How high can India go?

Written by: Sunil Vasudeva
Published: Thursday, April 29, 2004, 11:15 [IST]
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After their recent triumph in Pakistan, the Indian cricket team can only reach greater heights. They are the only team in the International Cricket Council (ICC) Test rankings to have won a series against Australia and tied the other! No other team in the ICC rankings can boast that achievement. So where does India go from here? Only higher.

The Indian batting line-up is the envy of all teams barring the Aussies who more or less have an equally good one. The bowling seems to be on the up with Pathan and Balaji being the front runners there. Hopefully, these two will remain injury free unlike Zaheer and Ashish. Agarkar may be buried for a long time now. In the spin department, no one can rival Harbhajan Singh for the second spinner's spot alongside Kumble. As far as the opening slot goes, Aakash Chopra gave Sehwag great support, but then Parthiv Patel showed his skill in the Rawalpindi Test and now those options are open. A pleasant dilemma.

At present, the Indian team boasts four players with batting averages in the 50's (Dravid, Tendulkar, Sehwag, and Yuvraj) but only two bowlers with bowling averages under 30 (Kumble and Harbhajan). Hopefully, Pathan and Balaji will follow suit alongwith Zaheer. Balaji has brought his bowling average down by leaps and bounds (remember he started out at 105.00!) and that is a great achievement!

I hope the controversy surrounding Muralitharan dies. He is a great bowler. It is interesting to note that more Asian bowlers are reported for chucking. Just because their non-Asian counterparts find it hard to handle their bowling does not automatically make then chuckers! When Brett Lee was accused of chucking, the tests were done and once the matter was laid to rest by experts, all the Asian cricketers were satisfied and got on with cricket.

One cannot say the same thing about the non-Asian players though. When they found Shoaib too hot to handle, their solution, "He must be chucking". When they found Harbhajan hard to figure out, the same old harp of "He must be chucking" comes out again!

Then came Murali. He was exonerated once only to be dragged into that mire again by his across the continent peers as well as umpires. For Harbhajan's sake, I hope when he returns he won't be ultra-devastating because he might find himself in that same quarantine as Shoaib, and Murali! Mark my words - the chucking card will be flagged again if Harbhajan inflicts the same nightmares in the upcoming Tests against his foreign rivals.

If Asian spin or sheer pace is too wily to figure out, then practise, practise, practise, how to master it. Not whine, whine, and whine. Get a life people! What is even worse is that the governing body is too eager to come down on the imagined "chuckers" and destroy their self-confidence and morale.

If a non-Asian player is confronted with the same, it goes out of its way to exonerate him! Why the double standards? In fact, one official even commented sardonically, "Are the Asians teaching us how to play cricket?" My answer is: "Maybe they are teaching you a trick or two that your egos are too fragile to swallow". GROW UP! So what if the Asians are dominating cricket. It just shows they've improved!

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