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India Finally In Top Position They Belong

By Orin Davidson
Coach less and lacking confidence, India taught England a lesson about rebounding with their upset 1-0 Test series win earlier in the week.

You have to it to them, all the kudos you can muster for a victory that seemed improbable after the Rahul Dravid -led squad was thoroughly outplayed in the first Test.

India showed the rest of the world's struggling Test teams the value of experience, which when coupled with the youth element paid major dividends for a well earned triumph.

Significantly none of the specialist batsmen scored any centuries, but they all chipped in when necessary.

The same can be said of the bowlers who produced the type pf consistency only Australia is known for these days.

Sachin Tendulkar might have ended his final tour of England without adding to his world record century statistic, but he is savoring a memorable Test series triumph in England for the first time.

His contributions were measured, but valuable as were those of Sourav Ganguly, VVS Laxman and captain Rahul Dravid.

You get the feeling India's mammoth advantage in player- population over the rest o the world is finally beginning to impact.

Dinesh Karthik compiled 343 runs for an average of 57 to emerge as a young opener of genuine class. Wasim Jaffar has been there before him, who along with Mahindra Dhoni formed a solid bridge between newcomer Karthik and the experienced cast.

When you consider another young opener Robin Utappa who came on board with flying colors in the limited overs team last year, India's riches are fully exemplified.
He was not in this squad, but would be an automatic Test pick in many established world Test teams, as is Virendra Sehwag, who was discarded after a bad patch, every international player experiences.

Top class spinner Harbhajan Singh could not find a way in the squad either, and when you consider the talented up coming spinner Piyush Chawla, the latter's future seems dim.

With Santh Sreesanth and RP Singh providing brilliant support for Man-of-the-Series Zaheer Khan and Kumble, India's bowling stock is fast becoming the envy of the world outside of Australia.

The unavailability of previous bowling spearhead Munaf Patel for the series drives home the point.

Khan's experience playing with Worcestershire county, laid the foundation for that win on that memorable first day at Trent Bridge when he swung the ball like a 'buck top' and shot out England.

The performance must have rubbed off on the younger guns, Sreesanth and Singh who got it right at key periods.

Bowling wins matches after batting sets the tone.

Tendulkar and company found their groove like they did, not since they held powerful Australia to a draw five years ago in Australia or when India produced the mother of all comebacks one year prior at home to stop the world champions, at home.

For the first time in ages, the Indians were not intimidated by the Englishmen on or off the ball.
Khan objected firm during the jelly bean throwing incident, Sreesanth banged shoulders with England captain Michael Vaughn and even Kumble gave as much verbals as he got on the field.

It was indicative of the type of toughness teams need to succeed at the highest level.

After sometime in the wilderness, Ganguly eased himself seamlessly back with runs he is accustomed to dishing out, without having to bother about departed coach Greg Chappell over his shoulder.
So far Chappell’s Ian has not bothered to assess India's victory with his sibling out of the picture.

In the past Ian Chappell placed the blame on the shoulders of Ganguly, Tendulkar and others when the runs dried up. And because Ian is not keen on coaches, he would've been expected to jump on coach less India’s triumph through his Cricinfo column.

You might well hear him highlighting Dravid's failure to go for victory in the final Test, instead.

Needless to say, it was a disappointing decision that robbed India of a comprehensive 2-0 victory after dominating the home team throughout at the Oval.

Dravid decided to play it safe by not enforcing the follow-on when he had England at his mercy, on the fourth day.

Instead he batted for a second time and allowed England the time to hold on for a face- saving draw.

In Australia such a decision would be crucified. It is why their culture of winning has taken them many levels about the rest of the world.

India should hope the confidence England gained at the Oval would not rub off in the seven one-dayers upcoming.

Nevertheless they could look forward to their next Test series with optimism, knowing they passed a major Test in England.
Orin Davidson Column Homepage

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