Wanted: Aussie team, dead or alive
After trouncing their rivals in the T20 WC, the Indians will meet the Aussies in Bangalore today, reports Akshay Sawai.cricket Updated: Sep 29, 2007 14:03 IST
You want to soak in it, kid? Become an olive and jump into a martini. This is the Indian cricket team. You play one series, catch your breath, play another. You won't get time to – sad but true — pause, kick back, reflect. You can do that when you are old and have a farmhouse in Kasauli and a dog by your feet.
Less than five days after winning the World Twenty20, India are back on the field. The name of their latest assignment may be Future Cup but the time is now. On Saturday, they play Australia in the first of a seven-match series here at the Chinnaswamy stadium. It will be a sun-moon match.
It's not only the start of a series but also of a long, important season. After Australia, they play five ODIs against Pakistan. Then follow Tests at home against Pakistan and away against Australia. After that is a tri-series Down Under, with Sri Lanka being the third team.
Three angles make this season interesting. One, India need to carry their T20 form into the 50-over format. Two, there is a chance that Sachin Tendulkar, and some other seniors, may quit the one-day stage or the selectors may opt for a proper rotation policy. Three, this might lead to regular places for some of the young players who won hearts in the World Twenty20.
Let's start with the first. India haven't been at their best in the 50-over game. We know what they did last summer — lost 4-1 in the Windies. They suffered a worse battering in SA. The World Cup was a mess. They won the brief series in Ireland against the Proteas and did better in the NatWest against England but lost the decider. The ODIs coming up will therefore be vital to prove they have what it takes.
Then, there has been speculation that Tendulkar will bid adieu to ODIs post Pakistan. He said in an interview that it was getting harder to recover from the wear and tear of ODIs. The other seniors, Rahul Dravid and Sourav Ganguly, are getting on in years too and India have to prepare for the future.
Lastly, connected to a possible exit of the trio in ODIs (at some stage in the conceivable future) is the more frequent presence of younger players. How they will be accommodated makes this season particularly fascinating.