Sunday, July 11, 2010


India's traditional strengths have always been its line-up of spin bowlers and batsmen. Currently, it has a very strong batting lineup with Rahul Dravid, Sachin Tendulkar and Virender Sehwag all being selected to play for the ICC World XI in the 2005 "SuperTest" against Australia. In previous times, India was unique in that it was the only country to regularly field three spinners in one team, whereas one is the norm, and of the fifteen players to have taken more than 100 wickets, only four were pace bowlers from the last 20 years.However in recent years, Indian pace bowling has improved, with the emerging talents of Irfan Pathan, Munaf Patel and Sreesanth and many more playing in the national team.

Historically, the Indian team has not performed as well overseas as it has in India. Since the year 2000, the Indian team underwent major improvements under the guidance of Coach John Wright and Captain Saurav Ganguly. The team drew a Test series with Australia in Australia, which is usually considered a tough tour. It was followed by a historic Test and ODI series win against arch-rivals Pakistan while playing in Pakistan.

India has had a very good record against Australia and, before the 2004/05 tour, never being defeated by Australia in a Test Series in India since 1969. This was the reason for Australian captain Steve Waugh labeling India as the "Final Frontier". The famous 2001 Australian tour of India saw Harbhajan Singh become the first Indian to take a Test hat-trick and started a good run for the team, as India beat Australia 2-1. India became runners up to Australia in the final of the 2003 Cricket World Cup.

Since 2004, India had not been doing as well in One-day Internationals. The players who took India to great heights over the past ten years such as Sachin Tendulkar, Sourav Ganguly and Anil Kumble grew older and did not maintain their form and fitness. Following the series loss to Australia, India collapsed on the final day in the Third Test in Bangalore in early 2005 against Pakistan to squander a series victory, and then lost four consecutive ODIs against Pakistan. This was exacerbated by the suspension handed to captain Ganguly for slow over-rates. Greg Chappell took over from John Wright as the new coach of the Indian cricket team following the series, and replaced Kumble and V. V. S. Laxman from the ODI team with younger players. India's unconvincing ODI form continued, scraping past a West Indian team depleted by industrial action in the 2005 Indian Oil Cup and a similarly depleted Zimbabwean team only to be defeated twice in the finals by New Zealand, continuing a poor ODI finals record.

The tension resulted in fallout between Chappell and Ganguly lead to a confidential email sent by Chappell to the BCCI being leaked, in which he condemned the leadership and performance of Ganguly. After a series of high profile board meetings and public jousting including some players, Rahul Dravid was installed as the captain, triggering a revival in the team's fortunes. The Indians subsequently defeated Sri Lanka 6-1 in a home series. An important part about this series was the discovery of the young talent of the team, including Mahendra Singh Dhoni, Suresh Raina, Gautam Gambhir and Irfan Pathan. The team also beat the Sri Lankans in the Test series 2-0 to displace England from its position in second place in the ICC Test rankings, but India slipped back by losing the high-profile series to Pakistan. Indian team continued its good form in ODIs, beating Pakistan 4-1 in Pakistan. India achieved the world-record of winning 17 successive matches chasing the total. India convincingly won England's tour of India winning the series 5-1. After leveling the DLF Cup series 1-1 in Abu Dhabi, India traveled to West Indies where they lost the ODI series 1-4 to a weak West Indies team which was ranked 8th in the ICC ODI Ranking. The series loss again questioned the Indian team's ability to play away from the Sub-continent and the chances of the Indian team to win the 2007 Cricket World Cup. The Indian team later clinched the Test series against West Indies 1-0, the first Indian series win in the Caribbean since Ajit Wadekar in 1971.

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