The contemporary Indian team is amongst the favorites to win the 2019 world cup. The reason? They are good at all dimensions of the game – batting, bowling, and fielding. Additionally, they have the belief and fitness to go long in the tournament. In modern-day cricket, England is the only balanced team than Team India.
Like all other great teams of the past, India hasn’t become the favorites overnight. It’s a long journey in the making. Through this blog, let us look at the road to this success, which started some 18-19 years ago.
Belief: The Key
Back in the 2000-2001 season, Team India had the likes of Tendulkar, Ganguly, Dravid, Kumble, and Srinath. However, the team failed to win the major tournaments even with these star-performers. As a skipper, Ganguly’s first task was to find the lacking ingredient for the team’s success.
To his credit, he quickly assessed the ingredient to be the belief – of winning – within the team. Though the team had the skills to execute, they lacked the belief in themselves. He not just instilled the belief into the existing players, but backed the novices like Sehwag, Yuvraj, Zaheer, Harbhajan, Irfan Pathan and many more. Many Indian fans still believe that Dada changed the face of Indian cricket in his era by instilling the confidence in the team. 2001 test series win against Australia at home and 2003-04 drawn test series down under are a couple of best examples of what belief can do.
The Fielding Dimension
In contemporary cricket, fielding is considered to be the third and very import dimension of the game. As they say, a number of runs saved in the field are a number of runs scored. However, back in 2007-08, team India lacked the intensity in the field except for the likes of Yuvraj and couple of other guys. Thus, the team would end up giving away 15-20 runs more.
During the first 2-3 years of his tenure as a Skipper, MS Dhoni started floating a point of better performance in the field. Remember the controversy of rotating players like Sehwag, Gambhir, and Sachin? It was all thanks to the fact that the team ends up giving more runs because of such players moving slowly in the field.
Pertaining to this stand taken by MS Dhoni, team India has shown tremendous improvement in the field since then. In the last 4-5 years, the team has rung up the ladders to become one of the best fielding sides in the world. In the recent past, few fielding instances have even changed the course of the game.
To sum it up, better fielding has added more belief into the team, of winning the games even with the fielding.
Fitness: The Mantra
Even after two major changes by two commendable skippers, fitness always remained the issue for the BCCI administered team. Fitness was a major issue amongst the bowlers more than the batsmen – especially the pacers. The fast bowlers would start bowling at mid-130 Kph and go up to 140-145 kph. However, the glaring struggle was near the end of longer spells, where they would struggle to keep the pace, line, and length.
Being a senior player in the team, Virat Kohli – the fitness freak himself – was quite aware of this issue. Hence, he addressed the issue as soon as he took over the reins of the team. Mohammed Shami and Umesh Yadav are the two best examples of fitness transformation amongst the pace bowlers.
Walking down the memory lane, the India-Australia test series saw the rise of fitter Umesh Yadav. He bowled the last delivery of the tournament in Dharamsala with as much intensity and pace, as he did in the first match of that series. The list of such examples is long, but it may take a separate blog if noted. 🙂
The belief, the skills, and fitness have been the keys to consistent overseas wins in the last few years. It is the string of consistent performances makes the teams India one of the favorites to win the world cup 2019. If team India continues to perform consistently, we may witness the “Rise of an Indian Era” in the future.