Vantage point

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Let's take a deep breath..

There's nothing new about everyone and their uncle in the Indian media crowing about the Indian team being the "best in the world" after any major triumph from our cricket team. It happened after we drew with Australia in 2004 and then beat Pakistan in Pakistan. It happened after the T20 World Cup in 2007. And it has been happening after India beat Australia 2-0.

But what baffles me is that a lot of foreign journalists also seem to be buying into the hype. Suddenly it has become fashionable to call India the best test team in the world at the moment. Everyone, including foreign journalists has been calling 2008 a remarkably successful year for the Indian team. So it's time for a reality check.

Hopefully, South Africa's series win after triumph in the MCG test will shift the spotlight to them. But even otherwise.... India...currently the best team in the world? Please! Where is the record to back it up? Granted we have been playing pretty decent cricket recently. And we steamrolled the Aussies, walloped them in a one-sided contest, and then prevailed over England. But what about the time before that?

Before that, we were comprehensively trounced by two men - Muralitharan and Mendis, in Sri Lanka. Heck, if not for a dazzling double century by Virender Sehwag, we might have been whitewashed. The Sri Lankan batsmen handled our bowlers with relative ease, and our ultra-established and all-time-great middle order had no answers to the puzzles a young spinner threw our way. We were outplayed in all departments on the subcontinent itself.

And before that, what happened when South Africa came to India? They were supposed to roll over and play dead. Instead, they drew the Chennai test, thrashed us in Ahmedabad, and if not for the typical dustbowl in Kanpur, might have won the series. Steyn took 15 wickets at an average of 20, a Mcgrath-esque achievement, and even the other two pacers outperformed the Indian pacers. Their batsmen outperformed ours.

So please. Let's all take a deep breath. And agree that India is a pretty good test side. Maybe one of the top 3 or 4 sides in the world. But the best? Pshaw!!