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Millennium Post

Indian cricket in for sterner Tests

For the next eight months Indian cricketers can relax and savour the best ever series victory in their 80-year test history against an Australian team dubbed the worst in recent memory.

Without getting unduly excited about the team’s showing, can we honestly say the series against Australia has enhanced the stature of Test cricket during which matches barely lasted a little over three days?

If India’s performance against England fell short of expectations, they were clearly head and shoulders above Australia. Now when they next tour South Africa and then New Zealand it will again be a different ball game. There the real character of the team will be known.

Indian cricket administrators, selectors and players showed remarkable resilience after being thrashed black and blue on two major overseas tours in the last 18 months.

Even after the horrible returns from England and Australia, the administrators here did not panic like they did Down Under in the aftermath of the back-to-back Ashes defeats and set up a high-powered Argus Review.

There were hysterical calls for the head of Mahendra Singh Dhoni; leading the chorus were the demigods of cricket. Now after the whitewash they have joined the Hail-Dhoni bandwagon without even a hint of apology.

Dhoni’s proximity to Board chief Narayanswamy Srinivasan is all too well known. Srinivasan went a step further in brazenly publicising the relationship by stopping the selectors from sacking him and instead gave him a free hand to reorganise his forces telling the national selectors to fall in line.

The result was to get rid of heroes without a care for sentiments. First, a message went to V V S Laxman that he will have a farewell series, but that won’t be against his favourite opponents Australia.

Caring more for Indian cricket and his self-respect, the genial Hyderabadi retaliated like an honest man and announced his retirement, saying he wanted to give his replacement ten Tests at home before he embarks on sterner tests overseas.

The other two men marked down on the tour of Australia for their lack of performance on the field and the trust off it - Virender Sehwag and Gautam Gambhir. Before that in England, Harbhajan was made to realise his days were numbered and was just allowed to play his 100th Test. Zaheer Khan read the captain’s mind and did not try to make a serious attempt to challenge his unending injuries or his falling status.

Dhoni has admitted he has changed his style of captaincy. In this series he could be seen charging and jumping for high fives after every dismissal and shouting his instructions for the stump microphone to resonate them. (IANS)
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