Cricket fans in Bikaner celebrate Team India's victory over Pakistan in the T20 WC final.
Early Wednesday morning, our 15 young world champions will arrive in Mumbai and be taken by motorcade to the Wankhede Stadium, where they will be grandly felicitated.
Kyunki ODIs aren’t T20…
* Australia don’t like T20 because they feel it lets the second-best team win. We are the world’s best T20 side, but in ODIs, we’re not even second-best.
* In T20, one bad over can kill you. An ODI gives you a second chance. And good teams can turn second chances into victories.
* Those who’ve propelled India for so long can also slow them down. As the older pros return, fielding will dip. And Dhoni will have a job handling 3 ex-captains.
* Both Oz and Pak will have murder on their minds. The thought will bring Dhoni no comfort.
Dhoni’s Devils, each seemingly younger than the other (the team has an average age of 26.3) will probably laugh and shout and take pictures and potshots at each other, enjoy every moment, just as Dhoni says they did right through the T20 tourney.
All but five though, will then get back to the business of cricket and leave for Bangalore. A far more enervating task lies ahead: a seven-match series beginning Saturday against one-day world champions Australia. And against them, India’s chances are, at best, only 50-50 — Oz are the greatest, and they will be very angry.
Dhoni himself has repeatedly said, “There is a big difference between 20 and 50-over cricket”, and to maintain that kind of intensity over 50 overs, forget a 100, is difficult.
MSD, a calm, sensible young man, who dislikes pretension, backs himself and his instincts, stands by his mates and firmly believes that life is about discovery, is a hugely exciting prospect for Indian cricket, flailing about in search of a new young leader among generation next.
But he would be under no illusions that public memory is cruelly short and that the next 12 ODIs — seven against Australia followed by five against Pakistan — would be baptism by fire.
<b1>National selector from the East (Dhoni's zone), Ranjib Biswal, told HT that the selectors would be looking at Dhoni's captaincy in the 50-over format "carefully".
"He did a superb job, kept his cool in tense situations and everyone appreciated his captaincy. “Basically, what we believe is that the team-building process has begun," said Biswal.
But asked if this would be any indication ahead of the Test tours later this winter, he said, "That's a whole different ball game. It needs experience. Let's see how he does in the ODIs first, we're backing him fully."
Meanwhile, what of the five -- Virender Sehwag, Ajit Agarkar, Yusuf Pathan, Joginder Sharma and Rohit Sharma — who will sit out the first three ODIs at least, after making way for the experience of Tendulkar, Dravid, Ganguly, Zaheer and Ramesh Powar?
Rohit especially, showed outstanding temperament and Biswal agreed. "In different games, these boys will get their chances when senior players are rested," Biswal said. "We're building a pool. This is the start of a process." And, perhaps for India, an exciting glimpse into a hitherto hazy future.
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