Deserved champs


No longer will Indian cricket be synonymous only with financial clout. The Indian team has been a powerhouse in world cricket for a while now without getting the due it deserves. Now, by comprehensively reaching the number one ranking in the ICC Test Championship table, India have provided official, conclusive proof of their standing in the international community. The climb has been steady rather than spectacular, gradual as opposed to overnight, a tribute to the team’s consistency over an extended period of time and to its ability now to perform as well overseas as at home. It has entailed broad vision from the coaching staff and complete commitment from the men out in the middle, because without total focus and single-mindedness of purpose, it is next to impossible to move ahead of the likes of Australia and South Africa, until Sunday the top-ranked Test team.
It isn’t merely in Test cricket that India are a formidable force. Twice this year, even if briefly, they reached the pinnacle in the one-day format, and could have held the number one position in both formats simultaneously had they overcome Australia during last month’s home series. One of the primary reasons for India’s progress has been the presence of an influential, impressive core group that has survived the test of time, that understands each other brilliantly, that has learnt to enjoy each others’ success but, most significantly, has realised the importance of putting team above self. Individual accomplishments are still celebrated with abandon, but nothing delights the team more than collective success, a tribute to the leadership group of the last few years that extends beyond the man at the helm.

For Mahendra Singh Dhoni’s India, Dec 6, 2009, will forever be a red-letter day, but it won’t be the end in itself. The big challenge now is to build on the gains of the last few years, because getting to the top is nowhere near as difficult as staying there. It won’t help that India don’t have too many Tests lined up in the next six months, but while as a nation we are obsessed with numbers, the men who make up the team themselves attach more significance to concentrating their energies on their cricket, not unaware that if they continue to play well, the rankings will take care of themselves. That’s in the future. For now, it’s time to salute Dhoni’s warriors, because not often have we had opportunities as a country to toast team successes.

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