By Syed Khalid Mahmood
The Indians, under Mahendra Singh Dhoni, have proved themselves as the most potent side in every form of the game in world cricket. While they have struggled for consistency in the limited overs contest, hurting their rankings, they have been a cut above the rest as far as the longest version of the sport is concerned and they richly deserved to be the top ranked Test side.
India have finally achieved moved to the top by winning the third and final Test against Sri Lanka in Mumbai. It's a just reward for an outfit possessing the most powerful batting line-up backed by a lethal bowling attack, having variety and more importantly the class and character to absorb the pressures of Test cricket.
Dhoni's proactive captaincy has been instrumental in letting the Indians translate their supremacy into convincing victories. In the past they were good to the extent of dominating their rivals but somehow lacked the finishing touch to make it count.
This Indian side with Dhoni at the helm of the affairs has been showing greater mental toughness than ever before. Sourav Ganguly and John Wright, in the capacity of captain and coach respectively, had revived the Indian cricket with their positive approach that provided them the self-belief to come good against the heaviest of odds.
Ganguly and Wright were chiefly responsible for bringing about a welcome change in the attitude of the players and there was a marked improvement in India's performance particularly in overseas games.
The combination of Rahul Dravid and Greg Chappell promised a lot but the totally unexpected debacle in the Caribbean during the 2007 World Cup upset every plan of theirs and the change of guard left their mission unaccomplished.
Anil Kumble did a fine job as captain of the Test team while Dhoni's impressive captaincy in limited overs games brought them more glories than agonies.
It was a matter of time for Dhoni to take over in the Test arena and it was during the home series against Australia last season when he was appointed the leader for all forms of the game.
Dhoni's own batting performance has helped India considerably in improving their ratings in Test cricket. Coming behind six world class batters, he has proved himself an ideal number seven batsman in the mould of the great Australian wicketkeeper-batsman, Adam Gilchrist.
Dhoni obviously has to score quite a few more Test centuries to be bracketed with Gilchrist but the manner in which he has batted there's very little doubt in one's mind about his abilities.
India also owe their recent conquests to one man called Virender Sehwag. His blistering knocks have enabled his team to get a head start more and his longer stay at the crease has meant disaster for the opponents.
Sehwag had looked set to become the first batsman in Test history to score three triple hundreds but a rare half-hearted shot ended his magnificent innings in Mumbai when just a few runs away from the world record.
December 9, 2009