MS Dhoni and Co. (or was it Michael Clarke?) did not allow much of a choice but India's humiliation Down Under was not an ideal beginning to the country's first World Cup-winning captain's 54th birthday.
Even then, Kapil Dev was all praise for the Aussie skipper, more for his “commitment” to the team than the match-winning knock.
"Rahul Dravid had once declared when Sachin Tendulkar was batting on 194, for which he has been criticised ever since. And here, Clarke was dictating terms on the third day and a 400 against his name looked very likely.
"To declare at such a juncture only shows how committed you are to the cause of your team," Dev added, saying that it’s "this kind of commitment that we (India) need. At the end of the day, records are sweet only if you are on the winning side."
Before the Boxing Day Test got underway, this Indian squad was billed as possibly the best ever to land on Australian shores. Quite a few Australian legends, along with Dhoni, had thought that this was India’s best chance ever.
But that was when Umesh Yadav was giving the pace battery a new lease of life on the first day of the Melbourne Test. After that though, the script has only been written by Aussie hands.
So how does the ‘best team’look now? “I personally don't understand the concept of ‘the best team’ ever,” said Dev.
“A line-up may look brilliant on paper, but whether it's the best or not depends how it fares on the given day.”
When to retire
While India’s second highest Test wicket-taker thinks that everyone except Tendulkar is more bogged down by the thought of the 100th century, he nonetheless felt the big three of Indian cricket — Tendulkar, Rahul Dravid and VVS Laxman — have not performed up to expectations.
“Retirement is something a player should understand. But if you are not performing and the team isn't winning, your past laurels shouldn't help you retain a berth,” said Dev, who's “happy to be teeing off at 54”.
“I'm sure selectors will sit down if this series ends in a debacle and some big names may just be up for discussion.”