January 2, 2012

Kings of the short form, knaves in Tests

The year gone by will always be remembered in India for the World Cup win, but that euphoria only briefly covers up the side's problems
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In the space of two months, Indian cricket's year became a metaphorical exercise involving the contents of more than a single glass. Normally it would lead to a conclusion of: somewhere between empty and full. But India's contradictory performances over 2011 demand that the exercise be abandoned. There is, firstly, not just one glass under discussion here, and the others are housed in a completely different cabinet.

The World Cup victory brought with it the burst of a long-awaited Indian spring, with exhilaration and exhalation. Nearly three decades of yearning were wiped out with a single six by MS Dhoni. Like Kapil Dev's catch off Viv Richards in the 1983 final, that will be Dhoni's signature forever, the trophy his lasting legacy. A rousing, lusty soundtrack of public will drowned out the ticking heartbeat of India's measured progress to the title, accompanied by what coach Gary Kirsten called a "sense of destiny".

Heading into the tournament, India had warmed up nicely: they had won three of their last five series, including two at home, and the Asia Cup. When opening night arrived in Dhaka, India had a record of 19 wins and 13 losses in 32 matches over the last 13 months (8-1 at home)

The jigsaw of the World Cup was being pieced together. Resources were smartly and sparingly used. A cast of bowlers, high on skill and awareness in home conditions, was being picked from among the contenders who would eventually work around Zaheer Khan and Harbhajan Singh. Tryouts in the previous three home series saw Ashish Nehra return to the top of the queue and R Ashwin make his debut. Munaf Patel, by then over 50 ODIs old, may have been a second-choice support bowler to Zaheer but ended up a a first-rate replacement for the injured Praveen Kumar.

India's World Cup victory was the culmination of a collective striving: be it from the unheralded effort of men like Munaf or the born-again Yuvraj Singh. And from everyone left with unfinished business from the Wanderers in 2003, or even Port-of-Spain 2007.

Unlike Australia in 1987, Pakistan in 1992, or even Sri Lanka in 1996, India were not World Cup winners of youthful surprise or skin-of-their-teeth survival. Their title came from a rich core of experience, part-sweet, part-sour. With a battling league phase endured, India's A game fell into place in the knockout. As if it was, as Kirsten said, written.

The 2011 World Cup is now the new touchstone, bringing closure to the weight of 1983 and converting it into sepia legend. By 2015, the country's first full T20 generation will be knocking on the doors of ODI cricket. On paper, these will be more attacking batsmen, smarter bowlers and sharper fielders. In practice, the team will dominate at home and compete overseas.

In England this summer, if the Test team was well-beaten after the second Test, the ODI team always found a way to get back on its feet. Despite failing to win a single game, it was the only time India looked ready for a contest in England.

After that, they snapped back to their old habits, and have won nine of their last ten ODIs. Their bench strength could make up an entire new IPL franchise (the BCCI Ballyhoo?), senior players are seamlessly replaced and Rohit Sharma is back. After the World Cup victory, Dhoni said he liked the "variety" contained in ODIs, which brought, "a glimpse of not actually Test cricket" but a compressed version of its demands - with a definite result. If international cricket was only played in 50- and 20-over versions, India could grab the world No. 1 ranking in the near future and cling onto it.

Alas.

Despite all trepidation (or hope), Test cricket is not dying. At its close, 2011 has raised an imperious forefinger to India and pointed at the icy statistic of five straight overseas Test defeats. Of India's 12 Tests in 2011, they won only three. All against West Indies, who, in a case of masterful planning, have played India in two three-Test series over six months. Of the four draws in the year, there were chances to win two, in St Lucia and Mumbai, but let those be. After five straight away defeats, draws now look like victories.

At the start of 2011 it had all looked so different: India had battled their way to a 1-1 draw in South Africa. More than any other result in their tenure as world Test No. 1, the result gave India's ranking some serious validation. (Until then they had played Bangladesh and Sri Lanka away and South Africa, Australia and New Zealand at home.) India had squared a series in South Africa for the first time in five series and 18 years.

The new year was to be the ideal launching platform for a year in which India could defend their ranking. There were tours of the West Indies, England and Australia lined up in ideal sequence. The team had plenty going for it: its best-ever opening pair was entrenched, its middle order deliciously seasoned, and the bowling attack reasonable, with options on the side.

By the end of 2011, everything had turned to custard. The No. 1 Test ranking had been handed over to England, and more grievously, the reputation as hardy travellers now seems a mere illusion. The final week of the year brought with it a sucker punch in Melbourne, against a supposedly shaky Australia. Once again, India opened a series with a Test defeat, a habit that should have stopped being a cute quirk about five years ago.

Between the beginning and end of 2011, India put on display their soft middle in England. It was the first time England had even won a series against India since 1996. The 4-0 defeat may have been a prime example of a worst-case scenario - general World Cup and IPL fatigue, not enough warm-up games, injuries on tour, poor planning, bad luck - gone loco. And Rahul Dravid made tough runs. No need to stop the press.

Melbourne was supposed to have ironed out all the bad karma from England. Zaheer had turned up leaner and meaner. The second and third seamers were men of more than modest medium pace, and an eager rookie offspinner was champing at the bit. The batting was in the order it was meant to be in, and three Tests against West Indies had given everyone a good stretch.

India may still pick themselves up against Australia, but the bigger picture from the summer of 4-0 is still relevant. Against quality opposition in alien conditions, India's oldest hands are their most capable, but the company around them is thin. On rigorous tours, there still are three very vulnerable spots in the batting line-up. India's tried and tested "merry-go-round" approach to handling their fast bowling stocks, particularly injury management, needs rethinking and retooling.

Apart from than that single exchange-it-for-nothing, grin-generating trophy, in the last 12 months Indian cricket has also produced the possibility that our game could morph into two detached entities. Changes in personnel are inevitable, it is changes in performance that bring with them heavier impact.

The polite query thrown up by 2011 is whether being alert and responsive to Test results, particularly overseas, is a mission that actually matters to Indian cricket - to the players, to the selectors who scout them, to the administrators for whom success in any form is the only sign needed to show that all is swell on their watch. Indian cricket has internalised ODI cricket and will be formidable over the next decade. The short and shorter games are more lucrative than they have ever been. As a career option, it is a no-brainer compared to the prospect of an innings built on grafting for two sessions or bowling 20 overs over six hours. Two thousand and eleven gave India a World Cup of pure joy, but also established that the silent re-mapping of Indian cricket's DNA is now underway.

High point
In any other year the fastest 200 in ODI cricket would have been a contender, but for India, 2011 will always stand for the World Cup. Yes, there were the advantages of playing all but one match at home, in front of supportive, devoted fans, and in a format far removed from the breathless shootout of 2007. Yet, over the six weeks of the World Cup, what was handled along with the cricket was the weight of public breath down their necks. That was heavier than can be imagined.

Low point
Four-zero. What else? The English summer may have been played under mostly clear, sunny skies, but to the Indians it was biting, chilly and soaked in the grey gloom of Bronte novels. Lateral movement, juicy wickets, and an unrelenting bowling attack of bite and discipline demanded quality batsmanship, or at the least, some evidence of dogged resistance. England's finest batting line-up in decades demanded that the slightest chance be grabbed. India said no can do. Yes, injuries and misfortune made eventual defeat hard to avoid. Yet collective resolve with the bat or snatches of over-achievement with the ball and India wouldn't have drawn a complete blank.

New kid on the block
Umesh Yadav, welcome. Sturdy, energetic and "quick-quick" (cricket pidgin to bypass the euphemism "fast-medium"), Yadav was India's most important find. Over the course of his first three Tests in varying conditions he has indicated that he could become the centrepiece of India's pace attack in the post-Zaheer era. He can generate pace and swing, hurry batsmen or cramp them, and has the lung power of a long-distance runner. Provided he is kept sharp and fit and handled like a long-term resource rather than short-term cure.

What 2012 holds
The rest of the tour of Australia - three Tests and the CB Series, which includes Sri Lanka - could bring either alarms or promising signs. Once that is done, for starters, the comforts of home beckon. After a 14-month cycle of touring South Africa, England, West Indies and Australia, there will be no more away Tests outside the subcontinent until November 2013. England arrive for four Tests in November 2012 and Australia in February 2013. The Asia Cup will give the world champions a chance to show off more muscle around the hood. Simmering underneath all of this will be the slow, lingering departures of India's greatest-ever middle order, one at a time. When the next round of tough touring begins, the aftershocks lie in wait.

Sharda Ugra is senior editor at ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • on January 4, 2012, 16:21 GMT

    India has and will always struggle in foreign conditions, lest they find a true fit fast bowler, and not one - a bunch of them. Indian bowlers are mediocre at best and good teams like Australia will always thrash them anywhere. India relies heavily on its over rated batting lineup, and once they find themselves out of sub-continental conditions, they collapse. Start a national talent hunt for fast bowlers. Develop a true pace attack, bowlers like Sreesanth should be unleashed, and let them do what they want.

  • bobmartin on January 3, 2012, 19:17 GMT

    The article's title is one of the most fundimental mistakes of all: "Kings of the short term" ? Codswallop.. The top team in the ICC ODI Rankings for the majority of the time the table has been in existence has been and still is Australia. I haven't bothered to check, but if I remember correctly the only other side to top that table for a short period was Sth Africa. India won the last World Cup simply because, apart from one match, all their games were at home, and even then they did not play every side. So all they did was win that one tournament. During the time the ICC Table has been in existence Oz have proved to be the most consistent ODI side in the world bar none.

  • on January 3, 2012, 11:54 GMT

    Leave the bowling atleast it luks potent now.but batting luks terrible !! Its high tym pujara,mukund,rahane,rohit and kohli are drafted in to playing 11 including badrinath and yuvi and raina.

    Yuvi atleadt scored a 50 in only match he playd in england and the likes of gambhir and laxman scored single digits.

    High tym for serious batting changes

  • on January 3, 2012, 8:44 GMT

    gud one! india wil take some time to come back to its own after the pressure they had playing at home during WC.

  • on January 3, 2012, 7:51 GMT

    sub continent countries like SL Pakistan India and Bangladesh should have ateast one pich made similar to those found in Ausy and SAfrica and play at least one home test in those otherwise always away series sub continent teams will find it hard to win

  • on January 3, 2012, 0:47 GMT

    @qasrazakaz , world was just a Tournament , really how many World cups have Pak won , ONE and India 2 , agreed Pakistan is a good team, but to say WC was just a tournament and India won it because it was played in India , yeah India won in 87 and 96 :). but in test cricket India is very poor and i can say SL and Pakistan might be better than India in Tests. i really hope and i am praying tha SL wins the last test match , but World cup 2011 was icing on the cake and can never be ridiculed , it was fair and WE WON period.

  • cricpolitics on January 2, 2012, 22:14 GMT

    This is what happens when the world championships are custom made for a particular team and 2011 world cup was one of those custom made events. The Indian team's performances since the world cup are an ample proof of that. The team India is playing to it's true potential now.

  • on January 2, 2012, 21:35 GMT

    Greatest set of batsmen individually....yes....but greatest batting order collectively....not really..althoughtthe indian batsmen have achived great hieghts...they ve never really clicked as a unit except for very few occasions at home against weak bowling attacks...and the bowling has never been world class...yes they deserve credit to have fought well overseas and achived some decent victories in the past decade. A 4-0 loss to a top of the class england team with aging fielders and against swininging conditions is not the end of the world.. But the need of the hour is to find quality young test players with temparament to fight for 5 days. I dont care about one dayers or t20s. Long live Test Cricket.

  • crindo77 on January 2, 2012, 20:13 GMT

    Very well written article from Ms Ugra. Is it just me, or does anybody else find it really susprising that inspite of all the money , all the support, and the resources India spends on cricket, after 20 years we still have only 1 batsman ( SRT) that can actually play the ball at all times , irrespective of when it bounces, moves, swings or spins? All that talk of India being a force to reckon with overseas is largely based on the lone win in Durban in 2011. If SL win or draw the current series in SA, which I pray they do, India's 'achievement' will pale in comparison, as it should. Although Dhoni's reign will have the World Cup as its legacy, Ganguly's contribution as moulding an aggressive Indian side that fights overseas will however persevere; as far as Test cricket, and overseas performances go, its definitely several steps backwards. But we now have IPL. Well, at least for now anyway.....

  • _NEUTRAL_Fan_ on January 2, 2012, 18:09 GMT

    I think the truth be told is, Ind were never as good a test team as they thought. Every1 without bias and overemotional drama made it clear that there IS NO clear cut #1 test side (personally I don't think there is 1 in any format) and now the many whiners are now singing the same tune, irony.

  • on January 4, 2012, 16:21 GMT

    India has and will always struggle in foreign conditions, lest they find a true fit fast bowler, and not one - a bunch of them. Indian bowlers are mediocre at best and good teams like Australia will always thrash them anywhere. India relies heavily on its over rated batting lineup, and once they find themselves out of sub-continental conditions, they collapse. Start a national talent hunt for fast bowlers. Develop a true pace attack, bowlers like Sreesanth should be unleashed, and let them do what they want.

  • bobmartin on January 3, 2012, 19:17 GMT

    The article's title is one of the most fundimental mistakes of all: "Kings of the short term" ? Codswallop.. The top team in the ICC ODI Rankings for the majority of the time the table has been in existence has been and still is Australia. I haven't bothered to check, but if I remember correctly the only other side to top that table for a short period was Sth Africa. India won the last World Cup simply because, apart from one match, all their games were at home, and even then they did not play every side. So all they did was win that one tournament. During the time the ICC Table has been in existence Oz have proved to be the most consistent ODI side in the world bar none.

  • on January 3, 2012, 11:54 GMT

    Leave the bowling atleast it luks potent now.but batting luks terrible !! Its high tym pujara,mukund,rahane,rohit and kohli are drafted in to playing 11 including badrinath and yuvi and raina.

    Yuvi atleadt scored a 50 in only match he playd in england and the likes of gambhir and laxman scored single digits.

    High tym for serious batting changes

  • on January 3, 2012, 8:44 GMT

    gud one! india wil take some time to come back to its own after the pressure they had playing at home during WC.

  • on January 3, 2012, 7:51 GMT

    sub continent countries like SL Pakistan India and Bangladesh should have ateast one pich made similar to those found in Ausy and SAfrica and play at least one home test in those otherwise always away series sub continent teams will find it hard to win

  • on January 3, 2012, 0:47 GMT

    @qasrazakaz , world was just a Tournament , really how many World cups have Pak won , ONE and India 2 , agreed Pakistan is a good team, but to say WC was just a tournament and India won it because it was played in India , yeah India won in 87 and 96 :). but in test cricket India is very poor and i can say SL and Pakistan might be better than India in Tests. i really hope and i am praying tha SL wins the last test match , but World cup 2011 was icing on the cake and can never be ridiculed , it was fair and WE WON period.

  • cricpolitics on January 2, 2012, 22:14 GMT

    This is what happens when the world championships are custom made for a particular team and 2011 world cup was one of those custom made events. The Indian team's performances since the world cup are an ample proof of that. The team India is playing to it's true potential now.

  • on January 2, 2012, 21:35 GMT

    Greatest set of batsmen individually....yes....but greatest batting order collectively....not really..althoughtthe indian batsmen have achived great hieghts...they ve never really clicked as a unit except for very few occasions at home against weak bowling attacks...and the bowling has never been world class...yes they deserve credit to have fought well overseas and achived some decent victories in the past decade. A 4-0 loss to a top of the class england team with aging fielders and against swininging conditions is not the end of the world.. But the need of the hour is to find quality young test players with temparament to fight for 5 days. I dont care about one dayers or t20s. Long live Test Cricket.

  • crindo77 on January 2, 2012, 20:13 GMT

    Very well written article from Ms Ugra. Is it just me, or does anybody else find it really susprising that inspite of all the money , all the support, and the resources India spends on cricket, after 20 years we still have only 1 batsman ( SRT) that can actually play the ball at all times , irrespective of when it bounces, moves, swings or spins? All that talk of India being a force to reckon with overseas is largely based on the lone win in Durban in 2011. If SL win or draw the current series in SA, which I pray they do, India's 'achievement' will pale in comparison, as it should. Although Dhoni's reign will have the World Cup as its legacy, Ganguly's contribution as moulding an aggressive Indian side that fights overseas will however persevere; as far as Test cricket, and overseas performances go, its definitely several steps backwards. But we now have IPL. Well, at least for now anyway.....

  • _NEUTRAL_Fan_ on January 2, 2012, 18:09 GMT

    I think the truth be told is, Ind were never as good a test team as they thought. Every1 without bias and overemotional drama made it clear that there IS NO clear cut #1 test side (personally I don't think there is 1 in any format) and now the many whiners are now singing the same tune, irony.

  • on January 2, 2012, 16:17 GMT

    Not very different from the fortunes of Kapil Devs team. In 1983 India lost ODI series in India 5-0 and Test Series 3-0. Only difference was that the team that did it was the very team they were able to beat convincingly twice during the world cup.

  • bobmartin on January 2, 2012, 15:20 GMT

    To those who think India are a force to be reckoned with away from home, the following stats reveal the truth..Since 1999 India have won 46.6% and lost 15% of their home tests, whilst away, they've won 32.4% and lost 37.8%.. i.e. their away loss rate is 2.2x their home loss rate.

  • smalishah84 on January 2, 2012, 14:57 GMT

    wonderfully well written article

  • pigeotto99 on January 2, 2012, 14:03 GMT

    yadav really isn't that fast, definently not quick-quick!

  • qasrazakaz on January 2, 2012, 12:34 GMT

    has the writer not studied the ststs that pakistan won 24 odi's in 2011 and india only 21.Going by the stats,pakistan are the kings of short form in 2011 and aussies are the overall no 1 without any doubt.Just winning the world cup at home does not make u the champs.it's just one tournament

  • on January 2, 2012, 12:04 GMT

    Very good article. I think the ipl just after the world cup spoiled the year for India.

  • hhillbumper on January 2, 2012, 11:55 GMT

    This myth that this is the greatest batting order ever is farcical.The first time they come across wickets with any bounce on them they fold up.I think that the sooner the great middle order retires then India might begin to move forwards. At the moment because of the deification they receive people will not look at the truth which is that India do not travel well.They did not lose in England they were abused and a real team would put up some fight.There was none and that was the most shocking part of the tour.They did not fight and seemingly did not care

  • kasyapm on January 2, 2012, 11:24 GMT

    This argument of 'India can not play well overseas' does not hold good anymore. We had a pretty decent run in ALL the countries this decade. Agreed, we could have fared better than the 4-0 drubbing in England & we still have some administrative flaws. But, the core of this team, which has fought so well in tough conditions in the last 2-3 years, is same. I can recall many instances where we fought out of our skins to draw or win a game - the drawn game against NZ when we were 15/5, the chase in Mohali, battling out a day and half in NZ to save a test, Zak & Bhajji fighting to save the first test against Aus in 2008, Chasing 250-odd after being 62/4 against SL, coming back after first test-losses to SA & winning the game after being 80/6 in WI. The self-belief would have taken a hit as Dhoni admitted in another article, but writing off these guys completely will surely be a mistake. I am expecting a win in Sydney.

  • FoollyFedUp on January 2, 2012, 11:12 GMT

    2012 and 2013 : Two 'safe' years for Indian cricket. Time for Messers. Kohli, Raina and Dhoni to put that front foot forward and hoick them white balls for sixers. No overseas tours to show them for what they truly are. Spurious Talent.

  • moBlue on January 2, 2012, 11:07 GMT

    england in 2011? i got no explanation. but SA's bowling exactly a year ago was lethal... and buried IND by an inning and nearly 200 in the first test! ...and super-fast durban awaited! yet IND were resilient enough not only to win in durban but seriously threaten SA at cape town until kallis intervened masterfully and fought IND to a stalemate! dravid didn't quit in ENG! tendulkar and laxman will never quit in AUS!!! ...especially at a non-MCG venue! the MCG loss was utterly predictable... meThinx IND actually performed better than I had expected them to in a first test they knew they would lose [IND are 0-5-1 since 1985 at the MCG!]. sehwag awaits as only sehwag can... and will blister at some point in the remaining 3 tests, guaranteed, as evidenced by his record-breaking ODI double hundred a month ago! so i - for one - am not actually worried about IND fighting back at the remaining non-MCG venues, the SCG being their most favorite! i wonder how AUS will respond after the SCG loss!!!

  • 68704 on January 2, 2012, 10:57 GMT

    I think the reality is that India is well nigh unbeatable at home and pretty sad overseas. I think the 4-0 was a nightmare and the beginning in Australia has been worrying to say the least. We have close to 50,000 test runs in our top order and yet the way we approached the young, energetic aussie fast bowlers has been worrying to say the least. The Australian side is presently extremely weak and it is unforgiable to lose to them. I think we should not write off the Indian batsmen too soon. I daresay the wickets will all have a bit of grass with the the exception of adelaide and I am sure if India makes runs, not humungus runs but in the region of 350 then we can win. The australian batting is suspect and the Indian pace attack is good and I do hope it holds up as the second test match is just 4 days after the first. In any case we will soon become the no 1 test team as we will play all our next several tests at home! Cheerup sharada and lets see how we play the one dayers here sridha

  • snagaraj87 on January 2, 2012, 10:37 GMT

    Sri Lanka in 1996 was neither youthful surprise nor did they have to survive on the skin of their teeth unless we think Aravinda, Asanka and Arjuna were youthful! Even the younger brigade of Murali, Jaysuriya and Vaas were grizzled by then. Also, not at any point were they remotely close to getting knocked out .. even during the knock out matches! Yes, Australia in 1999 and Pakistan in 1992 were examples where they were one bad stroke/one catch/one sunny day away from being knocked out and rode on an element of remarkable luck in the league stages

  • snagaraj87 on January 2, 2012, 10:23 GMT

    The reason why India does not and cannot do well in tests in Australia and England is simple - it is difficult for batsmen bred on low bouncing wickets to "adjust up" within a span of a few weeks or months. Unless, Indian batsmen play county cricket in Australia or England this weakness will always remain. Thanks to IPL that is unlikely to happen. Unless, India develops a bowling arsenal that can blow up the opposition batsmen... and do not rely on the batting "legends" exclusively, India is likely to face real possibilities of brown-washes on such tours.

  • on January 2, 2012, 10:04 GMT

    Wonder why people are thinking India is off guard in test cricket just a series loss in England and thats it people are going blah blah blah over India ....come on guys, early days for every team to get to top spot in test cricket after Australia have been dethroned from no 1 spot and let me tell my friend's from all countries there is musical chair game going on at the moment for no 1 spot so guys wait and watch!!!

  • on January 2, 2012, 9:30 GMT

    ya thats is it india showed throught the year they are the best odi team in world even the loss in eng were all DL losses and india would have won if rain had not affected but now have to prove in cb series and asia cup the fact test cricket outside subcontinent it tooks years to remove that tag of being poor tourist it has again come to haunt us now hopefully in the rest of the aus test series they can show the world thats not the truth and eng was a accident still time is there

  • venkatesh018 on January 2, 2012, 8:14 GMT

    DESPITE ALL TREPDIATION(FOR US CRICKET LOVERS) OR HOPE(BY THE BCCI) TEST CRICKET IS NOT DYING- loved the cheeky humour of the statement. As usual spot on article, Sharda.

  • stormy16 on January 2, 2012, 7:14 GMT

    Enough said about Eng and WC ETC. For me, the next generation is significant for India in 2011. Yadav and Ashwin have shown plenty in the short carrers to suggest Indian bowling stocks are in good hands for life after Zak and Bajan. Lets face it India are never going to have too many issues with batsman - sure there will never be another Sachin or Dravid but in Kholi, Sharma, Gambir, Raina and the string of quality batters waiting int he wings, there is enough talent to get runs on the board to be competitive. The question will always be can India get 20 wickets and I think Ashwin and Yadav provide a great base to build on.

  • rahulcricket007 on January 2, 2012, 6:43 GMT

    I DIDN'T RATE INDIA AS THE KINGS IN ODIS . IF THEY WIN ODI SERIES AGAINST AUSTRTALIA WHICH IS NO.1 AT PRESENT IN ODIS , THEN I WILL RATE INDIA AS THE BEST ODI TEAM AT THE MOMENT .

  • on January 2, 2012, 6:30 GMT

    the article is full of praise for indian team. sharda is unable to highlight any weakness for the team and even the complete white wash in england has been praised some what. this un parallel praise will do nothing good for a team which for the last one year is on the losing streak except in west indies. i hope sanity will prevail and youngsters will be given chance instead of the ageing tendulkar, laxman and others.

  • ozmatthews on January 2, 2012, 5:38 GMT

    um.. india is ranked two in test cricket. dont think they are knaves in tests.

  • DaisonGarvasis on January 2, 2012, 4:39 GMT

    Cant be bothered to pay much attention to Sharda's "always negative and depressing" articles. Really wonder how Cricinfo put these for everybody to read. Some people are born with that frame of mind - They see the half empty glass all the time.

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  • DaisonGarvasis on January 2, 2012, 4:39 GMT

    Cant be bothered to pay much attention to Sharda's "always negative and depressing" articles. Really wonder how Cricinfo put these for everybody to read. Some people are born with that frame of mind - They see the half empty glass all the time.

  • ozmatthews on January 2, 2012, 5:38 GMT

    um.. india is ranked two in test cricket. dont think they are knaves in tests.

  • on January 2, 2012, 6:30 GMT

    the article is full of praise for indian team. sharda is unable to highlight any weakness for the team and even the complete white wash in england has been praised some what. this un parallel praise will do nothing good for a team which for the last one year is on the losing streak except in west indies. i hope sanity will prevail and youngsters will be given chance instead of the ageing tendulkar, laxman and others.

  • rahulcricket007 on January 2, 2012, 6:43 GMT

    I DIDN'T RATE INDIA AS THE KINGS IN ODIS . IF THEY WIN ODI SERIES AGAINST AUSTRTALIA WHICH IS NO.1 AT PRESENT IN ODIS , THEN I WILL RATE INDIA AS THE BEST ODI TEAM AT THE MOMENT .

  • stormy16 on January 2, 2012, 7:14 GMT

    Enough said about Eng and WC ETC. For me, the next generation is significant for India in 2011. Yadav and Ashwin have shown plenty in the short carrers to suggest Indian bowling stocks are in good hands for life after Zak and Bajan. Lets face it India are never going to have too many issues with batsman - sure there will never be another Sachin or Dravid but in Kholi, Sharma, Gambir, Raina and the string of quality batters waiting int he wings, there is enough talent to get runs on the board to be competitive. The question will always be can India get 20 wickets and I think Ashwin and Yadav provide a great base to build on.

  • venkatesh018 on January 2, 2012, 8:14 GMT

    DESPITE ALL TREPDIATION(FOR US CRICKET LOVERS) OR HOPE(BY THE BCCI) TEST CRICKET IS NOT DYING- loved the cheeky humour of the statement. As usual spot on article, Sharda.

  • on January 2, 2012, 9:30 GMT

    ya thats is it india showed throught the year they are the best odi team in world even the loss in eng were all DL losses and india would have won if rain had not affected but now have to prove in cb series and asia cup the fact test cricket outside subcontinent it tooks years to remove that tag of being poor tourist it has again come to haunt us now hopefully in the rest of the aus test series they can show the world thats not the truth and eng was a accident still time is there

  • on January 2, 2012, 10:04 GMT

    Wonder why people are thinking India is off guard in test cricket just a series loss in England and thats it people are going blah blah blah over India ....come on guys, early days for every team to get to top spot in test cricket after Australia have been dethroned from no 1 spot and let me tell my friend's from all countries there is musical chair game going on at the moment for no 1 spot so guys wait and watch!!!

  • snagaraj87 on January 2, 2012, 10:23 GMT

    The reason why India does not and cannot do well in tests in Australia and England is simple - it is difficult for batsmen bred on low bouncing wickets to "adjust up" within a span of a few weeks or months. Unless, Indian batsmen play county cricket in Australia or England this weakness will always remain. Thanks to IPL that is unlikely to happen. Unless, India develops a bowling arsenal that can blow up the opposition batsmen... and do not rely on the batting "legends" exclusively, India is likely to face real possibilities of brown-washes on such tours.

  • snagaraj87 on January 2, 2012, 10:37 GMT

    Sri Lanka in 1996 was neither youthful surprise nor did they have to survive on the skin of their teeth unless we think Aravinda, Asanka and Arjuna were youthful! Even the younger brigade of Murali, Jaysuriya and Vaas were grizzled by then. Also, not at any point were they remotely close to getting knocked out .. even during the knock out matches! Yes, Australia in 1999 and Pakistan in 1992 were examples where they were one bad stroke/one catch/one sunny day away from being knocked out and rode on an element of remarkable luck in the league stages