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India must focus on crucial games

Last night I went to a party, and as expected, the major topic was cricket and the ongoing series. I must say that I have grown accustomed to hearing and talking only cricket, writes Arun Lal.

india Updated: Jan 27, 2004 12:08 IST
Arun Lal
Arun Lal

Last night I went to a party, and as expected, the major topic was cricket and the ongoing series. I must say that I have grown accustomed to hearing and talking only cricket.

This time of course, everyone is amazed at the team's performance but despite that, one still comes across some cynical comments. Why do Indian batsmen slow down when they are close to their hundreds?

Even Laxman is not spared. Sachin rarely wins you a match. Ganguly can't play fast short-pitched balls and should bat at No. 6. The Indian team lacks tactics and planning and the game is allowed to drift.

The team lacks temperament and loses easy games when the crunch time is on. The only true batsmen are Laxman and Dravid. The Australians will thrash us in the finals.

The Indian team seems to have come of age but not the Indian supporter. While there is some substance to a few of the observations, it is evident that the supporter is hard to please and expects the team to win every game they play convincingly.

The Indian team has matured and has a new status in their own minds. It is evident not just from their success but by the way they have performed. For the first time the team itself, has a momentum and is not reliant on individuals.

So much so, that with more then half their main strength either injured or rested, they can still score 300 consistently and win matches. The young brigade has new-found energy and confidence, which is evident from their eagerness to play their hearts out in the middle.

Laxman has been a revelation once again. The talent and grace was always there and on current form, is probably the most watchable batsman in the world today. Dravid, by his own admission, is playing the best cricket of his career.

Tendulkar has shrugged off bad form and is back at his consistent best. Ganguly is the only one currently struggling for form. With all the batting except for Ganguly in crackling form, it would be interesting to see the batting order once all of them are fit.

The biggest plus in this side however, is the form and attitude of the youngsters - Yuvraj, Agarkar, Pathan, Balaji and Gavaskar. Typified by the last over bowled by Bangar. Here was a man struggling for form, short on confidence and was asked to defend just seven runs.

The fact that he succeeded speaks volumes not only about his temperament but the momentum that the team has acquired.

Almost everything seems to be happening for the Indians, the ball it seems is also running for them. This has not all happened by chance. A lot of hard work, planning and fearless leadership has helped this team achieve a potential that most believed was lying dormant.

The Indians have had a great tour so far but now is the time to really focus on our strengths, keep the concentration going for this is the most important time of the entire tour.

The series so far has been a bit of a roller coaster ride. The team has played exceedingly well and from all counts, has the Australians worried. They are under pressure and for the first time in many years are not quite so sure of themselves.

It's imperative that they stay loose and carry on playing their natural game. It's now time to rewrite the world cricket rankings, especially in the minds and hearts of the Indian supporter.

First Published: Jan 27, 2004 12:08 IST