Extreme euphoria can be a manifestation of an inferiority complex. Now that we have won a Test series in England, and celebrated enough, it is time to look ahead and not just gloat over an achievement whose true significance only the future can tell.
We have some really tough Test series ahead, the one against Pakistan at home and then Australia in Australia. Both, especially the one in Australia, will test us to the extreme. If we withstand the onslaught of pressure and match a team which combines outstanding skill and the confidence of losing rarely, then we can say this Indian team is a world-beating side.
The manner in which India played the last two Tests, does suggest that the severe loss of confidence and faith in their own ability that Greg Chappell’s methods had installed in the players is a story of the past now. The smile that Chappell had managed to wipe off Indian faces is back and the so-called “divisive” seniors have not only played a major role in this win but also seem to be gelling well with the juniors.
After having watched India’s World Cup campaign, where the players were so insecure that even an innocent glance could be interpreted as a sinister plot being hatched to overthrow the captain-coach combine, England has come as a breath of fresh air. No wonder then that most of the players feel free “to be” without the fear of being accused of being disruptive.
Dravid can now afford to relax and not worry about “threats” to his captaincy. The “enemies” are now “friends” and it is to be hoped that it remains so for some time to come.
What, though, should now be of some concern to Dravid is his batting form. The perfectionist that he is, Dravid must be almost embarrassed by the batting display he put up in the final innings of the Oval Test. The master of technique, and the team man to the core, was struggling to put bat to the ball, at a time when India required quick runs to justify his decision not to enforce a follow-on.
The follow-on debate will go on and on, but after having decided to bat again, India needed to score quick runs so that instead of the 110 overs they gave themselves in which to bowl out England, they could have done with atleast 15 to 20 more.
No doubt, the 11 for 3 scoreline did hamper them to go after the bowling but once Sourav Ganguly had through his aggression managed to calm Indian nerves, Dravid should have stepped on the pedal. It is here the Indian captain will realise that it is not always easy to be both -- captain as well as a batsman. The pressure gets to the best and hopefully, one big score soon will help Dravid to deal with these twin responsibilities with greater ease.
In that crucial partnership, when Ganguly was threading the ball through the off side cordon with masterly ease, the thought that “thank god, I am not the captain of the team anymore” must have crossed him mind.
As we move ahead and face the twin challenges from Pakistan and Australia, it would be better for all of us to accept the fact that Sachin Tendulkar is no more the destructive batsman that he was once. He is, as Ian Chappell put it, “a functional Test batsman” and as long as he remains that, we should let him be. The over the top screaming when he scores and even when he fails does no good to him and more importantly to the team.
Let us for the time being savour the talent of men like Wasim Jaffer, Dinesh Karthik, MS Dhoni, Zaheer Khan and RP Singh. Let us not forget that we have someone of the ability of Yuvraj Singh sitting in the dressing room and let us raise a toast to the Fab Four, not to forget Anil Kumble. Mercifully the future did not turn out to be as bleak as it appeared on that muggy March in Trinidad when India were knocked out of the World Cup.