India taxiing on the runway of success

Written by: Sunil Vasudeva
Published: Thursday, August 26, 2004, 17:39 [IST]
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Hearty congratulations to the English and the Sri Lankans for their series wins against West Indies and South Africa respectively. What amazes me about the English is that despite the spate of injuries they still found the wherewithal to upend their opponent. Ditto for Sri Lanka who were without the services of Muttiah Muralitharan against the Proteas.

The recent success of England is definitely due to the excellent structure of their domestic cricket circuit. Even though overseas players are not in large numbers in the County cricket scene, the English players still get to face quality players from overseas. There is no chance they will ever play substandard players because that kind does not last long in the English league.

The Lankans too did a marvellous job against the Proteas. I was pleasantly surprised to see that no one from the opposition whined about Malinga's unique bowling action. Maybe this trend of putting Asian bowlers under a critical microscope is ending. But then, you never know when that ugly beast may raise its head again and begin churning the calm waters of cricket.

So on the runway to success; one can safely say that England and Sri Lanka have taken off with all engines firing. India on the other hand seems to be taxiing on and on waiting for the opportune time to take off.

The Dutch tri-series was definitely not a shot in the arm. First losing Tendulkar to tennis elbow, Harbhajan and Ashish to viral fever, then getting pile driven by the Pakistanis was not a pretty start. However, to be among the toppers, one has to rebound from failures. The rains too played a part in India's dismal show in Holland. That was tantamount to the control tower telling a plane to wait and the pilots having to comply.

Before the India-Pakistan match, Bob Woolmer warned that he was going to unleash Shahid Afridi on Indians and he was right. The surprise here was that Afridi did not inflict damage with the bat but with the ball! Probably the Indians thought after getting him out that the threat was over. But worse was yet to come.

Had the game against Australia been completed, would India have won? We will never know. However, they did play positive cricket while the Aussies were batting. The Indians need to realise now more than ever that a positive start is crucial in any tournament and not a sluggish one. Don't repeatedly prove Greg Chappell's estimate of you as "champion chokers".

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