No this post has nothing to do with Adidas. Well, in a way yes, it does. Adidas had Sachin Tendulkar as their brand ambassador. This post is about the current Indian ODI cricket team. A lot of talk has been going around on how good this team is. Former cricketers, journalists, and cricket historians are hailing this team as the best to have ever played for India. Debates on whether this team is better than Kapil’s Devils of 1983 and Sourav’s boys of 2003 is raging on every news channel. Sehwag and Tendulkar categorically stated that this is the best batting lineup they have ever been a part of. Srinath, the greatest Indian fast bowler after Kapil reckons this is the best bowling attack India has ever had. Ian Chappell goes a step further – he says that this is the best bowling attack in the world right now.
So, how good really is this team? Let’s go back to the Twenty20 World Cup in South Africa. India arrived in South Africa minus the Big Three (Sourav, Dravid, Sachin). No one believed India even had a remote chance. Afterall they were without their stars, they had no experience in the format and worse they were led by a man who hadn’t even captained his school team! But, they achieved the Impossible – they won the tournament. They beat Pakistan, South Africa, England and Australia on their way to the title of World T20 Champions. This was the first victory by an Indian team in an ICC event, after the 1983 World Cup. Overnight, MS Dhoni achieved cult status. Since then this Indian team has gone from strength to strength.
While the T20 World Cup was on, Dravid relinquished the ODI captaincy and Dhoni was given the job. Since he has taken over, he has led India to some famous victories. Australia in Australia in early 2008, Sri Lanka in Sri Lanka, England in India, Sri Lanka in Sri Lanka again and now New Zealand in New Zealand. Incidentally this is India’s maiden ODI series triumph in New Zealand. That’s hard to believe, isn’t it? The last time India won a bilateral series in New Zealand was 41 years ago under a young and aggressive captain who led from the front – MAK Pataudi. India won the test series 3-1 back then. 41 years on, India has won under another young and aggressive captain. The scoreline: 3-1 again.
Back to the question then. How good really is this team? Let’s compare this bunch to the two squads that led India to glory.
1. The Indian team under Kapil Dev from 1983 to 1985
2. Sourav’s boys in 2003
The team under Kapil Dev that won the World Cup in 1983 and the Benson & Hedges Cup in 1985 was a very balanced unit. It boasted of some fine batsmen, some very good bowlers and an array of all-rounders. Gavaskar, Srikkanth, Azhar, Binny, Shastri, Amarnath, Vengsarkar, and Kapil himself. Wow! I will not compare the stats of this group of players with the one playing now because the way the one-day game is played today is very different from the way it was played back then. However, if I compare the names in the 1983-85 side with the names in today’s team, the latter will look much paler.
Now let’s compare today’s team with the 2003 team. Yes, 5 players from this team did duty in 2003 as well but if I compare the names in both teams, the team of 2003 looks more illustrious. Let’s compare stats then. The team of 2003 had 3 batsmen with an average of over 40 (Dravid, Ganguly, Tendulkar), while the current team has just 2 (Tendulkar, Dhoni). The team of 2003 had 4 bowlers with an average of less than 30 (Kumble, Srinath, Agarkar, Zaheer); the current team has just 1 (Zaheer).
So the question is, why does this team win more often than the ones of 1983 and 2003? Why does this team perform better overseas? Why does this team get more respect? Why does this team win more tournaments? Well the answer is that this team believes in itself. This team backs itself to win matches from any situation. This team does not rely on individual brilliance. This team is hungrier and most imortantly happier. The team truly believes ‘Impossible is Nothing’. The team is packed with wonderful strokemakers who can clear the boundary at will. Almost every batsman in this team has a career strike rate of over 90. They take the game by the scruff of its neck and don’t loosen the grip. They indimidate and then beat the opposition into submission.
This Indian team is marching towards the no. 1 spot in ODIs and has a very strong chance of winning the T20 World Cup in June and the World Cup in 2011. Impossible is Nothing.