott on | December 12, 2009, 9:36 GMT

    Fact is that Australian performances have been inconsistent over the last 2/3 years since many of the top players have retired and the rankings have reflected that. India, SA, Australia all seem capable of both winning/losing home and away. Hence the close contest between the top 3 ( even top 5 - if we consider SL and England) and the rankings do reflect that. Indian performances in India have been good ( Except against SA which has been a bit of a struggle both home and away)& away wins against Pakistan, West Indies, England , New Zealand tell their story too. Even in Australia it was a close series marred by poor decisions and the result could have easily gone the other way. No one is claiming India is vastly superior to other teams but the top ranking is current and absolutely fair. India still need to conquer the SA conundrum ( rather than Aus) but that is a different story altogether. From when did the top spot come without summits to conquer...

  • POSTED BY Quazar on | December 12, 2009, 8:18 GMT

    FACTS FROM LAST 3 YEARS: a) India beat Eng in Eng; b) India achive 1-2 in SA; had beaten hosts at the Wanderers; c) India achieve 1-2 in Aus, beating hosts at the WACA, while Steve Bucknor beat Ind at Sydney; d) India achieve 1-2 in SL; e) India hammer Aus 2-0 at home, beat Eng 1-0 at home, thro' terrific chase; f) India win in NZ (btw, also dominating in the ODIs); g) India hammer SL 2-0 at home (Funnily, Sanga concedes they were outbatted & outbowled; later throws up a RIDICULOUS CLAIM that umpires cost them 500 runs...how did he arrive at that no.? Was Dilshan going to make 500 runs?? Why didn't he reject the 2-0 result and protest to the ICC?? And why did he and his team go to a party right after the match to join in India's celebrations??). BOTTOM LINE: India are deservedly in the Top 2 (the rankings of 1 and 2 could keep changing periodically). Some sour grapes can't handle the resurgence of Asian powers...but they will have to get used to it!

  • POSTED BY SatyajitM on | December 12, 2009, 8:01 GMT

    @Django, i had better impression about Sangakkara before the series. He behaved like a cry baby at the end of the test series. SL claim that had Dilshan not been given out at 114 in first innings he would have slammed a double ton, but interestingly Dilshan never went beyond 168 in his career (11 tons). His second innings judgement was lot more marginal (ex English spinner Robert Croft opined it was out). SL managed to lose both tests by innings and most of their batsmen didn't show the guts and persaverance when required. Sangakkara played a good innings when it was all lost. Coming to Sydney test, inspite of the wrong decisions India should have drawn the test (and hence series) but India's tail couldn't even play for 7 mins (3 tailenders) and lost it. That's a lot closer than innings defeat! But a defeat is always a defeat. The score book always shows it as a lost test and points awarded to Aus.

  • POSTED BY Quazar on | December 12, 2009, 8:00 GMT

    Clearly, some Aussies and some Springboks just can't handle the resurgence of coloured people! Hey @popcorn, AUSTRALIA'S BEST YEARS ARE IN THE PAST...THEY ARE NO LONGER NO.1...LOST 2-0 IN INDIA, LOST 2-1 IN ENGLAND, LOST 2-1 TO SA AT HOME...IN TROUBLE AGAINST THE WI...THAT IS YOUR PRESENT STATUS! Now, South Africa are MUCH BETTER THAN AUS and so the INDIA-SA BATTLES IN 2010 (1 home series and 1 away) will give us the UNAMBIGUOUS ANSWER TO WHO IS NO.1 AND WHO IS NO. 2.

  • POSTED BY rocket_boy on | December 12, 2009, 11:39 GMT

    There are many people here who say that India doesn't deserve being no.1 cause they haven't won a series in Aus and SA.they must recall that the ranking shows the current no. 1 team. that means you ought to see at maximum 3 years(the latest series counting the most) to decide a team's performance.Although Aus has a brilliant record in the last 3 or 4 years but just take a look at their current series:- 3 losses out of 5.i think it automatically makes them ineligible for the no.1 spot.While SA have just lost 1 series in the past 2 years,Ind are not too far behind losing just 2 series in the past 2 years including the controversial one in Australia they could have won. What clinches the no.1 spot for Ind is the fact that they haven't lost a single test in the past one year playing against team such as Aus,Eng and SL at home and NZ away. In the meantime SA has lost 3 matches including 2 at home. i think it is enough evidence to suggest that India is the current best as compared to others.

  • POSTED BY Alexk400 on | December 12, 2009, 11:28 GMT

    Django is right about umpiring. i forgot. We all forgot. India won because of bad umpiring. Dilshan was not out both times. No pin needle drop sound on that from indian viewers ,journalist or BCCI. SLA can't do anything about it because they get the money only BCCI decide to play them. So it is as bad as sydney in someway. India is not real number 1. Bad umpiring (3rd test) , Bad pitch (kanpur) - deliberately designed to beat South africa because india was trailing in the series.

    I accept BCCI is devious. Who are not?. Every country does this sort of thing , only indians ready to accept it is what it is. Money brings justice.

  • POSTED BY paramthegreat on | December 12, 2009, 11:02 GMT

    I am pretty sure if the current Indian team faces the current Aussie team in australia they will defeat them easily . In South Africa tho, they have always struggled more. having said that, as someone said , even Aus has only won ONE series in India , SA , I dont remember how many , but in recent times , i think they have won only one too in india. Having said that, even Eng won in SA in 2004-05 , however that aint enough to get them to #1 ranking. What I am saying is , if India won just one series in SA, Aus,would we consider them to be truly #1 then? If so, then the day is not far away, ince the aussies are on a decline. If not, then all of you guys who are arguing and sticking up for aus to be #1 team, kindly shut up.

  • POSTED BY ww113 on | December 12, 2009, 10:50 GMT

    Intcamd,give me a break.The great Australian sides of recent years cannot be compared with this Indian side.Twice,they had winning streaks of 16 test matches.There was a wide gulf separating them from the rest of the pack.They excelled in every department of the game.The bowling had stalwarts like Warne and McGrath.Their fielding was outstanding.In both these departments,this Indian side is fairly ordinary.On a good day,even the present Pakistan side (which is very weak itself) can beat this Indian side. There was one asterik against that Australian side (not winning in India),this Indian side has to win in Australia,in South Africa,in Sri Lanka.Jingoism aside,can we just have an objective analysis ?

  • POSTED BY __PK on | December 12, 2009, 10:24 GMT

    Harsha, I'm a big fan, but I think in this case YOU are the one in a state of denial, from reading your key paragraph. Australia are constantly criticised for scheduling the Gabba test first, before visiting sides become accustomed to local conditions. South Africa can't seem to win at home, lately, so who knows what the reaction would be. And when England win at home, it's way overblown by the home supporters, uncannily like we're seeing in India at the moment. Sorry, the reason people devalue Indian home victories is because of their poor overseas record. I'm sure you've spent enough time in Australia to have heard us liken the Indian cricket team as Koalas - comfortable at home, but killed on the road.

  • POSTED BY Muyeen on | December 12, 2009, 9:49 GMT

    Perfect Sir Harsha, I was actually waiting for you to say something about it..Everything is so right about Ganguly, Dravid and Kumble. They should also be awarded. and about home advantage folks dont you think this is what actually makes cricket so Interesting... Though everything is same wherever you play everything is different.. About India being #1 and australians not being to digest it well may be they expecting a team to win more than 10 matches in a row to be number 1. That wont happen again and like Harsha says its great for Test Cricket. Now if India plays SA home or away India has 50/50 chances of winning it. That itself makes India #1

  • POSTED BY Vnott on | December 12, 2009, 9:36 GMT

    Fact is that Australian performances have been inconsistent over the last 2/3 years since many of the top players have retired and the rankings have reflected that. India, SA, Australia all seem capable of both winning/losing home and away. Hence the close contest between the top 3 ( even top 5 - if we consider SL and England) and the rankings do reflect that. Indian performances in India have been good ( Except against SA which has been a bit of a struggle both home and away)& away wins against Pakistan, West Indies, England , New Zealand tell their story too. Even in Australia it was a close series marred by poor decisions and the result could have easily gone the other way. No one is claiming India is vastly superior to other teams but the top ranking is current and absolutely fair. India still need to conquer the SA conundrum ( rather than Aus) but that is a different story altogether. From when did the top spot come without summits to conquer...

  • POSTED BY Quazar on | December 12, 2009, 8:18 GMT

    FACTS FROM LAST 3 YEARS: a) India beat Eng in Eng; b) India achive 1-2 in SA; had beaten hosts at the Wanderers; c) India achieve 1-2 in Aus, beating hosts at the WACA, while Steve Bucknor beat Ind at Sydney; d) India achieve 1-2 in SL; e) India hammer Aus 2-0 at home, beat Eng 1-0 at home, thro' terrific chase; f) India win in NZ (btw, also dominating in the ODIs); g) India hammer SL 2-0 at home (Funnily, Sanga concedes they were outbatted & outbowled; later throws up a RIDICULOUS CLAIM that umpires cost them 500 runs...how did he arrive at that no.? Was Dilshan going to make 500 runs?? Why didn't he reject the 2-0 result and protest to the ICC?? And why did he and his team go to a party right after the match to join in India's celebrations??). BOTTOM LINE: India are deservedly in the Top 2 (the rankings of 1 and 2 could keep changing periodically). Some sour grapes can't handle the resurgence of Asian powers...but they will have to get used to it!

  • POSTED BY SatyajitM on | December 12, 2009, 8:01 GMT

    @Django, i had better impression about Sangakkara before the series. He behaved like a cry baby at the end of the test series. SL claim that had Dilshan not been given out at 114 in first innings he would have slammed a double ton, but interestingly Dilshan never went beyond 168 in his career (11 tons). His second innings judgement was lot more marginal (ex English spinner Robert Croft opined it was out). SL managed to lose both tests by innings and most of their batsmen didn't show the guts and persaverance when required. Sangakkara played a good innings when it was all lost. Coming to Sydney test, inspite of the wrong decisions India should have drawn the test (and hence series) but India's tail couldn't even play for 7 mins (3 tailenders) and lost it. That's a lot closer than innings defeat! But a defeat is always a defeat. The score book always shows it as a lost test and points awarded to Aus.

  • POSTED BY Quazar on | December 12, 2009, 8:00 GMT

    Clearly, some Aussies and some Springboks just can't handle the resurgence of coloured people! Hey @popcorn, AUSTRALIA'S BEST YEARS ARE IN THE PAST...THEY ARE NO LONGER NO.1...LOST 2-0 IN INDIA, LOST 2-1 IN ENGLAND, LOST 2-1 TO SA AT HOME...IN TROUBLE AGAINST THE WI...THAT IS YOUR PRESENT STATUS! Now, South Africa are MUCH BETTER THAN AUS and so the INDIA-SA BATTLES IN 2010 (1 home series and 1 away) will give us the UNAMBIGUOUS ANSWER TO WHO IS NO.1 AND WHO IS NO. 2.

  • POSTED BY SatyajitM on | December 12, 2009, 7:42 GMT

    @popcorn, objectivity is not a problem with Harsha, it's with you. Australia did win a series in India but in 2004. SA did win a series in India but in 2000. Which proves Aus was a better team than India and SA in 2000. Definitely agree to that. But are talking little more present. Everybody knows Aus strength has come down significantly. Just too many losses in last 18 months, Ind, Eng, SA. SA is somewhat better off with win at Aus but lost to them in the return series (had they won that series, they would have been justifiably the no 1 side). We can not say a team is champion NOW based on their form 3 years back, that's about Aus. SA is better off and the points table suggests so. At the moment India is best in test, closely followed by SA and Aus slightly behind. Hot and humid weather, spinning pitches, home advantage all are hackneyed argument beaten to death...

  • POSTED BY slappinjax on | December 12, 2009, 5:27 GMT

    Also as far as India playing at home goes. Its the toughest tour in world cricket not just due to the dry and dusty pitches but for the entire experience that is like nowhere else in the world. The heat, the crowds, the food, the chaos. No doubt the locals take it all for granted as normal but its a massive culture shock for most people, particulaly for a visting cricket team. Nowhere else has the same passioned frenzy for the game. This is of course a huge advantage for the Indian cricketers who are used to this as normal. While its true that every side has its home advantage and its own cultural nuances, India takes it to another level. Its why a series win in India is treasured because its not just about beating the eleven guys on the other team but also overcoming all the other obstacles a tour India invariably throws up.

  • POSTED BY slappinjax on | December 12, 2009, 5:14 GMT

    I think India may well just marginally be the number one side at the moment but I think it has more to with the decline of Australia then any particular great strides by India. I actually think India has had better sides than this one over the last decade. Obviously whichever side is number 1 at the moment is not going to be like the Windies or the Aussies at the peak of their respective powers but one of a number of sides that all have their own claims to be top dog. India certainly has the talent and passion to take the mantle as the undisputed number 1 side but first they will have to tick off those away wins in Oz and SA or there will always be those who doubt.

  • POSTED BY cwc2011 on | December 12, 2009, 4:48 GMT

    I just dont understand what the fuss is all about.India has not become no.1 overnight.This has been a long process that started with India beating Australia in kolkata in 2001.That was the first step for the no.1 spot.India won tests in every part of the world not just in India itself.Jo'burg,Kingston,Adelaid,Trentbridge,Perth etc.So it was not because of winning in indian soil only.Indian team has been performing consistently over a span of ten years.In this span many teams had achieve the pinnacle and now are nowhere near it.Its just a process.Today India and tomorrow may be another team will be at no1.So we should not fight over who is no1 and who is no2 but celebrate this process and enjoy cricket.

  • POSTED BY V.GOMES on | December 12, 2009, 4:34 GMT

    I find very suspicious how India does well against cash strapped small countries like West Indies & Sri Lanka but fares so badly against big countries and in muti-national REGULATED tournaments like the Champions Trophy, World Cup 2007. The tour of WI and the multiple tours of SL were the main reason(s) for India coming-up the rankings this year. India wins Compac cup in SL (thanks to thecompaccup coin toss that came heads 100% of the time. How did they negotiate to call the toss in the final?) Then they to loose so badly at the ChampTrophy. Now again does well against SL. I guess its difficult to bribe/fix all nations of ICC coz not all teams are cash strapped like SL and WI. Besides the bug tournaments are very closely watched/regulated by ICC and all countries.

  • POSTED BY KingOwl on | December 12, 2009, 4:14 GMT

    What I noticed was how India manipulates its home wickets, much more so than any other country. A wicket that is seaming like crazy during one tour is a flat track during another tour, and a crumbling dust bowl next, depending on the visitors. This manipulation is basically cheating, and is what makes winning at home rather dubious. In other countries we all know how a particular wicket behaves well in advance, because they always behave in a predictable way. It does not matter whether the wicket seams, or spins, or neither. It just has to remain the same irrespective of the opposing team. That is basic fair-play. Indians need to learn that to earn opponent's respect.

  • POSTED BY kentjones on | December 12, 2009, 4:03 GMT

    This is another response to Critah's comments about the West Indies. I have researched the facts about population and size. Country Population Land Area sqmiles West Indies 6 million 94,000 ( Guyana alone 83,000sqmi pop 770,000) India 1.15 billion 1.3 million NewZealand 4.3 million 104000 Australia 22 million 3.3 million Sri Lanka 20 million 23,000 England 50 million 50,000 Pakistan 181 million 340,403 Zimbabwe 12 million 151,500 Bangladesh 162 million 51,000 If I were to indicate some of the individual countries, Barbados has a population of 280,000 people and an area of 167 square miles. Trinidad a population of 2.3 million and an area of 2000 square miles. Jamaica a population of 2.8 million and an area of 4444 square miles. Mr. Criktah these factsa speak volumes!

  • POSTED BY lucky_luke on | December 12, 2009, 3:35 GMT

    India is a bad place for cricket because 'great' batsmen like Ponting have no clue how to play spinners here. Its another matter that he will be made to look like a fool even in a 'good' pitch if there is a bowler bowling like Ishant. The way he played Ishant, I am sure he would have scored a million facing the likes of McGrath and Lee. Too bad they were in his team.

    India is also a bad place for cricket because '#1 bowlers' like Warne and Murli are thrashed mercilessly. If India winning abroad is the criteria, should we wait till Ponting averages 40 in India till he is included in the 'top 10' modern batsmen list headed by Sachin, Lara, Dravid?

  • POSTED BY JB77 on | December 12, 2009, 3:16 GMT

    "And Anil Kumble was the leader at a decisive moment in Indian cricket: in Australia in 2008". Would that be the moment where he chucked a tantrum and threatened to take his bat and his ball and go home? I had a lot of respect for Kumble up until his handling of the umpiring controversy and racism allegations during that tour. From that point on I has little time for much of the Indian team and their prima donna ways.

  • POSTED BY IndiaGoats on | December 12, 2009, 3:15 GMT

    popcorn, the #1 test ranking is NOT for the team that has won everywhere. It is for the team that has consistently won the most in RECENT TIMES. Granted, the rules for deciding the #1 may be flawed, but they apply the same way to everyone. India has been the most consistent in recent times. Now you know why IIM Ahmedabad is the best :-)

  • POSTED BY TwitterJitter on | December 12, 2009, 3:01 GMT

    India is #1 per ranking system devised by ICC. I don't give a hoot if someone thinks they deserved it or not. The rankings say #1 and #1 it is. Nobody knows how long it lasts. If it causes heartburn for some that India is #1 at the moment too bad. Go get some heartburn medication. No apologies made for being #1 and no guilt felt. If any Indian fans feel guilt for India being ranked #1, you need to get some therapy as well. They can get a tissue and join other whingers out here. A lot of whingers seem to be from Aussieland and Lankaland along with many from Indialand who always feel guilty (with some inferiority complex mixed in ) about their birthland. For all those Indians suffering guilt, here's a quote from Eleanor Roosevelt for you. "No one can make you feel inferior without your consent."

  • POSTED BY dave89 on | December 12, 2009, 2:59 GMT

    It's amazing that Indians have the hide to whinge about Sydney. From Sharma's deliberate cheating by wasting time with the "forgotten" gloves to Harbajan second racial episode of racial abuse which the Indian team gave various accounts and excuses for, culminating in the disgraceful blackmail of the ABC to "clear" Singh.

    Tendulkars ball tampering was an "accident". Gavaskar leaving the field was due to provocation.

    Indian fans are remarkably thin skinned when it comes to other nations, but very quick to be holier than thou when it comes to a team with the worst disciplinary record in world cricket.

    Which is partially why Indian cricket is not respected, other than the power of Indina money which has introduced its own problems over the past 20 years

  • POSTED BY intcamd on | December 12, 2009, 2:55 GMT

    popcorn - your comments are completely devoid of any common sense.

    Australia won home and away, so they are #1? WHen was that? They lost the Ashes to England, a lowly ranked team, just months ago. They lost at home to SA. They lost 0-2 to India.

    You mean, they USED to win? SO, they used to win 6 years ago, and they should be ranked #1 now? How about Pete Sampras used to win tennis matches in the 1990s, so he should be #1 now?

    South Africa lost at home to AUS and drew 1-1 wit India. No, they dont win home and away, not every series.

    If you understood ranking systems, they can be flawed, however, same rules apply to all the teams. For a long time, the ICC system said AUS was the #1, then SA was, and now it is India. Read it and weep.

  • POSTED BY popcorn on | December 12, 2009, 2:33 GMT

    I was given to understand that Harsha Bhogle is from IIM Ahmedabad - a Management Professional. Then why does it find it difficult to comprehend why India CANNOT be rated as Number 1 in Test Rankings - OBJECTIVELY? India has NEVER WON a SERIES IN AUSTRALIA. India has NEVER WON a SERIES IN South Africa. The ONLY Country that has won SERIES HOME AND AWAY is Australia. Australia are truly Number 1. South Africa, are next.

  • POSTED BY intcamd on | December 12, 2009, 2:22 GMT

    Harinder, WW113 and other detractors of India - you say India never won in Australia and hence can't be rightfully #1. By the same reckoning, Australia did not win in India between 1969 and 2004, and yet no one seriously said Australia was not the true #1 - for 9 years from 1995 onwards, Aussies were considered universally the best team, and in that time frame, they lost 3 series in India. Dubious logic and double standards, any one?

  • POSTED BY IndiaGoats on | December 12, 2009, 1:25 GMT

    Regarding winning at home vs. away, consider this. India has lost away at Aus and SA (2 of the top teams), but has won against Eng, WI, NZ. Whereas, Aus has also lost away to India and Eng (not even in the top 3). SA has failed to beat SL (at that time not even in the top 3) the last time. Doesn't that mean India loses only to top teams abroad, whereas Aus and SA fail even to lower ranked teams? I am not convinced fully of my own argument, but data says that away performances are not so inbalanced to deny India the #1 spot.

  • POSTED BY IndiaGoats on | December 12, 2009, 0:58 GMT

    tfsjones1978, it would be good to links to your "scientific facts". I am not debating that, I just don't know anything about that. But my point is, professional sports teams have no business complaining about weather, food, pitches, etc. If they want to win, they should prepare appropriately. Winning on dead or spinning pitches or in hot & humid weather is not illegal. All the rules of cricket are still intact. PienkZuit, the point of this article is precisely this - what is wrong with preparing pitches that suit the home team. All other teams do it. I would argue that if Aus, SA cannot win on spinning pitches, they are not ready to be #1 either. iseven_7, are you even following the same cricket the rest of us. We have neutral umpires. So let us not hear about umpiring biases in India. if at all, it is the incompetence of umpires (such as Bucknor at Sydney) that needs to be considered.

  • POSTED BY VijayRajan on | December 12, 2009, 0:44 GMT

    The globe is not even. It does not snow in the equitorial regions and there is no desert in the poles.

    Cry babies always cry. Why change them?

  • POSTED BY sivar_1982 on | December 12, 2009, 0:43 GMT

    Its a very good news, that INDIA came to #1 spot in test Cricket.. But i don't think its b'coz of their consistency.. also i see few commented like Australia and SA have only bouncy pitches.. They do have the spin track, Consider Centurion and Port Elizabeth, they are perfect Spinning tracks and in AUS , they have Adeliade and Sydney.. Also remind you that they dont prepare pitches for their Home advantage like India did in Kanpur or Mumbai.. Those would have made completly whitewash their defeats againts Australias.. India did played well enough to get to this position thanks to some very strong performance from few individuals.... Its not long enough they lose this position..

    I would like to go with Championship in test Cricket.. We talking about that Great Indian team came to #1 rankings.. Look at some teams which were in that position for Decade....:)

  • POSTED BY VijayRajan on | December 12, 2009, 0:41 GMT

    Well said Harsha. This is good criticism, incorrect criticism and plain denial-criticism.

    Most English critics of Indian Cricket have been in denial. Most Australian critics have been incorrect and quite a few South Africans have been correct.

    When SA re-entered cricket, captain Clive Rice mentioned in despair that Indian wickets were grassless. He was right in calling it grassless(for no real fault of the curator) but the despair was his problem(not India).

    Let this be the last retaliation to critics of the Indian cricket team. We should take each criticism on its merits... just like you play the over.

  • POSTED BY paramthegreat on | December 12, 2009, 0:27 GMT

    just an outside issue , but the reason i think why the spinning tracks are considered are considered bad and seaming tracks sporting is mainly coz there are more seam bowlers in the world than spin . Also ,even on seaming tracks, spinners can get suffiecient assistance if they apply themselves. But the same cant be said for seamers on spin friendly tracks, except maybe reverse swing

  • POSTED BY asad114 on | December 12, 2009, 0:06 GMT

    The answer to your question,"What's wrong with India winning at home? Other countries have good home records too. Why do India get stick for theirs?" is this:

    India is yet to win a series in Australia, South Africa and Sri Lanka...They do not deserve to be number 1 because they have not won in these challenging countries.. instead they have won in India on the basis of their batsmen performing in familiar conditions and then their bowlers taking wickets because the oppositions are staring at huge totals....this is exactly what happenned in the series against sri lanka....

  • POSTED BY epochery on | December 11, 2009, 23:31 GMT

    The factthat India is top witout winning a series in safrica or australia shows the flaws in the system. I have devised my own ranking and in the last 2 years i have india only 4th and south africa along way ahead. Unless they win some big series away from home, yes i know they won in england, they will not be taken seriously.

  • POSTED BY Lahori_Munde on | December 11, 2009, 22:46 GMT

    iseven_7, yours is the most interesting comment I have ever seen here and forced me to raply..:) If the series was played in Bagladesh then it has to be the umpires from Bangladesh OR the International umpires. Please know your cricket first. Now you think Bangladesh lost to India because Indian batsmen were repeatedly not given out then you're dreaming. You know where Bangladesh stands in Cricket ranking and even the question raised around the world on allowing Bagldesh to get Elite Status. I am a huge cricket fan and watching as much cricket as I can regardless of who is playing. And the umpiring today is not that bad. If you want to see bad umpiring, go back and see Shakur Rana OR some of those Aussie umpires, especially during Lille/Thomas era in the series against WI. The bottomline is India is at the top and they deserve their ranking.

  • POSTED BY The_Rohit on | December 11, 2009, 21:35 GMT

    India is the #1 team in the world. Stop arguing.

    But they are not #1 by a huge margin. And that is the true reflection of the team strength. Stop complaining that India cannot win in Australia or South Africa. Can Australia or South Africa win in India? Of the last 2 series these 2 teams played in India, they have won only 3 test matches! And of those 2 came on green tops! India has gone to these countries and won on their tailor made pitches (Jo'burg, Perth, Headingly, Kingston)...why can't these teams do the same in India on a Kanpur or Chennai or Mumbai turner?

    Harsha is dead on! Stop be-littling India's achievement. England won the Ashes twice in the past to earn huge accolades...but they did it at home both times. Did anyone take that as a minus? Australia has had several clean sweeps at home in their heyday to confirm their #1 status. Was that held against them?

    @ww113: India has the most complete bowling attack. Quality left armers, right armers, off spinners, leg spinners

  • POSTED BY zaigham16 on | December 11, 2009, 21:25 GMT

    Nice article celebrating the rightly deserved success. Lets see if the guys in the green give us something to cheer about over the next 4 days. Much success to Indian team for future.

  • POSTED BY AvidCricFan on | December 11, 2009, 20:46 GMT

    Harsha must be kidding to name Karthik as extraordinary player. His records in all forms is dismal. Just check is career averages. Jaffer is not much different from Karthik, except his home record may be little better. Jaffer is big suspect against pace and bouncy wickets.

  • POSTED BY Mitcher on | December 11, 2009, 20:42 GMT

    Boo hoo! Someone order 1 billion tissues, you're breaking my heart. I guess the parallel is that fans of certain countries (one in particular) like to walk away from ANOTHER series defeat in Australia claiming the INTERNATIONAL umpires are for some reason biased against them and in the pocket of the Australians. It is this type of bleating that has had the review debacle thrown upon us because some can't seem to accept the umpire's decision. So spare us the whining now you've got your extremely tentative grip on the questionable ICC rankings number 1. Question for Harsha: Have you regained that respect you so dramatically claimed you'd lost for Adam GIlchrist after you let your emotions get the better of you post-Sydney? I tried to count the amount of times a player has appealed when its clear a batsman was not out since, but so many I lost count after an hour. Must be tough for a fine upstanding gentleman as yourself to walk amongst those grubby, over appealing cricketers!

  • POSTED BY PPD123 on | December 11, 2009, 20:39 GMT

    I completely agree with "vinitvishal". Talking of substandard pitches, when India toured SA, the prepared a greentop at Durban, knowing fully well that India had struggled in the past there(getting bundled out for less than 100 in their last visit there), but as luck wud have it, India won the toss and fielded, and the "strong" SA batting line up capitulated for 84. NO ONE SPOKE OF THE PITCH BEING UNDERPREPARED. Btw, people forget that SA complained about Kanpur pitch being substandard - infact they won the toss their and batted, so they batted 1st and 3rd (basically the best of batting conditions) where as India batted last and still won. Completely agree with Harsha that the credit due to India is not being given. There is a lot of hard work and good results for 5 yrs, which has now culminated in them being No 1. It has not happened overnight. International cricket is about batting in ALL conditions and Indian wickets are a challenge which the rest of the world should aim to conquer.

  • POSTED BY FMatt on | December 11, 2009, 20:01 GMT

    Good article, Harsha. I agree that paying a large sum of money to the current team for getting to No. 1 doesn't do justice to all those who played for India in the recent years and did their part to bring India up there. Also, am glad to see that SA is (most probably) going to play two tests in India when they visit us soon. I just wish that this sudden desire to play those tests were not motivated by the rise to No. 1 in tests and wanting to stay there. Hmmm.... Money does play a part in some decisions and then fame takes over in others :-).

  • POSTED BY Vkarthik on | December 11, 2009, 19:59 GMT

    Technically India is giving the fairest possible tracks to opposition. Infact Nagpur Test had lively track that suited Australia. Indian pitches have much more variation than some of the other countries. Teams that have potent bowling attacks can trouble India in India. Whenever a top bowler doesn't do well in India they go "Even Murali couldn't do well". Just because Murali is a great spinner it is not mandatory he would be a success everywhere. Murali has a poor record in Australia. Can we say Australian pitches don't give any advantage to opposition except Australia?

  • POSTED BY ElmerGantry on | December 11, 2009, 19:44 GMT

    If India aren't the #1 team who is? For understandable reasons Australia are clearly on the wane; SA can very good but lack the elan associated with the very best sides; SL looked very much second best in the just completed series; Eng are Eng and Pakistan are Pakistan: good, bad, and indifferent in equal parts; NZ are competitive; WI may (sadly) never again be a force. India are currently the best test side. They are not yet great like the recent vintage Aus team or WI 1980s, and may well never reach that level, but to suggest that they aren't really #1 simply because they're better at home than away is risible: if you win enough, home or away, you're the best.

  • POSTED BY sumithobby on | December 11, 2009, 19:43 GMT

    what a wonderful article. It is all about facts.I completely agree on giving away cash rewards on just becoming the no. 1 team in test cricket is not right. It was the teams duty and their target as well to reach there, and for that only all the teams in the world play. Next big thing would be to see for how long they can maintain it. We have seen this Indian team winning the t-20 world cup and now struggling in the same format of the game. And certainly it is very true that this moment does not come from just this team's and Dhoni's efforts, as the winning habit was given to this team by our own Saurav Ganguly. He was a great captain. Rest congrats to our cricket team and all the heroes who worked hard to get our team at this spot.

  • POSTED BY Django on | December 11, 2009, 18:55 GMT

    So, India got to #1 by beating a Sri Lankan side whose skipper reckons they lost about 500 runs and a bunch of wickets in just one test, all thanks to bad umpiring. Not one Indian supporter seems to bring these bad decisions up, but hey, they still sit and talk about how they would have won the series in Australia had it not been for bad umpiring. I wonder if the same group would turn around here and sit and talk about how they would never have become #1 at the end of this series had it nor been for, guess what, bad umpiring.

  • POSTED BY Yorker_ToeCrusher on | December 11, 2009, 18:21 GMT

    Agree with Harsha.India deserver the top ranking,they worked hard for that over the years .Theirbatting line up is the best in world for quite some time now.A test series involving india downunder at this pont of time would be fascinating towatch.

  • POSTED BY vinitvishal on | December 11, 2009, 18:16 GMT

    Why is spinning track considered bad is beyond me. England and NZ can have tracks where ball will swings more than it spins in India. Australia and south Africa can have tracks which are twice as bouncy as subcontinental track.But they are considered "SPORTING" tracks.Inspite of Sub continental team finding it difficult to play on such pitches we have never heard them complaining about a "bouncy" Australian or a "swinging" English pitch . But Just because English or Australian or most of other teams cant play spin, Subcontinental pitches become substandard. Many people have commented on India preparing Spinning tracks in Kanpur ( against SA) and Mumbai (against Australia) . But let me remind you , there were two teams playing on the same track and India being better player of spin won. So stop moaning if your batsman cant play spin or your bowler cant bowl it and respect the diversity of cricket in every country.

  • POSTED BY Priyank.V on | December 11, 2009, 18:13 GMT

    Typical Harsha... As usual, he brings the hidden part of the game. This time is about the Team India. Yes, it all started way back in 2000 when Saurav Ganguly was made the leader of the team. Almost half the present team was brought up by backing the players to the full extent, be it Sehwag, Yuvraj, Bhajji, Zaheer, Laxman, Nehra, and those who are not there in the current team. As far as the turning tracks in India are concerned, let the others say whatever they want. If we also provide the seaming or bouncing pitches then where the hell " Home Advantage" will go...

  • POSTED BY ww113 on | December 11, 2009, 17:55 GMT

    Well,Harsha they have reached the number one spot by mostly winning at home.I'll accept them as number one only if they win consistently outside India.Sri Lanka beat them in Sri Lanka.Australia beat them in Australia.They are a good batting side but they just don't have a fearsome bowling attack.

  • POSTED BY kentjones on | December 11, 2009, 17:28 GMT

    This is a direct response to criktah's comments about West Indies. It is very obvious that you have never been to the West Indies. The total population of the West Indies 'cricketing nations' (not all play cricket e.g. Cuba, Haiti,Puerto Rico) is between 7 to 10 million. Barbados has less than 750,000 for instance, total land area is also pretty small and so are the economies as well. As single units we would be seriously disadvantaged in both population pool options and financing capability to develop the game to be seriously competitive. It is a marvel of modern sport that West Indies have been able to be so dominant in cricket for so many years, when one considers the size of the population and the economy . My friend you have betrayed your utter ignorance of world geography by making such ridiculous comments. We are a few specks of dust on the map, relatively unknown as individual islands, but aspiring to greatness on the circket field.

  • POSTED BY HarinderJadwani on | December 11, 2009, 17:22 GMT

    The obvious reason is the disparity - somewhat arrested in recent years - of India's performance at home (very good to excellent) versus abroad - patchy at best. To this date India has not won a Test series in Australia, although they came close in 2003-4 when the Aussies narrowly escaped defeat at Sydney as India (particularly Sachin) failed to go for the kill, and in 2007-8 were undone by Kumble's shortcomings as a captain (not picking Sehwag in the earlier Test matches including Melbourne where on the previous tour he had scored 195 on the first day) and opting to have Dravid open which was utterly disastrous, and coupled with the loathsome tactics of the Australians at Sydney, when half the Aussie side ganged up to stage an incident against Harbhajan simply because he was batting beautifully. (As a postscript, many of the big names in that gang - Hayden, Gilchrist, Symonds, suffered career reversals/ends shortly thereafter - and the Aussie Test team falling from #1 to # 4, poetic..

  • POSTED BY TwitterJitter on | December 11, 2009, 17:17 GMT

    @V.GOMES - You are right. India wins only because of UDRS and because BCCI bullies other boards into losing their games so that they are invited again. Now, if you can do anything about it, do it. Otherwise, stop spamming websites with your propaganda!

  • POSTED BY VGYadav on | December 11, 2009, 17:17 GMT

    Django's views about India's ascendancy aptly substantiate Harsha's points. For one, he raises issues with the type of balls used in India. India played Australia at home and away very recently and using his own words, had a patent advantage when they played at home but were equally disadvantaged while playing in Australia - pitches, balls, crowds etc. India lost in Australia 2-1 (which is unfair since the fairest result for that series, discounting Sydney's drama, was 1-1). In the return series, they thumped Australia 2-0 (yes, thumped!). India's margins of defeat in Australia were substantially lesser than Australia's in India. So India won the entire contest 3-2 (despite playing 1 fewer test at home, implying, using terminology borrowed from North American sports, it was Australia with "home advantage"!), and also scored more runs and took more wickets (also, received more incorrect umpiring decisions!). Django - you still think India is not worthy of the top prize? Pity.

  • POSTED BY the-rao-ster on | December 11, 2009, 17:15 GMT

    When was the last time we went to Australia and got a flat turning pitch. We tour Australia, England and SA knowing that it will be bouncy pitches and they tour India knowing it will be flat and turning pitches. So lets us move on.

  • POSTED BY vinitvishal on | December 11, 2009, 17:14 GMT

    Why is spinning track considered bad is beyond me. England and NZ can have tracks where ball will swings more than it spins in India. Australia and south Africa can have tracks which are twice as bouncy as subcontinental track.But they are considered "SPORTING" tracks.Inspite of Sub continental team finding it difficult to play on such pitches we have never heard them complaining about a "bouncy" Australian or a "swinging" English pitch . But Just because English or Australian or most of other teams cant play spin, Subcontinental pitches become substandard. Many people have commented on India preparing Spinning tracks in Kanpur ( against SA) and Mumbai (against Australia) . But let me remind you , there were two teams playing on the same track and India being better player of spin won. So stop moaning if your batsman cant play spin or your bowler cant bowl it and respect the diversity of cricket in every country.

  • POSTED BY Cricviper on | December 11, 2009, 17:09 GMT

    I don believe in No.1 in Test Cricket atleast as of now... But to those who claim india win matches on spin friendly wickets.

    India win on spinning tracks.. but struggle on moving tracks Aus and SA win on moving tracks... but struggle on spinning tracks Hence they r on level are'nt they ???

  • POSTED BY rajanshammi on | December 11, 2009, 17:06 GMT

    Harsha, why don't you take up modelling. You look pretty cute with that new hairdo.

  • POSTED BY k_kinshuk on | December 11, 2009, 17:02 GMT

    when teams struggle to put on runs b'coz the pitches favour fast bowlers nd u get results...it's a good wicket....

    but when batsmen score @ 4 an over, nd yet there's a result at the end, it isn't a good track....

  • POSTED BY khatharnak on | December 11, 2009, 16:57 GMT

    Harsha is right on the money about the money rewards for the present team only. This has been a 10 year journey. And Harsha missed out Anil Kumble when he mentioned about bowlers. Without Anil we would not have won many matches whether he was captain or not, home or away. He has been our defacto match-winner for more than a decade and towards later part of his career consistently even away from home.

  • POSTED BY crikkfan on | December 11, 2009, 16:44 GMT

    3214414421 - and this is wrong..because? Did you even read the article by Harsha? Most teams prepare pitches at home to their advantage - Australia does, SA does. If SA cant win a test on a spinning track - that is their problem - does not undermine India in anyway. IMO getting allout in Motera in 20 overs was the only blemish for India over the last 3-4 years of test cricket. Their #1 is richly deserved. Whether they'll hold on to it or not is another question.

  • POSTED BY bansalashish on | December 11, 2009, 16:43 GMT

    A lot has been said about wickets in India and how they are batting pitches. However, this article on CricInfo http://www.cricinfo.com/magazine/content/story/438890.html talks about the best test venues for bowlers and batsmen. Funnily enough, no Indian ground features in the top 5 bowler friendly or batsmen friendly grounds!!! Whereas Australian grounds feature in both! Harsha, loved your article. It brings out an important point, and maybe exposes some hidden biases people have.

  • POSTED BY amp64 on | December 11, 2009, 16:35 GMT

    No doubt about it, India is an excellent team. But the article misses the point: India's record away from home is the problem. For example, they usually play very poorly in South Africa. Also, when Sehway scores a fighting century against Dale Steyn etc in full flight in Cape Town or Johannesburg, then we can regard him as great. But not before.

  • POSTED BY kalikesam on | December 11, 2009, 16:26 GMT

    i suppose i have to agree with HB for my views to be posted on cricinfo. what can you expect from a site that has been taken over by ESPN STAR...

  • POSTED BY 3214414421 on | December 11, 2009, 15:48 GMT

    K! I know this hard to digest that India favours themselves at home by making pitches favouring their side... but this is a fact without offending anyboday here i would like you all to remind 2008 series between India and South Africa in India where the hosts were 1 down and were embarssed by getting allout under 100 and then what happened the next pitch was made a spinning track which was hugely criticized by Graeme Smith and others as the pitch was not made by considering the strengths of both team thus South Africa lost the last test match levellin the series 1-1...

  • POSTED BY cricktah on | December 11, 2009, 15:32 GMT

    For decades the WI was the world's Nbr1 team by virtue of being a coalition of 15+ countries and not a national team. If they had played as individual countres, we would have seen how good they were! If anything was blatantly unfair, then this was so! Was it fair for individual countries to play against a conglomeration?

    The spurious argument made in the favor of WI is that they had a small talent pool! Well, NZ also has a small pool of talent, but they are making do with limited resources.

    Had WI played as individual national teams, they may not even have been good enough to be test teams! Maybe it is time that countries like Netherlands, Ireland protested about the WI continuing to play as one team. Why should they be denied test team status just because they are playing as individual countries, while the WI is not?

  • POSTED BY krik8crazy on | December 11, 2009, 15:28 GMT

    The # 1 ranking is a recognition for consistent results. India has been consistent in test matches for years now and accumulated enough ranking points to reach the #1 spot. Does the #1 ranking mean that the Indian team is the absolute best in the world and likely to win every game? Not likely. Cricket is about who plays better in each match to win it. The Indian team has worked hard to win the requisite number of games to get to the # 1 ranking. Much has been made about India's away record or lack thereof. Let it not be forgotten that the other 2 top teams Australia and South Africa lost a series each in their own backyard. Australia surrendered the Ashes yet again, losing an away series to England. Those that dispute India's # 1 ranking probably rate Australia or South Africa higher. I disagree. If you take out the home advantage and stage matches at a neutral venue, India, Australia and South Africa would be evenly matched with India probably having a slight edge.

  • POSTED BY msreed on | December 11, 2009, 15:28 GMT

    I feel sorry for Sri Lanka for being at the receiving end of the Umpiring errors. But the margins were substantial so I do not think SL would have even drawn the series even after accounting for umpiring mistakes. When India lost in Aus last year after the lopsided umpiring, the crucial loss occurred in the last over of the test match. There is no question in my mind that without the neutral umpires, it would have been very difficult for visiting teams to win in Inda. But such was the case in all the test playing countries with the possible exception of England. Another point to ponder is that since the advent of neutral umpires, while India's home win/loss ratio declined, their overseas record improvedment more than made up for the loss. Cheers

  • POSTED BY cricktah on | December 11, 2009, 15:21 GMT

    How convenient that the rankings lose meaning just when India become Nbr1!!!

    Pacy/Bouncy/Swinging tracks are ok but spinning tracks are not??? FYI - Most of the test tracks prepared in India nowadays are overtly batsman friendly. Gone are the days when pitches were spinning minefields. If Indian bowlers are still able to get 20 wickets, credit should go to them. also to Indian batsmen for being able to score at 4+ an overeven on the 4th and 5th days.

    Umpiring in India has never plumbed the depths that it has in other countries. Umpiring mistakes may have been committed here and there but it has never been blatant and wilful. the same cannot be said for venues like Australia, WI, SL where match outcomes have been decided by multiple dicey decisions.

  • POSTED BY indianpunter on | December 11, 2009, 15:10 GMT

    My good god! V.Gomes. you are a little sorry, traumatised soul. If you go on this tirade, no one will ever take you seriously, mate. AND you still havent learnt to spell "lose", loser !!

  • POSTED BY cric4india on | December 11, 2009, 15:09 GMT

    Very sensible article, Harsha! But you make them understand all day long, there's no use. It is a country where people do not themselves achieve anything, but when few of us do, they try to devalue it by comparing with foreigners. It's like a restaurant scenario. "Whatever be the food you order, you will long for someone else's plate".

  • POSTED BY Alexk400 on | December 11, 2009, 15:01 GMT

    Also disagree with Gomes view of Umpires are afraid of BCCI and so on...Infact opposite happens in India. Umpires makes mistake. They are human. But if there is a particular pattern like Bucknor deliberately did is not happening in india. Indian people are fair minded when it comes to cricket. They do not mind if better team beat india fair and square. We all know SA is better on green top and india is better on spinning wickets. I expect india to make 2 flat wicket test pitches so two mindless draw happens and make sa is also mildly happy in that no 1 , No 2 teams are in fact equal no 1.

    if SA wins it will be green top and whole indian media go after BCCI , if India wins , whole world go after BCCI for making spinning wicket because they can't play on them.

    i do not care on what people think as long as it is result oriented in either way. I want people go for a win at all cost. Lets see the TEST championship!

  • POSTED BY Alexk400 on | December 11, 2009, 14:53 GMT

    2 more TESTS will decide who is number 1. It will be Flat wickets and ensure 2 draws and 2 century for sachin. That is most possible outcome of any Tests organized by BCCI.

    India should make spinning wicket. I do not mind that. No flat wickets though

    Boycott is a fool for not saying Sehwag is not great. Sehwag done what no other batsman in the world has done...he is not done yet. Watch sehwag shut boycotts blabbering mouth...

  • POSTED BY Django on | December 11, 2009, 14:51 GMT

    As long as India keep insisting on playing with SG balls and not move on to the kookaburra, like every other nation in the world (save England I guess), it will always always be hard for people like myself to take India's home victories seriously. I would like to see them take on a top 4 nation at home and beat them with the kookaburra, but I am not sure they have it in them to make that call. And please, will someone make a wicket in India where there is also a secondary option to choose on winning the toss? Blindfold the skipper, don't show him the wicket, throw him into the toss and ask him what he wants to do upon winning it - he will bat. And guess what, he would be right too. Any captain that actually wants to bowl on winning the toss in India? Rare occurrences. Arite, off I go to ask Steven about this.

  • POSTED BY Allan716 on | December 11, 2009, 14:49 GMT

    Harsha your points of view are excellent and in line with what all of us who haven't played the game at the highest level or even at domestic level think. Clearly it is the hard work put by the management teams and the captains of the past that have got this team to where it is. It is now important that Dhoni & Co achieve the consistency that Waugh and his team did. Winning at home should be valued more by us Indians just as the Aussies, Kiwis, Proteas and the English.

    For people complaining about the umpiring in India, please, get a life! The umpires are neutral and have been so for several years. Do not discredit the job that these guys do. India does not play many Test Matches at home and to say that the neutral umpires are pro India speaks volumes about your knowledge of the game.

  • POSTED BY diptanshu on | December 11, 2009, 14:37 GMT

    @ strokedthroughthecovers, Please don't give that excuse of Indian food causing discomfort to foreign players. A certain Mr. Shane Warne, used to carry cans of baked beans from Australia on his trips to India. And on almost all occasions was brutally trashed by Indian batsmen on the same spinner friendly Indian pitches where Kumble and Harbhajan took bagful of wickets. Chose your pick either Shane Warne doesn't know how to bowl on spinner friendly pitches of India or a case of baked beans gone sour or the Indian batsmen were too good for him? I am sure Warne, himself, would chose the last. Remember Warne's comment about nightmares about Sachin?

    And all teams (cricket or for that matter any sport) have this concept of home advantage! Weather, food, playing conditions, fan support all matters. Despite this, this Indian team has regularly won abroad too in the last 7-8 years.

    Give credit where it is due and stop whinging!

  • POSTED BY wg2010 on | December 11, 2009, 14:30 GMT

    "No one wants to watch India win on pitches that are so much in favour of the batsman."

    strokethroughthecovers, can you then explain why a batsman of the calibre of Ricky Ponting only averages in the 20s in India? If the tracks are so great for batting, surely someone who is seen as one of the world's top batsmen should be able to perform on such batting-friendly tracks? If India's batsmen are flat-track bullies who benefit from batting-friendly home tracks, how come Tendulkar and Dravid have higher away averages? How come Tendulkar averages over 50 in Australia whilst Ponting only averages in teh 20s in India? How come Sehwag has scored centuries in Australia? Also, Indian players have gotten sick from eating the food in England in the past. And the cold, damp, unpleasant, dull, grey weather also makes people sick/depressed. West Indies didn't seem to be enjoying playing in England in early May.

  • POSTED BY kentjones on | December 11, 2009, 13:35 GMT

    I am a West Indian, and I totally agree with Harsha's article. India are to be congratulated for being the number one side in thte world. If any one doubts that, the present West Indies team is showing that Australia is certainly not as good as they used to be. There is no doubt that the present Indian team is very strong and they have a very good mix of extremely good batters and quite competent seamers and spinners who can get the job done before or after the batters had done their thing. It is really sad to me that some people will try to reduce this great moment in Indias history by talking nonsense about thier winning at home. Any team's ability to comprehensively anihilate the opposition at home is a strength that should be acknowledged. It was really impressive to see India demolish a very good test team like Sri Lanka (they possess a good batting and bowling strength as well) in the manner in which they have done. I have no doubt that Indias'a ascension to the summit of cri

  • POSTED BY iamherenowfear on | December 11, 2009, 13:32 GMT

    look the other countries cry foul when india prepares so called "UNSPORTING PITCHES". well, if a pitch is called unsporting if it favours one part of the game like spinners or batsmen a little too much, by the same yardstick, why arent green pitches in NZ or eng also unsporting?

  • POSTED BY iamherenowfear on | December 11, 2009, 13:26 GMT

    to the gentlemen who criticized the umpiring in india and felt the BCCI controlled the umpires, i wud like to draw their attention to the brilliant 5 wicket haul by steve bucknor in the 2008 perth test. cmon guys, dunk the stereotype of bad indian umpires. i think umpiring is uniformly good ( or bad ) throughout the world.

  • POSTED BY MaheshSPanicker on | December 11, 2009, 13:24 GMT

    Australia won only one series in India in the last 40 years. England last won a series in India in the BC era. NZ has nothing much to talk about when it comes to winning in India. among teams outside the subcontinent, only South Africa can stand up as they won a series in India in the 21rst century. its another matter that they lost in 04 and managed a draw in 08. so saying India have not won at home is not exclusively Indian. other teams including Australia have had similar problems. but in saying all this, one has to agree that if the side is able to win consistently at home and maintain decent levels of performance outside, including England WY and NZ where they won series, and SA and Australia where they gave a close fight, the contribution of the pase bowling unit has been very important, along with the strong batting lineup led by the fab 4, Gambhir, Sehwag, and significantly, at 7 MS Dhoni.

  • POSTED BY ram_indian on | December 11, 2009, 13:08 GMT

    Hi all.. Very timely article, and balanced. India worked hard for the last 5-6 years to get where they are now. Regarding home advantage, no one should have issues if teams win at home more, it is but natural. Pitches are a product of weather, soil etc., The home team obviously know that best, and based on the opposition, should be able to choose the venue. Again, if India (or the home team) choose to leave out certain venues, as they might favor visitors more, that too is fair.However, once the venue is selected, changing the nature of wicket is where issues come in. Recent ex : India v Australia (Mumbai '08) when the test ended in 2 days, also Kanpur during SA visit last. In Australia, Brisbane and Perth are fast n bouncy, Adelaide a batting beauty, while Sydney is very Asian. Even when WI were beating Aus(80-90), pitches did not change and Sydney is more suited to Asian teams. Irrespective of the opposition, those pitches remain true to their nature..

  • POSTED BY Quazar on | December 11, 2009, 13:05 GMT

    As for umpiring, the Indian team has suffered just as many shockers away from home as any team visiting India. Someone mentioned SL and WI - well, just off the top of my head, I clearly recall that in SL last year, in the ODIs, you had SL umpires giving Sachin out lbw 3 times in a row, when the ball was missing leg on each occasion (Dharmasena was the ump on 2 of those calls). And in the WI, I can never forget the low-scoring Bridgtown test in 1997, when the WI umpire Lloyd Barker gave Siddhu out off a clear no-ball, and even more shockingly gave Sachin out caught when he was in the 90s off another big no-ball (by Bishop). India eventually lost that test match by 30-odd runs, thus losing a key series 1-0.

  • POSTED BY samgamgee on | December 11, 2009, 12:52 GMT

    After not having followed cricket for almost 30 years I got back to itin 2008 thanks to the internet and it is a little galling to see the french language truism of "plus ca change plus c'est la meme chose" proven. The white opinionators are uniformly patronizing and condescending about the rise of SriLanks and India's cricket. Pakistan, which its cornucopia of talent continues to self-destruct with bad management. The supporters are uniformly "JINGOISTIC". I hate to say this but I am saddened that in this day of almost global inter-twining cricket is still parochial. It looks like only a few have transcended those by sheer talent to make others not of their ilk to appreciate them irrespective of their national affiliations... I am sad to say I have completely missed the careers of Lara, Tendulkar(almost) and Ponting.Anyway, the only think that keeps fans interest is Parity, i.e, any team can beat any team on a given day. NFL has managed to achieve it. Hegemony is fleeting.

  • POSTED BY Quazar on | December 11, 2009, 12:43 GMT

    In the last 3-4 years, India have beaten Aus at Perth, SA at the Wanderers, dominated NZ in Wellington, beaten SL at Galle, and England in England...all this in addition to being dominant at home. Clearly, the Indian test team is now a formidable force. Yes, the 2 final frontiers - winning series' in SA and Aus - remain, but they are no reason to overlook the secular ascent of India's test cricket. Opponents beware!

  • POSTED BY shankaranarayanan on | December 11, 2009, 12:41 GMT

    Wooo...wooooo....I guess Harsha forgot to mention the other domestic hero"Badrinath"...wat else does the poor guy needs to prove??? 3 one day matches to judge a talent?? in that 3..he won 1 match for India in case iif someone forgot....the biggest joke in the article is Rohit Sharma.....common guys stop blabering about his technicalities in batting...this useless guy has been given N number of chances n he is still proving......Wat about Irfan pathan....he fits in the ODI and T20 Team any day...is he better than Jadeja??? Jadeja is a joke at no.7....he could play as a bowler but not as a allrounder at no.7...irfan is better suited for this position....after 2010 series with SA make Dravid and Tendulkar to retire from tests....Make Vijay bat at no.3 and Badrinath bat at no.4....or Pujara at number 3.

  • POSTED BY apyboutit on | December 11, 2009, 12:38 GMT

    PienkZuit: SA and Oz always prepare super bouncy pitches to suite their bowlers. Last time it hurt the Ozs badly. let us see them and you prepare spinning pitches - No way!!. Your best spinners got nothing but hit in India. You are crying sour grapes. You do not have spinners, so you cry. BTW, prepare all the bouncy pitches you want. The visit of India to SA will be the highlight of 2010 - you said it, and you will have it. Zaheer, Sreesanth, Ishant and R.P Singh will rip through the SA batting. By the end of the tour, and from then on, SA will never prepare bouncy pitches against India. We don't care about the No 1 spot yet. But we will own it truely by 2010. SA is our only unconquered territory. We will have it and have it by a huge margin, at our backyard and in your hall, before having "down under" for the side. I can say all this, because of the team that India have developed into now. I hope you watched the Ind-SL test series. Get ready. Next is YOU! OOOh! I loved saying it! ;)

  • POSTED BY Sidhanta-Patnaik on | December 11, 2009, 12:36 GMT

    There is indeed a story there! The story of character and mental integration

  • POSTED BY Matricfail on | December 11, 2009, 12:09 GMT

    I have not read this article yet but looking at the title and summary I am sure it's raising a point which has become hot talking point of English and Ausies. India has become number #1 by their performance home and away not by some ransom paid to Gang lords. I read an article in Timeonline.co.uk by some Mr. Simon who?? Wilde and he claimed ICC ranking system is faulty just because India became number. That bullshit and crazy they have so much prejudice that they start blubbering about flat pitches, home conditions etc as if they don't apply to them. The world is changing and they must learn that even SL has become a strong team it's only about time they will start Pom/Aus thrashing soon. Pak has its own trouble otherwise they are not bad team either.

  • POSTED BY Mahesh_AV on | December 11, 2009, 12:08 GMT

    Nice opening to the article. Not many in the world recognize the difference between helihopping to the top of a summit and climbing there through many camps and tough hiking. It is these ignorant folk who spend other people's time and money putting down Indian victories at home. Everybody is a tiger at home. No exceptions. If there have been comparisons of home and away series for any team, it has always been either ''as good as they are at home'' or ''their home record is better''. Never has it been ''their away record is better''. So, to denounce Indian home record is very unfair. It just shows the jealousy. If indeed pitches in India are "dead pitches'' where we saw scores of 700+ and the Indian team scored hard, what happend to the Sri Lankan team? Why did they lose 2 of the 3 matches? Upset stomach? Or the No. 1 test team as the opposition? All this crap about dead pitches is just that. Crap. Nobody says anything if one such dead pitch surfaces anywhere else in the world.

  • POSTED BY JoeGilly on | December 11, 2009, 12:07 GMT

    After the 2007 World cup and after the ICC moved its HQ to Dubai, cricket became a business with India its main customer. Control your main customer and control your business. When ICC wanted launch T20 and make its more popular, India won the T20 world cup. Now when ICC wants to boost Test cricket, India becomes the no.1 test nation. This is what's too much of a coincidence. Not having URDS and becoming no.1 in the manner they won the last test, is even more of a coincidence. I fear for the 2011 world cup, hope it is not fixed.

  • POSTED BY apyboutit on | December 11, 2009, 12:06 GMT

    Here are a few probable reasons why some people tend to think that playing in India seems boring. Due to the slow nature of the pitches, the scoring rates slow down. Corollary is also true. Only if you score slow, (unless you are Viru), you can score enough and probably score only once. Like the Ozs of the 80s, 90 and early 2000s failed to understand, it is nearly impossible to score rapidly in these grounds. Scoring through 1s, 2s will sap you. Regular attempts at 4s will be unsafe & get you out. Teams that realized this (SF in 2007) reaped good benefits and scored tremendous amounts of runs. The heat also apparently slows down the game and even the commentators sound tired at times! Added to this, most Indian fans are only recently getting introduced to the concept of winning "at all levels". Their memories and psyche are still affected by the 80s and early 90s when the pitches were tailored to be sympathetic to the slowest bowlers. Today we have enough pacers to use fast tracks.

  • POSTED BY apyboutit on | December 11, 2009, 11:35 GMT

    Talking, again, about India pitches, India is the only place where I saw young Ponting clueless in 1998 and 2001 (even now), against quality spin, while VVS scored that top class 280. This is also where excellent players of spin, like Zaheer Abbas and A Flower have scored a plenty. An otherwise eventless Fowler and D Jones scored their dogged 200s. Straight 6s off spinners was perfected by Siddhu and Shastri. Dancing down the pitch to spinners was taught step-by-step to visitors. These were the pitches that marquee-d the specialists at wristy play, flicks, front foot drivers, glances, late cut, from India and all around the world. Thanks to these pitches, India remains the only team to have fielded a bowling attack of 4 -5 spinners!! Nowhere else has this happened/will happen. Celebrate this revolution as the WI did the pace quartet - which is now mimicked to dryness! Batsmen learned here that they can be made to grope below their knee, at flighted, slow spinning beauties! Celebrate!

  • POSTED BY V.GOMES on | December 11, 2009, 11:29 GMT

    What makes it difficult to tour India is not the SG balls, not the conditions/pitches favorable to India, nor Dhoni winning 90% of coin tosses. What smaller test nations like Sri Lanka and West Indies strugle most is with the umpiring. Umpires are worried that if they do not support the BCCI's of the world, then they will not get to umpire in major tournaments and tours (ie: loose their job). URDS for example, will protect smaller countries from umpires who support the larger countries (ie: BCCI which petty much controls ICC with their revenue streams). The test series between India & Sri Lanka AND the series between Australia & West Indies are perfect examples to that argument. See what happened to Dilshan and Chandrapaul. The benefit of the doubt must go to the batsman, NOT the larger country that has more say is the ICC. But I doubt URDS will ever get implemented because BCCI is benefiting from it.

  • POSTED BY davedave on | December 11, 2009, 11:26 GMT

    I don't agree with Mr. Harsha in just one point. As a captain Dravid was a crap and that was the reason he resigned his captacaincy within 1and half years. Having been the vice captain for Ganguly for almost 5 years he could have taken the team into the next level but failed very badly that was the history even as a player he struggled a lot due to captaincy burden and with the joker Chappell so called as a coach. But as a batsman, between 2001- 2005 he has become a greatest player for India. Iinnings like Trentbridge, Headingley and oval in 2002, against Australia in India 2001, Austraila series in 2003-04, Innings against South Africa 2002 and many home series during that period probably other players can only dream about it. Not to forget other outstanding contributions from Laxman, Sehwag, Kumble, never say die Ganguly both as a captain and player made wonders and not to forget other individuals who are not in the current squad, those inputs makes the current team no 1.

  • POSTED BY Percy_Fender on | December 11, 2009, 11:23 GMT

    I do not agree with Harsha Bhogle that the cupboard of fresh talent is bare in India. This view is only because we are looking for replacements to Tendulkar, Dravid , Laxman and Ganguly, all of whom have been such greats over the last two decades. It may be recalled that Dravid was not too successful on his first visit to Australia just as Sanjay Manjrekar was when he visited Australia the first time. I mention these two names because both of them are technically perfect and as close as one can get to the MCC coaching manual. Yet Rahul was the player of the series when he went there the next time in 2004. He had made the necessary adjustments necessary to succeed in Australia. Manjrekar was perhaps, more rigid for which reason he faded away surprisingly after so much was expected of him.Pujara, Vijay, Rahane,Harmeet Singh.K L Rahul,Abhimanyu Mithun and Shreyas Gopal could well be the big names of tomorrow. I believe the IPL and the TV coverage will contribute to their growth immensely.

  • POSTED BY iseven_7 on | December 11, 2009, 11:22 GMT

    There are more problems in playing in India...and that is their umpires . I think, Indian umpires are most one sided, even it is not there home. i can remember Bangladesh -India test series in Bangladesh back in 2007, just after the World cup. of 32-33 wickets of Bangladesh, umpires got 16-17 of them, if you don't belive me ask anyone who watched those games . In the other hand, clean caught behinds, pure LBWs were denied while India was batting. it is really a shame for Indian Umpires.

    please, do not take that i am opposing India's success . they are top of the world now, and it is their achievement.

    _i@7

  • POSTED BY yaseenk2002 on | December 11, 2009, 11:21 GMT

    @ all those who think India prepare flat pitches to win... as far as I know both the teams get the same wicket to bat on!! So how is it that India wins and others lose? I think without doubt India has the best batting order in the world and on the same wickets on which they scored 700 they managed to get opposition out twice and won by a huge margin! In second test against SL they even batted second. I think all this whining has to stop and India also has to beat SA an Aus to drive home a point...

  • POSTED BY Percy_Fender on | December 11, 2009, 11:02 GMT

    I agree with Harsha Bhogle that we Indians have not got used to giving the team credit when we win in India. This seems ridiculous in this day and age. The days when we used to have stark turning minefields and beat all visiting teams are in the past. That apart, players from South Africa, Australia West Indies and England play in India quite often either in the IPL or the regular tours which are far more frequent than earlier. As a result they are as comfortable or otherwise as their Indian counterparts in Indian conditions.For instance the Brabourne wicket used recently for the Sri Lankan test was quite similar to the one they have in Australia and South Africa. The problem is that we have cynics who belong to the earlier generation when our teams would flounder abroad and thrash everyone at home. It is their articulation that doeas not allow this attitude to go away.

  • POSTED BY Percy_Fender on | December 11, 2009, 11:02 GMT

    I agree with Harsha Bhogle that we Indians have not got used to giving the team credit when we win in India. This seems ridiculous in this day and age. The days when we used to have stark turning minefields and beat all visiting teams are in the past. That apart, players from South Africa, Australia West Indies and England play in India quite often either in the IPL or the regular tours which are far more frequent than earlier. As a result they are as comfortable or otherwise as their Indian counterparts in Indian conditions.For instance the Brabourne wicket used recently for the Sri Lankan test was quite similar to the one they have in Australia and South Africa. The problem is that we have cynics who belong to the earlier generation when our teams would flounder abroad and thrash everyone at home. It is their articulation that doeas not allow this attitude to go away.

  • POSTED BY apyboutit on | December 11, 2009, 11:00 GMT

    We also need to clarify about Sehwag's innings - in this home series. A real beauty! No one, except Sanga, scored easily after that on that pitch. Dhoni had to spend more than 20 overs to get used to its pace. Viru did that in just 20 balls. How many players do we know of, in any case, that have scored 6x200+ and 2x300+ by half of their careers?! Only one. Viru. This was no flat track. it required cricketing brilliance to get ~300. Just as it did to score 201 at Galle. He would have been revered like the Don or the King, in any era, had he been representing those countries-without murmurs or doubts from anywhere else. Just one match saving test 100 in Oz and ... "Duminy = Ponting"! But a subconti player has to prove everything, including 1 = 2, on earth and Mars, to be shyly accepted as a "Great" in the game. Most others (except Boycott!!) accept him. But thanks to the poorly analytical audience, he (and his mates) stands poorly evaluated by the many "guilty of wining" masses in India.

  • POSTED BY naveenkr on | December 11, 2009, 10:56 GMT

    I kinda feel that Irfan Pathan's name has been ignored in this article. He was like the senior pacer of India just before the revival of Zaheer Khan. He also increased the depth of batting line up by scoring brisk runs at more than a handy rate. He swung the ball better than anyone in world cricket at times and I do hope he will make a come back just as Zaheer did. I think the bowling line up for India playing tests outside India can be Irfan , Harbhajan, Zaheer , Sree/Ishant. This will ensure that they have swing, seam and real pace bowlers.

  • POSTED BY ITJOBSUCKS on | December 11, 2009, 10:42 GMT

    There are 2 Major series in the year 2010, which will decide which is the No.1 team in the world ? i.e Ind-SA series in India Feb-2010 & Ind-SA in SA in Dec-2010. So, after these 2 series, we can decide the No.1 @ Alexk400, You said Ponting wins matches under pressure & so on ... blah... . How come in last 2 years most of his hundred's or good innings are in losing cause ??? It's b'coz, Aus doesn't have bowling attack to take 20 wickets.

  • POSTED BY PienkZuit on | December 11, 2009, 10:42 GMT

    India's home winning record is because of their policy of preparing pitches to suit their team only. India would have lost the previous home series to South Africa if it wasn't for a shocking 3rd test pitch, prepared to last no more than 3 days and only suit their spinners. Kid yourself all you want, but India is not the no1 test team in the world, no matter what the rankings say. Only once they can win regularly away from home can they even be considered in the top 3. South Africa and Australia win away from home regularly, India don't.

  • POSTED BY apyboutit on | December 11, 2009, 10:41 GMT

    At last! An Indian journalist stood up as an Indian! Thanks for voicing the point about "winning at home". Now, for the "green tops" in India. Rational analysts will know that, at Indian temperatures, it is impossible to make a green top pitch in most grounds, like Chennai, Hyderabad, Jaipur, Ahmedabad, Kolkota, etc. Another point, in the 2nd and 3rd test, India scored 600+, but also got 20 wkts (>10 to seemers). SL could not, hence they lost. It is senseless to demean a 600+ score, scored @4.5/O. If any non Subconti team did that, they are seen as trend setters! BTW does anyone cry for a spinning track in Oz / Eng / SA? No! everyone accepts what is presented to them. In fact, spinning tracks cannot be made in these places so easily. Also, it will completely change their cricketing economics. so they wont. Instead, the likes of Crowe go around the world, proposing that all pitches should be green & deteriorating like theirs. Give me a break! Enough! Lets move on with the game now.

  • POSTED BY sandeeprevi on | December 11, 2009, 10:01 GMT

    I agree with harsha on the fact that too big an issue is being made about india winning tests in india but it is also a fact that in india we do have some real docile pitches that make the competition between bat and ball a bit uneven.Why india win the matches at home(besides the dull draws) is because we have a good fast bowlers these days and also good spinners in harbhjan and ojha and mishra.Its not the indians fault that overseas teams do not have such good spinners to make the best use of the conditions in india(example SA and AUS).If india were said to be poor overseas cause of lack of good pacemen earlier in the decade then same applies to aussies and south africans for not being able to produce good spinners to use the conditions in subcontinent(after shane warnes retirment).Nobody seems to take a note on that.As for recently concluded srilanka series...the 2 matches india won were on sporting tracks but made to look docile is cause of good batting by sehwag and co.

  • POSTED BY India-champs on | December 11, 2009, 9:55 GMT

    I do agree that we have flat pitches in India. But we have to look at the bright side and admire our bowler who had shown great skills to take 20 wickets in test matches against Australia and Srilanka. The flat tracks are not only for India but also for their visiting opponents. Sporting pitches are always good for the game and we do see some good test match pitches in India although not as frequently as we would like to see. Defination of a good pitch is that a pitch which produces results and recently we do get results in test matches in India. Our batting has been outstanding and hats off to Zaheer Khan, Ishant Sharma, Sreeshant, Bhajji and at times RP Singh for their outstanding performances.

  • POSTED BY TheDoctor394 on | December 11, 2009, 9:38 GMT

    Very good article. Here in Australia, I've heard so much "well, they got those runs/wins on dead pitches over there", amidst other complaints of countries preparing pitches to suit their players, conveniently forgetting what they do here. I'm still not convinced India is the best at the moment, but they certainly deserve many accolades from the way they've been playing lately. And, while certainly "dead" pitches are a concern, we should remember that India did beat Sri Lanka in the second and third tests just played. Convincingly.

  • POSTED BY CricketMaan on | December 11, 2009, 9:34 GMT

    To put it simple India deserves the No 1 status, does not matter if its 1 wk, 1 mth or 1 yr. Its only natural for Westerners to dismiss our status, afterall its they who owned, ran it for decades, this new found ephuorism about Inida in every walk of life is always going to have critics, detractors, but that can never diminish our achievements. Yes we have a long way to go, be it Cricket or Development, it all begins somewhere and spare a thought we are a billion nation...never easy..you can't be good to all..

  • POSTED BY DrDeepakSitaramHiwale on | December 11, 2009, 9:30 GMT

    Hey, buddy, that is the best piece of writing I have come across in a long long time...You have summed up the present Indian cricket scenario aptly. And in the process also put in place those doubting Thomases who have undermined India's rating citing a number of flimsy reasons. And it please me to see a media person come out and give the Indian the credit when it deserves. I mean, look at the Australian media, the way they support their players...you would have thought they were the best players in the world...I mean, comparing Ponting with Sachin or Lara comes to mind...you just had to watch Ponting play an 18 year old Ishant to make up your mind..as to where Ponting ranks in comparison to Sachin. Even the great Wasim Akram wan't able to do that to Sachin, even when he was just sixteen and something... Kudos to you, Harsha...and thanks to people like you, Sunil Bhai and Ravi Shastri that the Indian media can face up to the World (read Australian) media. Keep up the good work Guys !!

  • POSTED BY tfjones1978 on | December 11, 2009, 9:26 GMT

    Ullas_79 & IndiaGoats, climate conditions affect matches considerable. Playing in hot & humid when not use to it is much different then playing in chilli conditions when not use to it. Its scientific fact! In hot & humid, the body overheats easier and the muscles burn out much quicker. Playing in chilli conditions forces a player to move about allowing for faster movement and more sustained efforts. I also noticed that of the 39 comments passed so far (excluding my previous comments that was not allowed in) that everyone has the same opinion. Curious that an article this contriversal only gets response from one side of the debate. Lets hope some other points of view are allowed in to show the different views people in the world have.

  • POSTED BY strokedthroughthecovers on | December 11, 2009, 9:24 GMT

    Do Indian players get sick when they travel outside of India or the sub continent? I'm interested to know, because it's not just the heat and dead pitches that cause visiting teams to struggle in India - many foreign players get sick because they're not accustomed to the food etc. It must be horrible to have to perform at an elite level when suffering stomch bugs and cramps. Indian have some great players, but the impression that they are flat track bullies is still well-founded. No one wants to watch India win on pitches that are so much in favour of the batsman.

  • POSTED BY arup_g on | December 11, 2009, 9:24 GMT

    Whether its home or away, India have played good enough cricket to be awarded the number 1 slot in tests. We have moved away from the typical test team in the 80s and 90s which relied heavy on spin and developed top quality seam bowlers in Zaheer, Ishant, Sreesanth, RP Singh and Munaf. The next test for India is to develop a middle order that can take over the likes of VVS, Sachin and Dravid. Murali Vijay looks set to replace one of them, and will probably bat at 4, but who will replace number 4 and 5? Rohit doesn't look like he is bothered at times and Raina is too much of a ODI player. Badrinath has a terrific record in first class cricket and should definetly be given his due against Bangladesh. Otherwise, Well done India for doing so well in the past few years...Credit goes mostly to Ganguly for starting the revolution and Dhoni for continuing it without being beaten..yet! Good Luck!

  • POSTED BY bijusportsfan on | December 11, 2009, 9:23 GMT

    @cook : What you said about Australia is right BUT in the past. Ranking reflect current form, period. When Australia did well at home and away they were No:1 but unfortunately they havent done that recently. In the last 2 series Australia LOST away series to England and India and LOST home series to South Africa.

    To those who are crying about Indians away performances, please check the results of the last couple of years which the ranking is reflecting. India have won last test series IN England, NZ and West Indies away. When they lost to SA and Australia, the margin was narrow as they won atleast one test. Mind you, ranking take into consideration wins and not just series wins. Re: SA being no:1. Well, they were No:1 recently, based on their performance and I quiet agree. They beat Australia away BUT unfortunately they LOST home series against Australia. If they cant even win at home against top teams how are their No:1 ranking justified?

  • POSTED BY Philip_Gnana on | December 11, 2009, 9:21 GMT

    Well, I am a bit surprised at the title of this write-up. I have not come across any hype of Inda's home wins rather the contrary that Sri Lanka's home record has been that has been hyped up by the Indian media and have been rather prejudiced too in their opinion of SL. It will be a shame if a country cannot have a good home record considering the fact that they have the ability to prepare pitches to the needs of the home team. MS Dhoni has been an excellent captain and has lead the Indian Team exceptionally well. He has been level headed too and not trying play mind games as the recent opposing team captain. It makes a change to see an Asian team at the top. Quite rightly said..staying there is the another matter. India has a unit that can do that and hope they will win more of the away games an consolidate their position - games permitting. Makes a change. Well done Inida. Philip Gnana, New Malden, Surrey.

  • POSTED BY Maverick23 on | December 11, 2009, 9:02 GMT

    Not sure why Indians and rest of the world feel that BCCI should have fast pitches like the Wanderers or Perth. Why should we when our strentgth is spinning tracks? Does a Australia or SA or England have spinning tracks? No they dont. Because they are confident playing and defeating countries on fast tracks so why wont we do the same? Besides why do we complain because India has a better record playing at home. Did we ever complain when Australia never won a test match in India for so long (till 2004)? Did we say that Aussies are not No 1 because they did not win in India? We should rest these debates once and for all. Besides India has started winning both home and away now, except in Australia and SA (though they have won matches but not series). But who cares. That might be our final frontier as India was for Steve Waugh but he could never win out here.

  • POSTED BY Parth_Pala on | December 11, 2009, 8:59 GMT

    Firstly, the question of flat tracks. Are these not the same flat tracks on which England , Australia and Sri Lanka respectively and considering these were the last three series I'd hardly call te pitches flat, its not our fault the only nation which can consistently reverse swing the ball is India and therefore take advantage of these so called flat tracks. Or the fact people call our pitches dust bowls. So what? Is it our fault Aussies , Saffas and English can't play spin? Or are you saying spin is a lower form of bowling and every pitch should be green and seaming like the ones in England. Of course it doesn't matter because India beat England in England something which the Aussies couldn't do. And we beat NZ , and would have drawn Australia at minimum if Bucknor hadn't had his worse test ever. So unless teams can come and draw out games then they can call our tracks flat. Its either flat tracks / batsmen outside India are pathetic, or proper pitches. You choose.

  • POSTED BY PrameshP on | December 11, 2009, 8:59 GMT

    Harsha, great article - Precisely summarizing the real story behind the story! Agreed that this is not the all time best team - there is a scope of improvement in bowling as you mentioned and certainly fielding, but you cannot take away anything from this team that fought very well all over the world and is awesome at home! They deserve to be #1 and real challenge is to stay there longer.

  • POSTED BY Gottawearshades on | December 11, 2009, 8:50 GMT

    I agree with almost everything in the article. But how is beating NZ in NZ an achievement when the BCCI picked our team?

  • POSTED BY nav_blitzzzz on | December 11, 2009, 8:26 GMT

    It is the flat tracks that make test cricket in India boring and it is least surprising that many cricketers and fans(including myself) consider test cricket in India sub standard. I would rather wake up at 4 in the morning to watch a New Zealand vs Pakistan test match rather than a test in India. I am an Indian.

  • POSTED BY Jaikaran on | December 11, 2009, 8:24 GMT

    Absolutely the correct perspective. The English, Kiwis, Australia all have good records at home as well. So why should India, Pakistan and Sri Lanka be different. I guess it's quite difficult for the English and the Australians to stomach. It is the same as to how many Test matches India, Pakistan and Sri Lanka get to play when they travel to England! There is still some prejudice left in World Cricket even though the bulk of the sposorship money comes from The Indian Sub Continent!

  • POSTED BY Farce-Follower on | December 11, 2009, 8:11 GMT

    At last an article that acknowledges the contribution of Rahul Dravid and Anil Kumble as captains. A visitor from outer space would think that just Ganguly and Dhoni got us here. This is the danger for India. Flamboyance and sound over substance. I think for another 10 years we will continue to view Yuvraj or Raina as promising youngsters and deprive genuine contenders - Pujara and Badri - of a place in the Indian team.

  • POSTED BY Monishjoshy on | December 11, 2009, 8:09 GMT

    Winning matches within India will not subside the relevance because of 'flat and spinning pitches' or 'humid , extreme temperature and docile nature of pitches'. Nevertheless it would have been better for Indian cricket if B.C.C.I construct 'greenish, fast and bouncing pitches' like Melbourne and Wanderers. Fortunately India improved in all formats of the Game. Unlike 1970's , 80's and 90's , Now Indian batsmen encounter fast bowlers without any fear. S.Tendulkar, V.Sewag, G.Gambhir, Yuvraj, Dhoni, s.Raina encounter fast bowlers with ease. But what helped the Indian cricket to win matches oversees is only because of the emergence of good fast bowlers. Our Fast bowlers helped us to win matches in the best fast bowling pitches like Wanderers, Melbourne and Perth. India won the 1st T20 world cup in South Africa. Irfan Pathan and Sreesanth has the best bowling averages abroad , followed by Zaheer Khan. Irfan took 73 wickets abroad,Sreesanth grabbed 37 wickets from just 9 matches

  • POSTED BY TheTrueMaster on | December 11, 2009, 8:07 GMT

    Well said Harsha! It made for an excellent reading. Infact, it is very good for cricket I feel. We were very tired seeing the same team at top all the time. Everyone wants to reap the home advantage. And as a matter of fact they all do. I have seen Indian players feeling in sea on bouncy tracks and I have also seen South Africans dealing with spin in India as an English speaking man will deal with Japanese. The stupendous batting talent we have been having since a decade is phenomenal. Talent when amalgamated with a sense of purpose and confidence makes for a winning formula. And I see the Indian team putting effort to crack this formula and putting more feathers in their hat. And for the critics who have doubt about the fact that whether India truly "deserves" this rank or not, I would express no surprise as there is nothing unnatural about a king feeling caustic and agitated after a coup by them, whom he still thinks of as..."commoners".

  • POSTED BY evenflow_1990 on | December 11, 2009, 7:22 GMT

    in my opinion, india are the number one team in the world. just looking at their batting lineup gives me the shivers. i'm sri lankan, and although we just won the t20, there is no doubt in my mind india are number one (the test matches proved that in no uncertain terms), although i think that this is largely on their batting strength. if india could build a stronger bowling line up, i reckon india will be number one in all forms of the game for many years to come.

  • POSTED BY vik56in on | December 11, 2009, 7:18 GMT

    I had expected a more clear and direct response from Harsha about the devaluation of Test cricket by India.There is a more direct threat to Indian cricket by not playing Test matches. Bowlers will soon lose the art of wicket taking ability content will delivering only dot balls. No future Indian youngster will ever want to learn batting like Dravid because there isn't a career for that type of batting.Future batsmen will be more busy with swings ,swings and more misses.

  • POSTED BY skkh on | December 11, 2009, 7:15 GMT

    Well Mr Bhogle..you have missed the point. If you have seen the India/SL matches the scores of 700 and above made us all go to sleep. Dead pitches like these will kill cricket and drive the spectators away. At the same time if you have followed the recent Ashes series and the tests in Australia or in South africa for that matter.. there is a competition between the bat and ball whereas here in India there is nothing of that sort. I love the cricket in Australia and mind you I am an Indian and whenever I am in Australia I love to go and watch all the matches played at WACA including the state games where there is a competition going on unlike here in India.

  • POSTED BY SatyajitM on | December 11, 2009, 7:00 GMT

    Spot on Harsha! We didn't hear too many people grumbling about the rating system when SA became the no1 team. If it is flawed, it has been so from the beginning. The argument some people put forward that the no1 team should win in every other nation is flawed as well. By that logic Steve Waugh's outfit was never a champion team. What a joke! Every team wins more at home. And India has fared quite well overseas this decade. India should be proud but at the same time should not go overboard. The fact that India is playing better test cricket than limited over is because they have a more settled outfit for the longer version. Also, somebody like Sehwag plays better in test than in limited version. It is good for the health of world cricket that there is good competition for the no1 spot and at least three teams are within striking distance. I see test cricket is in good health and it's only in the mind of some people (including Indians) that it is dying.

  • POSTED BY AB99 on | December 11, 2009, 6:44 GMT

    We won at home because we adjusted to the conditions better than the opponents. The visitor spinners including the greats like Warne, Murali could not do much damage to our batsman whereas our spinners created havoc against the opponets. The world sees a blind eye to the lack of adaptabilty of Pontings, Smiths, Husseys, KPs, etc to win matches for their teams in India. How can you call them great ... if they fail this test. The article has no mention of the Sachins, Laxmans and Harbhajans in the success and the road to the top. How many times has Laxman dropped anchor curbed his natural instinct for strokeplay and ressurected the innings, not mention of match winning and match saving efforts of Sachin, Gambhir and Shewag, no mention (despite loss of form) that Harbhajan held fort as the front line spinner in the team ...

  • POSTED BY cook on | December 11, 2009, 6:42 GMT

    India is very tough to beat at home, but they also have to learn to win away from home. They are getting better at doing that, but they still have a very poor record in other countries. It's for this reason why questions will always be raised with regards to India. Countries like Australia have an awesome record at home, but also a very good record away from home to.

  • POSTED BY Subra on | December 11, 2009, 6:37 GMT

    Congrats to Team India. A change at the top is good for cricket - but unless the authoritties ensure that India play more test matches, the stay at the top may be short-lioved. I hope the authorities wake up and give Test matches their due - of course the T20s will get more revenue - just like the McDonalds make money - but do Boards have a duty to preserve Tests - I believe they do and it is people like Harsha who must persuade them to give more emphasis - allow school children free entry to Test matches and get the young to appreciate cricket in the real not the instant version. Harsha, you are in a privileged position to push for more Tests for India. Siva from Singapore

  • POSTED BY jamrith on | December 11, 2009, 6:34 GMT

    Well said, Harsha, but Tests are on the way out so we really need to play much better in the other verions of the game becuse they are the ones that hold so-called World Cups which attract attention; after all, no one remembers rankings but we always remeber india winning ODI WC in 1983 and T20 WC in 2007. In this context, our performance in the Dec 9 T20 in Nagpur was pathetic

  • POSTED BY HLANGL on | December 11, 2009, 6:20 GMT

    These days, unlike few years back, test cricket is more balanced, mainly because no single team is monopolizing the crown. All three teams, India, South Aftrica & Australia have pretty much equal chances, so they deserve to be at the top. The rankings will fluctuate among them based on the matches available to each & how well they perform in them, but as of now, there's very little to select between these 3 teams. Few years bcak it was not the case, & there were no guesses regarding the fact that who's superior. From late 70s to mid 90s it was West Indies, no guesses required. From 2000/2001 to 2007, the Australians were extraordinary & pretty much invincible 95% of the time except for a handful of hiccups. Now with no such mighty & dominant single team around, all three top teams can be considered to be pretty much in par.

  • POSTED BY drshiv on | December 11, 2009, 6:04 GMT

    Great article Harsha, I am a great admirer of your clarity of thinking and willingness to speak the truth. Having lived in both India and Australia, I have seen the respect of the Australian people (the few who actually follow cricket rather than rugby or Aussie football!) for players like Sachin and Dravid. I feel it is only a few past players who tend to downplay the quality efforts of the Indian team. The other thing which I wanted to add is that in my opinion Manish Pandey is another player who definitely deserves to be considered in the future scheme of things along with M Vijay and Pujara

  • POSTED BY paramthegreat on | December 11, 2009, 5:54 GMT

    Harsha, there is nothing wrong with india winning in India ,but surely there is something wrong in the pitches favouring the home side haphazardly. The toss makes it a one sided contest and to an extent undermines the true worth of the competition. Eg: India vs Aus , india won 2-0, both times India won the toss, India vs SL, again india won the toss in 2nd match and the 3rd match , well, the third match was similar to "the sydney match of 2008"( full of umpiring blunders). While pitches in Aus, SA, eng favour the pace and seam bowlers, our pace bowlers have done much beter in recent times on those pitches. So why cant we have sporting pitches that our bowlers can exploit too rather than having dustbowls? And why cant the BCCI and ECB get Kookaboora balls rather than SG and Duke which would minimise the disadvantage for touring sides?

    Overall, India did work extremely hard to get to top and i always give credit where it is due. Well done team India and keep winning!!!:)

  • POSTED BY maddy_cric on | December 11, 2009, 5:25 GMT

    superbly written as always..but I feel India must try cementing this place by doing what I believe is the most difficult task.. beating Australia down under (time to forget SCG 2008) and South Africa in SA. We have often won one test in the series and failed to win the series. Its a pity that we don't play these teams soon enough and often. The hallmark of Australia's reign was their dominance of teams home and away. If India is able to do that over the next 2-3 years, there's no reason why they cant be the best going around!

  • POSTED BY Alexk400 on | December 11, 2009, 5:22 GMT

    I mildly disagree with who is number 1. I think it is clearly south africa. India beat only aussies at home and lost away and drawn south africa at home and lost to SA away. South africa beat aussies at home and lost to aussies at home and beat India at home and drawn India away.

    Based on that South africa is quiet clearly number 1 until india beat south africa either at home or away.

    Ranking system is failed in this case. India has to beat top 2 teams either home or away then only india can be number 1. This accumation of point is not really make india number 1. It is like sachin is greatest batsman based on his accumulation stats. The best ever batsman who play well under pressure and take his team to win because of his sole contribution. That would be Ponting.

    That said India is proven it is top quality team by winning many away series past few years. To be india to be real number 1 in the world eyes or through my eye , it need to produce True fast bowler. It has batting.

  • POSTED BY ari_d_invincible on | December 11, 2009, 5:20 GMT

    great take Harsha ..this is the kind of stuff that indians need to look at .

  • POSTED BY AHappyMind on | December 11, 2009, 5:16 GMT

    Yes India are probably the best team in the world right now: please play a best of 3 series against SA to confirm that. I think India can beat them. Although its a bit alarming about how they play in T20 and ODI's: I reckon SA and SL are better teams in such formats..

  • POSTED BY ghost123 on | December 11, 2009, 5:03 GMT

    harsha bhogle is on the spot as usual. ASK Ricky P, steve waugh, graeme smith and many others who have toured India and they will no doubt acknowledge that beating India is as difficult away as it is at home after 2000 onwards. Cynics who talk about India being a lion at home and sheepish abroad are generally people who played the game long back when probably it was correct. They need to get intuned to present stats which show a very even distribution h& a. Indian pitches too are never tailor made except a couple of times, unlike srilanka where everything is done to aid murali.

  • POSTED BY IndiaGoats on | December 11, 2009, 5:01 GMT

    Good article and while it is good to debate whether India is truly #1 (I think SA is still the one to beat) or one among the top 3, no one can deny the Indians the sweat and effort expended to reach this position.

    To tfjones1978, this again sounds like whining. It is true that "Australia, England or SA rarely get 40-50 degree Celcius conditions", but the reverse is also true. Teams from the subcontinent rarely get the cold English weather or the windy NZ conditions at home. It is as much a struggle for them as it is for the visitors to India. Again, this is the same argument as saying Aus, SA, England struggle on the spinning wickets in India - so too does India struggle with the bouncy and seamy wickets abroad. A true champion wins under all conditions.

    I think the differences (bouncy abroad, flat at home, windy in NZ, etc..) are what makes test cricket so interesting and challenging.

  • POSTED BY CricFan78 on | December 11, 2009, 4:44 GMT

    Fantastic retort Harsha to all those detractors mainly English like Boycott, Simon Wilde. Its amazing why these people dont worry about their own team built on South African imports and an outdated county system. There will always be some who would never appreciate Indian team but for now we are no. 1 and its a nice little milestone for all the hard work Indian team has put across. The next step as you say is to extend this reign and win elsewhere in SA and Aus. And isnt it amazing that SA's only series win in India was marred by match fixing controversy and Aus's only series win in India in last 4 yrs was against weak Indian team without Sachin and Kumble, not to forget the rain saving them in Chennai.

  • POSTED BY Ullas_79 on | December 11, 2009, 4:38 GMT

    Nice Article Harsha. I have always had this problem of people de-valuating wins in India. I think Kumble once made it a point to mention it strongly in his press conference. As for the comments from tfjones1978, climatic conditions are different in various countries but it is not easy for people from India to play in chilli weather in England, NZ etc (Also with strong winds and so on)...So thats a difference you will experience when you go around touring around the world and as professional cricketers, they are supposed to overcome that and indeed if needed have a good acclimatization process before they start the tour (I remember that Aussies do it consistently before tours in India). So you cant just get away with saying India wins in India because of heat and humidity. India were poor travelers before mainly because it didn't have a pace attack to trouble the hosts and thats changing now with a good crop of fast bowlers and thats why you see India winning in Perth and Wanderers.

  • POSTED BY sramesh_74 on | December 11, 2009, 4:26 GMT

    Good piece of writing. While the competency of Asian teams is measured based on their performances in Aus/Eng/SA, the same does not apply for teams that tour India. How does one react to that?? India does not produce the dust bowls that were the order of the day in Azhar/Wadekar era...These are good wickets and India has done extremely well to in the last couple of years at home. Harsha, you have forgotten a cetain Badrinath...what more does this guy have to do? All he can do is continue to get the big runs and wait for one of the Big Three to call it a day.

  • POSTED BY Santhosh3186 on | December 11, 2009, 4:21 GMT

    Good one Harsha. I am a follower of u and Cricinfo. Well said.

  • POSTED BY Mina_Anand on | December 11, 2009, 3:57 GMT

    As a result of intense midnight burning activity by the powers-that-be, we are emitting the wrong signals. Reckless scheduling will lead to burn outs, and therefore to heated debates. How to save Test Matches in a 20-20 environment ? No talks - that's just hot air swirling around.. Some 'experts' have come up with a formula to 'save test cricket' - by proposing a three-day format instead. Which is ridiculous - it's like re-cycling the T-20 game. We want the pure and original version, any day. The 'Mina Protocol' says: "Just let things be. No cuts in the five-day game. No cutbacks. No 'flexibility'. Stick to the tried and tested formula of 'glorious uncertainties…..and….. Unilaterally increase the number of Test Matches by 100 per cent - by 2020 !

  • POSTED BY Mina_Anand on | December 11, 2009, 3:56 GMT

    Talking about 'summits' and 'climate' change, our rivals must be going green. India has always had great test players and the past ten years has seen us grow into a winning unit, at home and abroad. I would say Sunny Gavaskar set the tone - with his sunspots - of magnetic activity. The Fab Five, led by Ganguly - took us forward in a big way. They created the atmosphere of self-belief and aggression. Dada had his own style. No carbon cut of any cricketer ! Now with MSD and his men, we are really warming to the task. With Viru and Sachin notching up the non-metric tons ! But no polluting the pristine format of the game. Youngsters nowadays, are attracted to CFCs - 'Cricket for Cash'. We can't have the next generation pay for current excesses. Nor can we afford to let Test Cricket relegate to fossil status. Contd...

  • POSTED BY SimonSpliff on | December 11, 2009, 3:45 GMT

    Completey agree with the points of view here, India prepare flat spinning wickets because that suits their style of play (although that first test was unfortunately far too flat but that's another issue.). This is just the same as Australia preparing hard bouncy fast wickets and us English producing ones that seam and swing. Home advantage is so important. I do hear the words "post-colonial envy" far too much from Indians for my liking though. As an Englishmen I really don't think a longing for the British Empire is a reason for any de-valuing of India's very fine achievement, but maybe that's a little naivity. Well done to India, although your problem now is holding onto this. I believe all the top 5 test teams can win against any other at home and the top three are very close. Also India may have a problem finding test playing youngsters to replace the middle order, and of course India are playing so few tests. For now though, congrats.

  • POSTED BY manasvi_lingam on | December 11, 2009, 3:40 GMT

    A fairly well-balanced article Harsha. However, there is no need to go over the top just now. India have barely scaled the No.1 summit, and one never knows for how long they'll reside there. As for future players, I believe that in place of the Big Three, the right people to come in are Rahane, Pujara and Badrinath. I'm also in favour of replacing the inconsistent Yuvraj with Vijay. It should make for a good batting line-up. There are three positions that India need to look for immediately: 1) A good finger spinner 2) A fast bowler who can bowl in the 140's consistently 3) And most importantly, in place of Yuvraj a batting all-rounder. (4 bowlers don't always do the trick)

  • POSTED BY Mina_Anand on | December 11, 2009, 3:32 GMT

    Spot on Harsha, as usual !

    I've always wondered why wins on Indian pitches are rubbished as 'dead' wins on "lifeless pitches" - and that Indian cricketers 'pile up their runs' and 'stats' in batsmen-friendly environment.

    Why don't foreign teams come to India and gorge on Indian hospitality - in every way !

    Incidentally, if my cricketing knowledge is right, don't Tendulkar and Dravid have the best 'away' record in international cricket?

    And yes, we must not forget the visionary leaders of Indian Cricket - past and present.

  • POSTED BY JogeshPanda on | December 11, 2009, 3:26 GMT

    Once Again Nice article Harsha. Ranking is again some stats but the quality of cricket played over last few years is unquestionable.Nice to see you mentioned Rahul Dravid contributions as captain, both away series win in caribean and english soil had a huge impact. We are still far away from a world conquering side but as of now in world cricket we got some of the best. Not only wins it is resilience that has been new blood in Indian cricket. From a situations where crumbling down was a known trait for Indians, we have survived a few and won some. Napier,Ahmedabad,Banglore, Adelaide 2008 we survived scar and hold draw. Chennai victory last year set the foot in the paddle for a numero uno team. Challenges are ahead, need to replace some big shoes in batting, even Kumble's successor is yet to be crowned but when failures calls for mayhem in this country, this success calls for Cherish victories. Also include Dighes bangars agarkars for their once in a life time role in the journey

  • POSTED BY Cricism on | December 11, 2009, 3:19 GMT

    Harsha, great article - Precisely summarizing the real story behind the story! Agreed that this is not the all time best team - there is a scope of improvement in bowling as you mentioned and certainly fielding, but you cannot take away anything from this team that fought very well all over the world and is awesome at home! They deserve to be #1 and real challenge is to stay there longer.

  • POSTED BY TMS8137 on | December 11, 2009, 3:09 GMT

    And don't forget Badrinath who should be the next batsman in the team due to his record and don't hold his age against him.

  • POSTED BY TMS8137 on | December 11, 2009, 3:07 GMT

    Its always sad to see people devalue the performances of India at home. This could attributed due to our colonial past. Even Srilanka and Pakistan are formidable teams at home. people bring up numbers saying "that so-and-so averages so mush more at home than away. Thats because the wickets are flat and so conducive to spin." My question is that if a batsman is brought up throughout his life on seaming tracks will he logically be better equipped to face seam bowling than spin? That is the reason for home advantage you have to play to your teams strengths. The same reason why India will prepare a spinning track when australia visit and a track like kanpur when Srilanka visit. Please do not the talent required to play spin bowling which is equally if not more difficult than playing the fast bowlers.

  • POSTED BY dyogesh on | December 11, 2009, 3:05 GMT

    Harsha, spot on about the denial part. Nobody complains that Australia doctors pitches at Perth or Brisbane when it bounces around but why so when it spins in Kanpur or Mumbai ? India has got to the top by the same system as everybody else and they deserve some credit for it. There is no clear cut No:1 and it shows in the rankings too. That will be the way it is going to be. Timely wins are going to take any of India, SA or Aus to no:1. They might not deserve to be no:1 for long but do deserve it for that short period they are. And Indian seamers role has been grossly underestimated in the victories. Both Aus & SL seemed resgined for a draw when Zaheer, Ishanth and Sreesanth intervened gloriously at crucial times.

  • POSTED BY MakeNoMistake on | December 11, 2009, 2:54 GMT

    Well said Harsha, at last a sane view on India's number 1 ranking. When Steve Waugh's side failed to win a test series in India everyone said that was just a blemish and the Australian were the best. So why these double standards now?

  • POSTED BY BurningBright on | December 11, 2009, 2:53 GMT

    brilliant article Harsha as usual..I have enjoyed reading every article you have written and your shows on TV..Please keep writing and being the voice that you are..

  • POSTED BY Gizza on | December 11, 2009, 2:44 GMT

    Spot on Harsha. the other countries are whining about how India prepares "flat, batting" pitches and only has talented batting but no real bowling firepower. Um hold on? You become No. 1 in ICC Rankings or any other ranking system by winning matches, not drawing. And to win Tests you need to take 20 wickets.

    And who are getting most of these wickets at home and away? The spinners or the fast bowlers? Hmm, talk about a huge inferioty complex.

    This is not to say India are truly No. 1 yet. By holding on it for a couple of years (which is hard because of lack of Tests) they can truly claim to be No 1. Also by creating a gap of 10 points or more like Australia did between the second nation, you could also declare yourself No 1. But geez everyone else is so jealous that India is one of the top 3 teams currently in the world. So why isn't India allowed to whinge about Perth or Lords or the Wanderers? Wain a minute India won at these grounds! :P

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  • POSTED BY Gizza on | December 11, 2009, 2:44 GMT

    Spot on Harsha. the other countries are whining about how India prepares "flat, batting" pitches and only has talented batting but no real bowling firepower. Um hold on? You become No. 1 in ICC Rankings or any other ranking system by winning matches, not drawing. And to win Tests you need to take 20 wickets.

    And who are getting most of these wickets at home and away? The spinners or the fast bowlers? Hmm, talk about a huge inferioty complex.

    This is not to say India are truly No. 1 yet. By holding on it for a couple of years (which is hard because of lack of Tests) they can truly claim to be No 1. Also by creating a gap of 10 points or more like Australia did between the second nation, you could also declare yourself No 1. But geez everyone else is so jealous that India is one of the top 3 teams currently in the world. So why isn't India allowed to whinge about Perth or Lords or the Wanderers? Wain a minute India won at these grounds! :P

  • POSTED BY BurningBright on | December 11, 2009, 2:53 GMT

    brilliant article Harsha as usual..I have enjoyed reading every article you have written and your shows on TV..Please keep writing and being the voice that you are..

  • POSTED BY MakeNoMistake on | December 11, 2009, 2:54 GMT

    Well said Harsha, at last a sane view on India's number 1 ranking. When Steve Waugh's side failed to win a test series in India everyone said that was just a blemish and the Australian were the best. So why these double standards now?

  • POSTED BY dyogesh on | December 11, 2009, 3:05 GMT

    Harsha, spot on about the denial part. Nobody complains that Australia doctors pitches at Perth or Brisbane when it bounces around but why so when it spins in Kanpur or Mumbai ? India has got to the top by the same system as everybody else and they deserve some credit for it. There is no clear cut No:1 and it shows in the rankings too. That will be the way it is going to be. Timely wins are going to take any of India, SA or Aus to no:1. They might not deserve to be no:1 for long but do deserve it for that short period they are. And Indian seamers role has been grossly underestimated in the victories. Both Aus & SL seemed resgined for a draw when Zaheer, Ishanth and Sreesanth intervened gloriously at crucial times.

  • POSTED BY TMS8137 on | December 11, 2009, 3:07 GMT

    Its always sad to see people devalue the performances of India at home. This could attributed due to our colonial past. Even Srilanka and Pakistan are formidable teams at home. people bring up numbers saying "that so-and-so averages so mush more at home than away. Thats because the wickets are flat and so conducive to spin." My question is that if a batsman is brought up throughout his life on seaming tracks will he logically be better equipped to face seam bowling than spin? That is the reason for home advantage you have to play to your teams strengths. The same reason why India will prepare a spinning track when australia visit and a track like kanpur when Srilanka visit. Please do not the talent required to play spin bowling which is equally if not more difficult than playing the fast bowlers.

  • POSTED BY TMS8137 on | December 11, 2009, 3:09 GMT

    And don't forget Badrinath who should be the next batsman in the team due to his record and don't hold his age against him.

  • POSTED BY Cricism on | December 11, 2009, 3:19 GMT

    Harsha, great article - Precisely summarizing the real story behind the story! Agreed that this is not the all time best team - there is a scope of improvement in bowling as you mentioned and certainly fielding, but you cannot take away anything from this team that fought very well all over the world and is awesome at home! They deserve to be #1 and real challenge is to stay there longer.

  • POSTED BY JogeshPanda on | December 11, 2009, 3:26 GMT

    Once Again Nice article Harsha. Ranking is again some stats but the quality of cricket played over last few years is unquestionable.Nice to see you mentioned Rahul Dravid contributions as captain, both away series win in caribean and english soil had a huge impact. We are still far away from a world conquering side but as of now in world cricket we got some of the best. Not only wins it is resilience that has been new blood in Indian cricket. From a situations where crumbling down was a known trait for Indians, we have survived a few and won some. Napier,Ahmedabad,Banglore, Adelaide 2008 we survived scar and hold draw. Chennai victory last year set the foot in the paddle for a numero uno team. Challenges are ahead, need to replace some big shoes in batting, even Kumble's successor is yet to be crowned but when failures calls for mayhem in this country, this success calls for Cherish victories. Also include Dighes bangars agarkars for their once in a life time role in the journey

  • POSTED BY Mina_Anand on | December 11, 2009, 3:32 GMT

    Spot on Harsha, as usual !

    I've always wondered why wins on Indian pitches are rubbished as 'dead' wins on "lifeless pitches" - and that Indian cricketers 'pile up their runs' and 'stats' in batsmen-friendly environment.

    Why don't foreign teams come to India and gorge on Indian hospitality - in every way !

    Incidentally, if my cricketing knowledge is right, don't Tendulkar and Dravid have the best 'away' record in international cricket?

    And yes, we must not forget the visionary leaders of Indian Cricket - past and present.

  • POSTED BY manasvi_lingam on | December 11, 2009, 3:40 GMT

    A fairly well-balanced article Harsha. However, there is no need to go over the top just now. India have barely scaled the No.1 summit, and one never knows for how long they'll reside there. As for future players, I believe that in place of the Big Three, the right people to come in are Rahane, Pujara and Badrinath. I'm also in favour of replacing the inconsistent Yuvraj with Vijay. It should make for a good batting line-up. There are three positions that India need to look for immediately: 1) A good finger spinner 2) A fast bowler who can bowl in the 140's consistently 3) And most importantly, in place of Yuvraj a batting all-rounder. (4 bowlers don't always do the trick)