Tuesday, December 19, 2006

One Eyed?

I've often been labelled as being a bit one-eyed in my support of (and faith in) Team India in cricket. A recent episode wherein I questioned my friends' lack of belief/faith in the team (in response to a comment around "I think they let South Africa get away in the first innings (of the 1st test in the ongoing 2006-07 series between South Africa and India). They should have bundled them out for less than 84"!!!!) got me into an argument mode and then led me to a deeper inquiry of why I have so much faith in this team than any other past teams.

Believe me, I have been a believer in Team India only after Mohammed Azharuddin departed as captain. That one event (and the concommitant dragging down of Manoj Prabhakar) turned me from being a non-believer into one that has faith in this team. It marked what was probably, in my view at least, the brightest spark in Indian cricket. The structuring of this current team (I am talking Test team here by the way) commenced at that point in time, in my view. It has then progressed through the captaincy of Sachin and Ganguly before it rests very comfortably in Dravid's shoulders.

Listen to Dravid's interview on Cricinfo and decide for yourself on the clarity of the thought process in this group. He clearly states, even amidst the euphoria surrounding the win, that there are areas where the team can improve. The team knows that the South Africans will be hungry and will come at them hard. They know they have areas to improve. They aren't getting carried away. They want to play a 2-day game prior to the second Test to iron out a few areas where it can improve.

It is such clarity of thought that convinces me that Team India is worth reposing faith in.

It is possible that India may still lose this series. It would be disappointing if that were to happen. But it could happen. The South africans will come back hard at India. But I believe there is a will to fight it out; a strength to guts it out; an ability to back it up with performances...

Ganguly (along with John Wright) taught this team pride and self-belief. Dravid (along with Greg Chappell) is providing them with collective steel and process-hygiene ("focus on the process and not the outcomes").

I have faith in them as a Test group. Yes, they will screw up every now and then. Yes, they won't score 95,965 runs every time they go out to bat. Yes, Saurav Ganguly will play a rash stroke and get out for 25. Yes, they will bowl out the opposition for "only" 84! Yes, they will never have either the fighting spirit or the energy of the Australian team. And every now and then, they will make a complete hash of things, as they did in Pakistan earlier this year in the Tests. But, more often than not, they will play their hearts out and play with pride. And that's enough for me!

Meanwhile, while I still remain a great fan of Ganguly (play with pride and play with spirit... a leader who has inspired his players to give off their best) Dravid is providing inspirational leadership in his own way:

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