Praveen Kumar, Piyush Chawla, Ishant Sharma, Rohit Sharma.
Names I had not even heard of before this Aussie summer. But names that should come up frequently if this recently concluded series is any indication.
And if people had told me back in January that this combination was going to win India its first ODI tournament in Australia in a gazillion years of trying, I’d have asked for a puff on the obnoxious weed they were smoking.
But it was the youthful energy of these guys along with the likes of Gambhir, Uthappa, Sreesanth, Dhoni etc., and the prescence of just one ‘senior’, the evergreen Sachin Tendulkar that lifted the CB Series trophy at the Gabba last Tuesday. And in the process they have also made me (and a few other bloggers) eat a humble piece of my own words.
But I hardly care, I will write down those words and eat the paper too; after a long, tumultuous summer, we gave it to the mighty Aussie – winning on the field and delivering a bitter taste of their own medicine off it. And that just warms the cockles of my heart.
Back in late January however, it had begun real badly – a total rout in the 20/20 at MCG. But then, slight flashes of brilliance in bowling and batting at the rain-soaked GABBA encounters, followed by a good win at the MCG, and then losses to Australia in games that could have been won, a trundling win against Sri Lanka, followed by an emphatic one. Still, it seemed we were consistently doing what we do best: being inconsistent.
And then something happened: Mathew Hayden, FSM’s gift to the foot-in-the-mouthers, came on a Brisbane radio show and graciously expressed his opinions on gardening, demonstrated his acute grasp of the Indian accent, and shared his pugilistic fantasies of beating up young kids. In the same breath, he also mentioned something like ‘Indians are always losing…..’.
The rest, as they say is history. After that interview, Australia promptly lost three in a row. Over the two finals, Harbhajan Singh, the bete noire of the Australian cricket team, public and particularly the media, took the wickets of Symonds twice, Hayden once and had a hand in the run-out in another.
Irony, divine justice, karma, call it what you will. And to top it all, Sachin Tendulkar, long castigated for never winning it for India ‘when it mattered’, joined the party and played two highly innovative innings.
All followed by wonderful celebrations; and especially, as I mentioned before, the wide eyed innocence of the small-town boy, Praveen Kumar, while accepting the MoM award. (the other great moment was in the first final at Sydney, where Yuvraj and Harbhajan started a bout of mock boxing after Hayden’s dismissal).
A special salute to Captain ‘Uber-Cool’ Dhoni.In situations where Dravid would have frowned deeply, Ganguly thrown fits, Dhoni calmly – with nary an expression on his face – handed the crucial last over to Pathan. It was a strange decision given Pathan was certainly the worst bowler on display through the day, but he repaid the confidence. Since being appointed 20/20 and ODI captain, it has been a good season for Dhoni. Most of his decisions regarding player selections, backing of youngsters (a point he did not forget to make during the presentation speech) paid off handsomely – they may not in future – but his unflappability under pressure has me impressed .
So once again, here is to the young lads in blue ! Cheers !
: As if I required more reasons to like Dhoni, read about his departing words to the Aus media. Very cheeky 🙂
“There was a time when it seemed like he was like Michael Jackson, the way the media were following him,” Dhoni said before flying out of Australia with the Indian team.
“I think it would have been better if they (Australian media) stuck to cricket.