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Don?t lose perspective

Apart from statistics, India?s win in the Windies is not a happy reflection, writes Pradeep Magazine.

india Updated: Jul 05, 2006 02:15 IST

While it can be nobody's case that India's series win against the West Indies is not a historic, momentous and memorable one, let us also pause, reflect and not get too carried away. Celebrations without a proper perspective hide the true nature of a team's strengths and in the long run, can be injurious to its health.

Yes, a 35-year old jinx has been broken and it does a lot of good to the morale of a team and a nation to find themselves not as "bad" as this West Indies team is supposed to be at the moment (in Tests). But unfortunately in the one-dayers, we came off second best, not the best build-up towards the World Cup.

Just glance at the last two years' statistics and you would realise that the only time West Indies have won a Test was against Pakistan. Out of the 22 it has played during that period it has lost 15, drawn 6 and won only 1. No wonder it is ranked as low as eight in the ICC rankings, just above Zimbabwe and Bangladesh.

Compare this with the Indians, who may not exactly have been a great Test side but they have a record, especially at home, that is the envy of all cricketing nations. Out of the last 22 Tests India have played, they have won 10, drawn 9 and lost only three. The West Indian ranking is so low that despite India's 1-0 win, the latest  ICC rankings  have them dropping from third to fourth place.

In 1971, India embarked on their tour of the West Indies, they had nothing to show to the world in terms of achievements.

They had won just three Test matches abroad (against New Zealand) and were the favourite whipping boys of world cricket. Despite the West Indies being nowhere near their best and nothing like what they became in the late Seventies, India's series win was truly historic as it gave a fledgling cricket nation a new pride and respect in international cricket.

The 1971 series wins, first in the West Indies and then in England, gave Indian cricket the self-esteem and confidence that was missing till then.

Now compare those wins with the present. Only last year, India were the number 2 team in the world and the only team to have challenged the invincible Australians on their home turf.

They might not have won a Test series in Australia or even in England, but they did enough to fight on equal terms and earn the respect of their adversaries, even raise hopes of their becoming the powerhouse of world cricket (and not just financially). 

This tour to the West Indies was supposed to be a terrific advertisement for the rapid advances Indian cricket had made of late, especially in the one-day variety. And, given the nature of the opposition, many were even expecting a whitewash.

Alas, that did not happen. The West Indies exposed India's weaknesses in the one-dayers and hung on till the last to almost deny them even a Test win.

Had Rahul Dravid not played like a man possessed and not showcased all his great batting skills and phenomenal powers of focus and concentration that would do a yogi proud, India might have returned home in embarrassment, even shame.

This is the time to introspect, wonder what went wrong on the tour and why we did not win the one-day and the Test series convincingly. 

I am not saying don't celebrate this Indian victory, but at the same time, please don't go overboard. 2006 is not 1971 and if we still believe it is, there must be something seriously wrong with our psyche.