It is time that we start accepting and believing in the fact that India is not only one of the best teams in the world, but also a strong contender for the Number one spot. It has an aura about it which only those teams radiate who want to express their invincibility on the field.
MS Dhoni combines in him a calm aggression and a ruthless streak which cares little about negative reactions of the media. In his deep desire to win, he does not hide the fear of losing, as was reflected in his ensuring a draw first in the final Test in Wellington before deciding to go for the kill. And, whatever you and I may say, he is not apologetic about it. It is a quality seen in those who believe in what they are doing and are willing to take responsibility for their actions.
He also commands a team whose batting strengths would intimidate any bowling side. It has an opening pair, not only the best in the world, but also in its cricketing history. The middle-order may be ageing but its run-making ability is still intact and it can be safely said now that Tendulkar is the most complete batsman the world may have ever seen.
With Zaheer Khan having transformed himself into the most cunning medium pacer of our times, India has a bowling attack which can make light of any unfavourable conditions.
In short, India has the best-balanced team ever in their cricketing history. The results show that and so does the team's attitude. But to be right there at the top where the gap between the first ranked and those who follow is huge, is still to be tested.
New Zealand was a frontier which we had conquered only once before, not just because of cricketing reasons alone. It had a lot to do with weather conditions as well as the fact that we have played very little cricket there. They have rarely been a formidable team and when in 1967 we beat them, we were among the worst touring sides in the world. That is why India's first series win abroad was and will always remain special and historic.
Today, this Indian team was expected to win, that too against a side which is the worst in the world, that is if you believe in the ICC rankings. That India, ranked Number 3 in the world, beat the number 8th ranked team (only Bangladesh and Zimbabwe are behind New Zealand) should not come as a surprise and we need not go overboard in our reaction to this win.
Only those who are insecure seek reassurances and certificates of greatness all the time. This Indian team has gone beyond that and should now be looking forward to winning a series in South Africa and Australia. Unless they do so, the real jewels will be missing in the crown India is so eagerly seeking.