Indians on their way back

Dhonis men appear to have found their range after a tough phase

Indians on their way back

After briefly conceding ground at home against England last year, India have come back strongly with two victories against Australia in as many Tests of the ongoing series for the Border-Gavaskar Trophy.

At the risk of sounding pessimistic, one has to say that the series still needs to be won and the deep wounds suffered over the last one and half years — when they endured two 4-0 whitewashes in England and Australia and a 1-2 loss at home to the Englishmen — are yet to be healed completely. But India finally appear to be picking themselves up.

Normally, every home victory is received with a tinge of cynicism but it’s more so in India. A spinner has to take wickets in Australia or England or South Africa to prove his worth.

A batsman has to pile on runs on the bouncy wickets and seaming conditions and not just on turning tracks. And the team has to win away from home to earn respect. Agreed, to be considered a great bowler or a batsman or even a team, one has to deliver goods in hostile conditions but that benchmark shouldn’t undermine every victory, each five-wicket haul or each century at home.

We have created such a mindset that even the players feel incomplete unless they succeed overseas where conditions aren’t exactly friendly. While the attitude in itself isn’t misplaced, it’s borne from the fact that performances in familiar environs are considered less superior. 
 
“I think he watches too much of channels because that’s what really happens,” reasoned MS Dhoni in a lighter note when pointed out that Cheteshwar Pujara, in an interview, had said he would be happy only if he proves himself away from home. “I always say you need to be in the present,” he continued on a more serious note.
“Of course he has set his own standards but what is important is to enjoy what you have done. What he has done or what anyone has done. No point in saying ‘you have done well in India now go out and do it and we will judge you as a batsman.’ Why can’t we just leave him with the kind of batting he did in this particular Test match. Yeah he himself said it but that’s my point; we all love to comment that way but it’s also important to enjoy the moment. That will be my suggestion to him. He will score runs and that’s a different story,” the Indian skipper offered.

There’s a change in the thinking among Australian cricketers who are not blaming the wickets for their struggles. Instead they have realised that there is a problem and it has to be addressed honestly. It’s a refreshing transformation from the earlier condescending attitude that suggested being good on pace-friendly pitches was superior to being good on turning tracks. 
   
“The best question that often gets asked when we go to England or Australia is ‘why we don’t play on sporting wickets back home in India,’” remarked MS Dhoni when asked why there’s such a yawning gap in performances at home and away. Australia trounced India 4-0 when they toured Down Under last while Michael Clarke and company are staring at a similar drubbing having lost the first two Tests. 
 
“The question applies to each team. You have to realise that 70 to 80 per cent of the matches you play in your home conditions and you have to be good there. As I always say, once you go abroad, the conditions are totally different and that’s the challenge. That’s what improves our Test cricket over a period of time.

“I think the sides that have players who have toured the sub-continent or we, who have played in other countries, have been able to perform quite consistently. It’s still a challenge but I think that’s what is special about Test cricket. You go abroad, you have different conditions and you come to the sub-continent the wicket becomes slow and low. If everything becomes the same, Test cricket won’t be challenging,” he explained.  

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