After suffering back-to-back home series defeats against England and Pakistan, respectively, India’s build up to the five-match ODI series against the former was far from ideal. And after the English batsmen, including even Samit Patel, butchered hapless Indian bowlers to post a comfortable victory in Rajkot, the Men in Blue had their backs against the wall, forcing a group of former players, officials and a section of media to call for their heads.
Amidst this background, India’s turn-around with thumping victories at Kochi and Ranchi did come as a pleasant surprise. What made the wins look better was the composure with which skipper MS Dhoni steered the team. Coming in at a tricky stage, MS played a sublime knock (72) to put India back on track in a jam-packed Nehru Stadium in Kochi. In recent times, MS’s place in the side has come under scanner, and looking objectively, the skipper’s inconsistent form in the longer version, backed by the team’s poor showing, didn’t do any thing to silence his critics. However, MS’s ODI form, right from the series in England in 2011, has been terrific which makes him arguably the best man to lead India at present. At his hometown Ranchi, MS displayed sharp improvement in his wicketkeeping skills, something he has really worked upon. However, though the present team looks hungry and positive, the selectors should seriously think of including Cheteshwar Pujara in the playing eleven. He has been a class act in Tests besides having a brilliant average of 56.97 in domestic one-dayers. In the batting-friendly pitches of the sub-continent, you need a batsman who will hold one end and score freely too. Something which Rahul Dravid did with distinction. When a team loses successive matches at favourable conditions poorly, cricket critics, are bound to call for drastic changes. But India just showed it can regain the lost pride if it tries hard.