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Divided & in danger of being booted out

Off-the-field spat needs to take a backseat and focus should only be on winning. Amol Karhadkar reports. Chances of making it

india Updated: Feb 23, 2012 01:18 IST

Hours before boarding a flight to Australia on December 12, India skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni was asked at his pre-departure media conference: "When will India dominate the cricket world?"

Dhoni had said: "It is not about dominating the cricket world. It is all about achieving something as a team. That is what we did during the World Cup. It is a constant process throughout the career of an individual."

As India find themselves in danger of ending their tour a week earlier - if they are ousted from the CB Series at the end of the league stage - the Indian contingent must wondered on their 70-minute flight from Brisbane to Sydney what they had "achieved" on the tour Down Under.

Restoring pride

After a disastrous tour of England, where they not only lost their No. 1 ranking in Tests but failed to win a single game over 66 days, the players and their ardent fans alike were looking forward to the Australia tour as a redemption mission.http://www.hindustantimes.com/Images/HTEditImages/Images/23feb_pg19a.jpg

The first half of the tour appeared to be a sequel of the meek surrender in England. There was nothing to take home for any of the squad members, except for Virat Kohli, who established himself as a Test cricketer; and Zaheer Khan, who fulfilled his objective of lasting a full series in Australia.

In the wake of all this, when India started the title defence in the tri-series on February 5, optimistic Indian fans had hoped the next five weeks would mark the revival of the Indian team's fortunes.

Needless divisions
Despite the cold war in the dressing room that was fast turning into a public spat, all was going well at the halfway stage, with India leading the points table.

It all changed from Friday to Sunday as defeats against Australia and Sri Lanka at The Gabba pushed India to the bottom of the points chart.

If the Test series saw the bigwigs of Indian batting fail miserably and the team management's inexplicable reluctance to begin the transition process by blooding youngsters, the five matches of the tri-series have displayed how far the youngsters have to go if they are to displace the seniors.

After the defeat against Australia on Friday, Dhoni admitted that the tri-series was as much about taking back home something after a humiliating Test series as it was about preparing for the 2015 World Cup, to be jointly hosted by Australia and New Zealand.

Both these objectives are in danger of not being fulfilled. India are far from being

ousted. But if they lose their penultimate league game against Australia here on Sunday, the players as well as the selectors and administrators will have to seriously contemplate what the team achieved on this long tour.