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A fickle season


The strange summer series turned the power balance in the world upside down with England, the perennial bridesmaid, finally getting their hands on the No. 1 Crown. World Cup winners India, on the other hand, capitulated in a manner more reminiscent of Zimbabwe in the post-Flowers era. It was a drubbing, a whitewash, an absolute murder and whatever else the British media would have you believe.

Simply put Indians struggled with injuries and form against an English side that seemed to be performing at its best. And it is no one else’s fault but the Indian Cricket team’s management that things happened such. Lack of practice matches, lack of fitness, players rushed in from injuries and players rushed in from holidays, Media got it all on a platter.

When the Indians returned licking their wounds the stage was set up perfectly for round 2. England were scheduled to fly down for the 5 match ODI series. Even though the Indian fans were quick to jump on the media bandwagon that this will be a revenge series and that India will demolish the English side in this series, the fact that Sachin, Sehwag, and Zaheer were ruled out of the series gave plenty hope to the English. They arrived for the two practice matches and won both, the second one in such a convincing manner that they had some of the local fans worrying. But practice is practice and a match is a different story altogether.

Half way through the first inning of the first ODI it seemed the fans’ fears weren’t unfounded. Indians were deep in trouble on a flat track at 123/4 in 29th over. But Raina and MSD, both of whom returned from England with their reputation tarnished, shined with the bat taking apart the English attack meticulously as the mighty Indian batting line up finally flexed its muscles on its way to a very competitive 300/7. 

Well begun is half done, but with the Indian pace attack missing Zaheer, Ishant, and even Sreesanth this was no way done and dusted. PK continued to be the scourge tormenting the English all summer as he picked up Kieswetter early. Cook and Pietersen batted smartly, keeping the strike rotating with sharp singles before one of the singles turned out to be too sharp and KP was on his way. Cook was batting very well but Trott’s approach was totally wrong for the target they were chasing and it was the pressure created more by his dour strike rate than the bowling that triggered the collapse. Jadeja and Ashwin made the most of the pressure cooker created by the high RRR as they picked up 6 wickets between them as India completed a comprehensive win by bowling them out within 40 overs. 

A great win no doubt and a much needed one. But can India do one better and inflict a humiliation that can ease the pain of the drubbing they received. Can they keep up the intensity and passion for 4 more games? More importantly, Can they regain the belief that they are the World Champions? It is very important that they do. For a sterner test of character and self belief await Down Under.

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