January 4, 2011

A year of comebacks

India showed the sort of toughness and determination that they have rarely displayed previously
26

India's 2010 was always going to be defined by the last three weeks of the year, on tour in South Africa, where they had won just one Test in 12 previous attempts. And when they started the second week of December, it didn't look good at all. Bowled out in 38.4 overs, India disappointed themselves more than anybody else. They had worked hard, they had been waiting for it (except those who drew up a schedule that didn't have a warm-up game), and on the first day of the series, on a damp pitch, they couldn't limit the damage enough to be able to draw what would be a rain-affected Test.

For themselves, more than anyone else, they needed to salvage the hard work of the last decade that had taken them to the top of the Test rankings. If the start was typical India, the response was typical new India. Put in on a pitch as green as they had seen, that bounced as steeply as any they had encountered, and where the ball seamed and jagged all day long, India hung in for their lives, getting just about enough runs to fight. If they were hanging from a cliff, those fingers were holding on tight. Three days later, Durban was conquered, capping off an immensely satisfying year, during which they didn't lose a Test series (in fact, they haven't lost a series since Sri Lanka 2008), and with at least three other comebacks earlier in the year, showed the kind of mental toughness rarely associated with the Indian teams of the past.

It was only fitting that at the heart of their final comeback were two of their best Test players of the year, VVS Laxman and Zaheer Khan. Laxman made contributions to all four of India's most memorable Test wins of the year. In Kolkata against South Africa, after India had been outclassed in Nagpur, he was one of India's four centurions. In the other three, he did it almost all by himself, and in the second innings. P Sara Oval, Mohali and Kingsmead saw Laxman at his best. Two of those were series-levelling efforts, and one - on injections and painkillers - the most extraordinary chase with the tail for company.

The Indian team has no qualms in admitting that Zaheer is their best bowler, bowling captain and bowling coach. In a striking resemblance to Laxman's efforts, Zaheer has had to fight his own body so that his skills could shine. And what skills he has shown: he swings both old and new ball, he knows exactly how to extract reverse swing, and even at his less-than-threatening pace, he averaged 22 in 2010. And all but one of his Tests were on the subcontinent.

Not to be forgotten is that the team somehow dug in enough to win P Sara and level the series even in the absence of Zaheer. Also not to be forgotten is that India won just one toss in 14 Tests this year, which means they have invariably had the worse of conditions. That can be a severe handicap, especially in places like Sri Lanka, who are better than anybody else at batting oppositions out once the toss is won, and South Africa, where one bad session can cost you a Test, as it did India in Centurion.

While Laxman and Zaheer produced the sterling, memorable performances, it was not easy to forget the others. Sachin Tendulkar, in his 21st year in international cricket, scored seven Test centuries. He saved India embarrassment in Chittagong in their first Test of the year. One of his doubles saved India the SSC Test, and another set up a win in Bangalore against Australia. Virender Sehwag unfortunately had to take on the classical Tendulkar role of watching his centuries go to waste: in Nagpur, in Galle, in Ahmedabad. In isolation the 109s he scored in Nagpur and Galle were lovely innings. For lack of support they were not enough to avert losses: the first two of MS Dhoni's captaincy.

The calmness Dhoni and Gary Kirsten brought to the leadership played a huge role in minimising the pressure that comes with being India and being No. 1. Dhoni has always maintained that his side approached three of their biggest Tests this year, Kolkata, P Sara and Durban, like they did any other match. While it might sound impossible to put that approach into practice, it helps the team to see their captain and coach not adding to the already existing pressure.

The captain and the coach also got the board to assist in achieving the side's Test ambitions as far as was commercially feasible. India played 14 Tests in 2010 to six in 2009. The selectors played ball, resting the key players for ODIs, giving the Test team the best possible chance to defend its status as the top team in the world. However, in commercial terms it proved to be too much to ask for warm-up games and acclimatisation time before the South Africa tour and the World Twenty20 in the West Indies.

India went to the premier Twenty20 event tired from the IPL, which had finished just five days earlier. They were rusty, the younger batsmen not prepared for the short-ball barrage, and the result was not surprising. In the 50-over format, India didn't play a single game with their first-choice XI, but finally got rid of the habit of losing finals in multi-nation tournaments, winning the Asia Cup in Sri Lanka, along the way beating Pakistan in a thriller. It was also fitting that Tendulkar, the most complete batsman in the format, scored the first double-century in 39 years of its existence.

New kids on the block
Cheteshwar Pujara came into Test cricket with a reputation to defend and a reputation to beat. He came in with a first-class average of over 57, accompanied by doubts that the numbers were bolstered on the low and slow pitches of his home ground in Rajkot. In the men's world, in the Two Tests that he got, Pujara went a long way in backing up those numbers and deleting the doubts. If he was youthful and without a care in the world in scoring a match-winning 72 in the fourth innings in Bangalore, his gutsy 76-minute fight against arguably best new-ball attack in the world, on the second day in Durban, received the stamp of approval from none other than Laxman.

By all evidence, Abhimanyu Mithun was the other new star on the horizon. A strong fast bowler, a natural athlete, he busted his gut in the unhelpful conditions in Sri Lanka, playing an important role in the series-leveller. As a reward, he has not played another Test. That's one the selectors need to answer for.

High point
The wins at Eden Gardens, P Sara Oval and Kingsmead. All of them levelled series, all of them were riveting comebacks, and in none of them did India win the toss. Add to it the Mohali miracle and you have four for the ages.

Low point
The World Twenty20 embarrassment. As they say, failing to prepare is preparing to fail.

What 2011 holds
Another big year, with the World Cup and tours to the West Indies, England and Australia lined up. Also, it could be the last time Laxman, Tendulkar and Rahul Dravid tour those countries. It should be a matter of concern that all the stellar performers over the last year have been the experienced cricketers. A bigger concern should be the reliance on Zaheer in the bowling department. And the poor starts to series. It is all good to celebrate the comebacks, but a thought has to be given to why India find themselves 0-1 down so often. Time is running out for this particular group of cricketers, and over the course of 2011 they would love to go from being fighting champions to dominating ones.

Sidharth Monga is an assistant editor at Cricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • on January 7, 2011, 11:48 GMT

    this was very exciting year in test format for india and odi sachin 200

  • on January 6, 2011, 19:49 GMT

    @JackJak..do u really think Kallis would have performed well against Steyn and morkel, the best fast bowling pair in modern cricket, compared to Sachin Tendulkar?, I dont think so. Also, how come a batsman stays in pavallion claiming he is so injured that he cant field..and not injured enough to stay at the wicket and score a 2nd inning century?

  • RAAJ101 on January 5, 2011, 17:44 GMT

    NOTHING GOES WASTE IN A GAME. EVEN IF YOU ARE SCORING A HUNDRED IN A LOSING MATCH IT IS NOT A WASTE. WINING OR LOSING IS A PART OF THE GAME. IT IS ONLY THE FIGHT THAT IS ADMIRED. [I AM REFERRING TO SEHWAG REMARKS IN THIS COLUMN]

  • JackJak on January 5, 2011, 17:41 GMT

    First of all its obvious why the whole world has always a good thing to say about India and its cricket team..and its because all the money is generated here. Who are we trying to fool here..Suddenly India is #1 ..Australia comes readily anytime to play in a series in India..But we somehow go only once in a while to places like South Africa And Australia..meanwhile play against Sri Lanka bangladesh and you are the World #1 Team..without one really good bowler..ok Zaheer Khan and Harbhajan are decent but we cannot say ..they can run through a side. We need a real fast bowler like Steyn a quality all rounder like Kallis who in my opinion has been the best cricketer this generation and not Tendulkar ..A Real Good Bowler and a Truly Good Batsmen..But we go on talking only about Batsmen and go by stats..

  • JackJak on January 5, 2011, 17:32 GMT

    People just go by a score and say a batsman is poor..how u get a score and how pleasing to the eye you look which must be looked into..Suresh Raina played on some flat track and people said oh...India has found the next great Test Batsmen..But when was Raina going to ever be great..Because he cant ever play quality fast bowling on a real track..like In South Africa Australia..and and its too early to say whether Pujara is good or bad..He needs more exposure at this level to judge him..playing him in the One Days would have been a good idea..to really know his all round game a bit more

  • RAAJ101 on January 5, 2011, 17:10 GMT

    INDIAN PLAYERS INCLUDING DOMESTIC PLAYERS ARE BECOMING BETTER AND BETTER BY PARTICIPATING IN TOURNAMENTS LIKE IPL

  • rstheboss on January 5, 2011, 8:47 GMT

    Good article but what a dud pujara has been. People rated him very high (as high as laxman) but what a joke he has been.. this shows that the current Indian crop irrespective of their domestic averages are worse while facing real fast bowling !

  • stormy16 on January 5, 2011, 6:53 GMT

    Once again a great article highlighting India's success and what are we debating about? Richards V Sachin!! Can some of us please grow up and keep the debate reasonably relevant. Now that I am in - Richards played in an era when things like physical fitness and professionalism was not a priority neither was there the same money in the game! Someone said Richards didnt face the best fast bowlers, I guess Deniss Lille and Jeff Thompson dont count and Richards played these guys without a helmet and imagine what Richards would have done to the Bangladesh and SL attacks (ok without Murali) - see what I mean about you cannot compare as its meaningless. So Richards played less one dayers - well the game was born in his ear and he was one of the guys who gave the new born one day game its excitement with his batting - no amount of runs from anyone can be measured against that. I am not saying one is better, just making a point that comparing guys from different eras is meannigless.

  • on January 5, 2011, 3:57 GMT

    SRT being the hottest target of all oppositions is analyzed the most yet oppositions haven't discovered any weakness in him in 21 yrs.. Anwar, Clarke, Lara's stats deteriorated in later half of their careers bcz oppositions exploited their weaknesses. Every time they find a minor imperfection in SRT, SRT overcomes it and consequently evolves. Some wonder how SRT in his 21'st year performing to his best and the ans lies in his evolution. Stats aside White cherry has tennis ball bounce & swings more than red ball in 1st few overs, also white cherry reverse swings more. Richards had the adv that he was not opener so didn't have to face new ball. SRT has such a unique capability to hit any good ball for four without even improving whereas Richards had to improvise and in the process ball would frequently hit his pads but umpires of earlier era hardly ever give lbw. Also Richards had the adv that fielding standards were extremely poor compared to SRT era. ......

  • on January 5, 2011, 3:56 GMT

    The most imp stats is rate of getting Man Of the Match (MOM). Sir Viv Richards got MOM every 6 Matches, for SRT rate of getting MOM is MOM every 7.24 Matches. This rate is far higher for these 2 legends than any other cricketer ever. Rest of all batsmen have rate of getting MOM is MOM every 9 matches or more. For instance Dravid gets MOM every 24 Matches...In the other imp ODI stats i.e tournament finals avg and WC avg these 2 legends are above all others with Sir Viv slightly superior than SRT. In terms of rate of achiving stats Sir Richards is slightly superior to SRT. But in terms of overall stats SRT is 2 times superior bcz of SRT's longevity which can be inferred as if India got 1 Richards who retired after 10 yrs then another Richards took his place for next 10 + yrs. Which is a great impact on the game and great service for Indian Team. ..............cont

  • on January 7, 2011, 11:48 GMT

    this was very exciting year in test format for india and odi sachin 200

  • on January 6, 2011, 19:49 GMT

    @JackJak..do u really think Kallis would have performed well against Steyn and morkel, the best fast bowling pair in modern cricket, compared to Sachin Tendulkar?, I dont think so. Also, how come a batsman stays in pavallion claiming he is so injured that he cant field..and not injured enough to stay at the wicket and score a 2nd inning century?

  • RAAJ101 on January 5, 2011, 17:44 GMT

    NOTHING GOES WASTE IN A GAME. EVEN IF YOU ARE SCORING A HUNDRED IN A LOSING MATCH IT IS NOT A WASTE. WINING OR LOSING IS A PART OF THE GAME. IT IS ONLY THE FIGHT THAT IS ADMIRED. [I AM REFERRING TO SEHWAG REMARKS IN THIS COLUMN]

  • JackJak on January 5, 2011, 17:41 GMT

    First of all its obvious why the whole world has always a good thing to say about India and its cricket team..and its because all the money is generated here. Who are we trying to fool here..Suddenly India is #1 ..Australia comes readily anytime to play in a series in India..But we somehow go only once in a while to places like South Africa And Australia..meanwhile play against Sri Lanka bangladesh and you are the World #1 Team..without one really good bowler..ok Zaheer Khan and Harbhajan are decent but we cannot say ..they can run through a side. We need a real fast bowler like Steyn a quality all rounder like Kallis who in my opinion has been the best cricketer this generation and not Tendulkar ..A Real Good Bowler and a Truly Good Batsmen..But we go on talking only about Batsmen and go by stats..

  • JackJak on January 5, 2011, 17:32 GMT

    People just go by a score and say a batsman is poor..how u get a score and how pleasing to the eye you look which must be looked into..Suresh Raina played on some flat track and people said oh...India has found the next great Test Batsmen..But when was Raina going to ever be great..Because he cant ever play quality fast bowling on a real track..like In South Africa Australia..and and its too early to say whether Pujara is good or bad..He needs more exposure at this level to judge him..playing him in the One Days would have been a good idea..to really know his all round game a bit more

  • RAAJ101 on January 5, 2011, 17:10 GMT

    INDIAN PLAYERS INCLUDING DOMESTIC PLAYERS ARE BECOMING BETTER AND BETTER BY PARTICIPATING IN TOURNAMENTS LIKE IPL

  • rstheboss on January 5, 2011, 8:47 GMT

    Good article but what a dud pujara has been. People rated him very high (as high as laxman) but what a joke he has been.. this shows that the current Indian crop irrespective of their domestic averages are worse while facing real fast bowling !

  • stormy16 on January 5, 2011, 6:53 GMT

    Once again a great article highlighting India's success and what are we debating about? Richards V Sachin!! Can some of us please grow up and keep the debate reasonably relevant. Now that I am in - Richards played in an era when things like physical fitness and professionalism was not a priority neither was there the same money in the game! Someone said Richards didnt face the best fast bowlers, I guess Deniss Lille and Jeff Thompson dont count and Richards played these guys without a helmet and imagine what Richards would have done to the Bangladesh and SL attacks (ok without Murali) - see what I mean about you cannot compare as its meaningless. So Richards played less one dayers - well the game was born in his ear and he was one of the guys who gave the new born one day game its excitement with his batting - no amount of runs from anyone can be measured against that. I am not saying one is better, just making a point that comparing guys from different eras is meannigless.

  • on January 5, 2011, 3:57 GMT

    SRT being the hottest target of all oppositions is analyzed the most yet oppositions haven't discovered any weakness in him in 21 yrs.. Anwar, Clarke, Lara's stats deteriorated in later half of their careers bcz oppositions exploited their weaknesses. Every time they find a minor imperfection in SRT, SRT overcomes it and consequently evolves. Some wonder how SRT in his 21'st year performing to his best and the ans lies in his evolution. Stats aside White cherry has tennis ball bounce & swings more than red ball in 1st few overs, also white cherry reverse swings more. Richards had the adv that he was not opener so didn't have to face new ball. SRT has such a unique capability to hit any good ball for four without even improving whereas Richards had to improvise and in the process ball would frequently hit his pads but umpires of earlier era hardly ever give lbw. Also Richards had the adv that fielding standards were extremely poor compared to SRT era. ......

  • on January 5, 2011, 3:56 GMT

    The most imp stats is rate of getting Man Of the Match (MOM). Sir Viv Richards got MOM every 6 Matches, for SRT rate of getting MOM is MOM every 7.24 Matches. This rate is far higher for these 2 legends than any other cricketer ever. Rest of all batsmen have rate of getting MOM is MOM every 9 matches or more. For instance Dravid gets MOM every 24 Matches...In the other imp ODI stats i.e tournament finals avg and WC avg these 2 legends are above all others with Sir Viv slightly superior than SRT. In terms of rate of achiving stats Sir Richards is slightly superior to SRT. But in terms of overall stats SRT is 2 times superior bcz of SRT's longevity which can be inferred as if India got 1 Richards who retired after 10 yrs then another Richards took his place for next 10 + yrs. Which is a great impact on the game and great service for Indian Team. ..............cont

  • mrgupta on January 4, 2011, 20:04 GMT

    @SamRoy: You seem to have "rested your case" too soon. Sachin played best bowling lineups, Viv never played Marshal, Garner, Holding, Ambrose or Walsh. Sachin played 440+ ODIs, Viv retired after playing 187. Sachin played for a weaker team India, Viv played for arguably the Best Team ever to play Cricket. Sachin has an avg of 44+ after 440+ ODIs, 46 100s and strike rate of 87, Viv never managed to drag his body to those limits. Many players have managed great Avg and Strike rates after just 50 matches will you put them above Viv? Excellence coupled with Longevity is something extremely difficult to achieve, When players have fallen down after reaching 35+ years of Age, Sachin has gotten even better... Don't forget, 200 in an ODI at the age of 37!! I respect and adore Viv a lot but what you said is a one sided opinion and i disagree with it.

  • on January 4, 2011, 19:11 GMT

    Hey SamRoy, Viv Richards scored in an era when Captains were not allowed to change their fields in the middle of an over.. Whereas Sachin din't have that luxury.. I REST MY CASE.

  • Nipun on January 4, 2011, 18:36 GMT

    What was Subramaniam Badrinath's fault that he got axed ? Pujara has been a good find,but should he have been even called up ? It should have been Badrinath to fill up Laxman's spot in Bangalore.

  • johnsrini on January 4, 2011, 16:53 GMT

    Be happy there is both Richards and Tendulkar. Imagine having to watch Gavaskar and Boycott hit 31 not out in 55 overs. Or the hundred comming on the second day after lunch. ( started the innings on the first day)

  • cricPassion2009 on January 4, 2011, 16:19 GMT

    As the article notes, it is strange that Abhimanyu Mithun did not get to play after his tremendous bowling in SL. Why can't team have 4 fast bowlers + 1 spinner ? Are they going to give this young lad a chance only after Zaheer retires ?

    Regarding Cheteshwar Pujara, I'm not seeing him in major form in the early tests of his career. Seems like a good fielder.

    In general, team India will have a tough time accommodating classy players in waiting, and to make decision when all the seniors are playing so well.

  • on January 4, 2011, 15:18 GMT

    2010 was a good year.Hope the boys continue the good work in 2011,the year of the World Cup!

  • ad-infinitum on January 4, 2011, 13:31 GMT

    @ SamRoy : Even though Viv Richards might have played in an age where there were no field restrictions (i do not know if the restrictions existed then), it was an age where the fielding captains never put too many fielders on the boundary throughout the innings. These days (and also in the 1990s), after the initial field restrictions, captains generally send back 5 men to the boundary. Also, Richards never faced the best bowling attack of his generation (because it was in his team itself) while Tendulkar has reserved his best for the Aussies in ODIs. And Richards did not last as long as Tendulkar. Plus the pressure in India that Tendulkar faces. Not saying Sir Viv was ordinary, but Tendulkar is just slightly better.

  • stormy16 on January 4, 2011, 11:41 GMT

    I'm not sure why so many people argue against the #1 status and winning at home etc - its really is not the point. We have a measure that applies to all which shows India as #1 and they deserve it and just look at the performance and the talent in the team. The batters are awesome but its the bowling which has made a huge difference this year and there is little point in compairing ZAK to Akram or Mcgrath or who ever else thats non-sense. The team has the wins (they cant win abroad if there are no scheduled games) and the draws and most of all some really earth shattering wins as mentioned in the article and thoroughly deserve to be #1 and I think have shown enough in SA already that this is one tough side. Are the comparable to the Aussies of the 90's or Windies of the 80's - well we can talk about that in 10 years time but for now they have done the needful to be #1 now.

  • kpk_007 on January 4, 2011, 11:30 GMT

    Team India is on a high.We have rarely seen this kind of confidence among the players.Dhoni is doing a fantastic job.Laxman is really very very special. Keep it up guys...

  • SamRoy on January 4, 2011, 11:23 GMT

    How is Tendulkar 'the most complete batsman' in ODI format? Have you forgotten about a certain Viv Richards? Tendulkar averaged 45 with a strike rate of 87 with 15 over field restrictions in an age of the white ball (which stops swinging after a few overs). Richards averaged 47 with a strike rate of 90 with no field restrictions more often than not and in an age 'where an average of 35 at a strike of 60 was considered very good' and against a red ball which if maintained swung all day. I REST MY CASE.

  • Cricinfo-Editorial on January 4, 2011, 9:13 GMT

    Thanks Aditya, for pointing out the error in the age of one-dayers. It has now been changed to 39.

  • AdityaUpadhyay on January 4, 2011, 6:09 GMT

    A good article. But a mistake one day cricket is 39 years old.

  • Nadeem1976 on January 4, 2011, 5:02 GMT

    India. Enjoy the #1 spot in test cricket. You deserve it. You did what australia used to do 5 years ago. They were at top and now you are top. Respect the legends and keep on wining.

  • mits6 on January 4, 2011, 3:54 GMT

    Nice article . definitely unadkat & mithun are pace bowling prospects of future .Ishant sharma dissapointed a bit .harbhajan's heroics with bat were good to see.dravid was not good againsr quality teams and he himself as well as others are scruitinizing performance and future in the game.

  • wincrick on January 4, 2011, 3:49 GMT

    Yes The Indian team showed toughness to comback after being down in the previous tests.But they also have their weakness ie allowing the opposition to comeback after having them in trouble like they did against NZ in the two tests and the bowling attack looks inconsistent. Rahul Dravid played well in the NZ series but has failed in SA and he is not the same player that he was four or five years back.If they have to be No 1 for a long time like the Australians did then they must win series outside the sub continent consistently.

    Abhijith Radhakrishnan.

  • dyogesh on January 4, 2011, 3:19 GMT

    Good that you've brought in one point that has often been missing on India's No.1 status. Starting from the Mumbai test match where they became No.1, India has lost the toss except for the NZ test and have still not lost a series. They have batted last in sub-continent and batted first in SA and still have maintained an impressive record. Not many people have appreciated this.

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  • dyogesh on January 4, 2011, 3:19 GMT

    Good that you've brought in one point that has often been missing on India's No.1 status. Starting from the Mumbai test match where they became No.1, India has lost the toss except for the NZ test and have still not lost a series. They have batted last in sub-continent and batted first in SA and still have maintained an impressive record. Not many people have appreciated this.

  • wincrick on January 4, 2011, 3:49 GMT

    Yes The Indian team showed toughness to comback after being down in the previous tests.But they also have their weakness ie allowing the opposition to comeback after having them in trouble like they did against NZ in the two tests and the bowling attack looks inconsistent. Rahul Dravid played well in the NZ series but has failed in SA and he is not the same player that he was four or five years back.If they have to be No 1 for a long time like the Australians did then they must win series outside the sub continent consistently.

    Abhijith Radhakrishnan.

  • mits6 on January 4, 2011, 3:54 GMT

    Nice article . definitely unadkat & mithun are pace bowling prospects of future .Ishant sharma dissapointed a bit .harbhajan's heroics with bat were good to see.dravid was not good againsr quality teams and he himself as well as others are scruitinizing performance and future in the game.

  • Nadeem1976 on January 4, 2011, 5:02 GMT

    India. Enjoy the #1 spot in test cricket. You deserve it. You did what australia used to do 5 years ago. They were at top and now you are top. Respect the legends and keep on wining.

  • AdityaUpadhyay on January 4, 2011, 6:09 GMT

    A good article. But a mistake one day cricket is 39 years old.

  • Cricinfo-Editorial on January 4, 2011, 9:13 GMT

    Thanks Aditya, for pointing out the error in the age of one-dayers. It has now been changed to 39.

  • SamRoy on January 4, 2011, 11:23 GMT

    How is Tendulkar 'the most complete batsman' in ODI format? Have you forgotten about a certain Viv Richards? Tendulkar averaged 45 with a strike rate of 87 with 15 over field restrictions in an age of the white ball (which stops swinging after a few overs). Richards averaged 47 with a strike rate of 90 with no field restrictions more often than not and in an age 'where an average of 35 at a strike of 60 was considered very good' and against a red ball which if maintained swung all day. I REST MY CASE.

  • kpk_007 on January 4, 2011, 11:30 GMT

    Team India is on a high.We have rarely seen this kind of confidence among the players.Dhoni is doing a fantastic job.Laxman is really very very special. Keep it up guys...

  • stormy16 on January 4, 2011, 11:41 GMT

    I'm not sure why so many people argue against the #1 status and winning at home etc - its really is not the point. We have a measure that applies to all which shows India as #1 and they deserve it and just look at the performance and the talent in the team. The batters are awesome but its the bowling which has made a huge difference this year and there is little point in compairing ZAK to Akram or Mcgrath or who ever else thats non-sense. The team has the wins (they cant win abroad if there are no scheduled games) and the draws and most of all some really earth shattering wins as mentioned in the article and thoroughly deserve to be #1 and I think have shown enough in SA already that this is one tough side. Are the comparable to the Aussies of the 90's or Windies of the 80's - well we can talk about that in 10 years time but for now they have done the needful to be #1 now.

  • ad-infinitum on January 4, 2011, 13:31 GMT

    @ SamRoy : Even though Viv Richards might have played in an age where there were no field restrictions (i do not know if the restrictions existed then), it was an age where the fielding captains never put too many fielders on the boundary throughout the innings. These days (and also in the 1990s), after the initial field restrictions, captains generally send back 5 men to the boundary. Also, Richards never faced the best bowling attack of his generation (because it was in his team itself) while Tendulkar has reserved his best for the Aussies in ODIs. And Richards did not last as long as Tendulkar. Plus the pressure in India that Tendulkar faces. Not saying Sir Viv was ordinary, but Tendulkar is just slightly better.