Showing promise aplenty

The young Indian team under Dhoni has impressed all with its vibrant outings

Showing promise aplenty

The last time India travelled to England for a full-fledged bilateral series, finding a win in an international match for them was as easy as spotting a polar bear in a desert.

They were whitewashed in the four-Test series and were beaten in the lone T20 match which was followed by a 3-0 loss in five ODIs. The closest to win they came was when they escaped with a tie in the Lord’s one-dayer.

The team, understandably, was riled and ridiculed for putting up such a horrid show. It was from this drubbing that MS Dhoni’s stock as captain began to dwindle, hit the cellar after another 0-4 hiding Down Under before he re-established his authority with a similar drubbing of Australia at home.

The English media even accused the Indian team of not respecting their number one Test ranking which they conceded to England after the series loss. Cut to the present, though, the scenario is exactly the opposite of what India experienced in 2011. Of course, it’s just a one-day tournament but as the top-ranked team in ODIs, Dhoni’s men have left everyone impressed with their performance. Having notched up three wins in a row, they are strong favourites to win the last edition of the Champions Trophy.

It’s not, however, just about these three wins. It’s also about the brand of cricket they have been playing in the meet. They have been both efficient and entertaining that has been the talking point of the eight-nation tournament. Seldom has an Indian side managed to put up such all-round shows consistently. Through most part of their history, batting has been India’s major strength while they have produced quality bowlers from time to time. Their fielding though has never been spoken in the same breath. Indian teams till the recent past have had two-three quality fielders on most times, but never had the luxury of possessing six-seven players of international standard at the same time.

“We have not been known for our fielding standards, but I think right now we are the best fielding side,” remarked Dhoni, who is generally conservative in his praise. When the young team was picked for the tournament, ignoring the struggling stars, more than a few eye brows were raised. After all, leaving out the likes of Gautam Gambhir, Virender Sehwag, Yuvraj Singh and Harbhajan Singh was never going to be an easy decision but the selectors, whose job is as thankless as that of a wicketkeeper, need to be applauded for the tough calls they took.
    
To top a pool, which was considered the ‘group of death’, with such an inexperienced side in these conditions is no small accomplishment. Irrespective of how they eventually finish the tournament, the performance thus far has given enough indications of the potential the current squad has.

More importantly, the time is on its side. The energy and the exuberance of youth is always infectious. At an average age of 26, India are the youngest team in the tournament with Dhoni being the oldest member of the unit at 31. Of course, some of them will make way for others periodically but if the identified core remains the same, it can develop into a dominant side.   

The good vibe between the players and the captain too has been apparent. Quite naturally, Dhoni finds it more comfortable leading a bunch of players who have no egos to nurse. “Actually, he's an old‑school and calm captain,” pointed out Bhuvneshwar Kumar. “He just wants you to do your best, just forget about anything else. He doesn’t want us to worry about what happened in the past or previous matches; just do your best in the present match.”

Dhoni is a great believer in being in the present, but he may just be charting the future course for the Indian team.

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