A few months ago, I thought that Michael Hussey was the next edition of The Great One and Dhoni was another Brearley (except for the fact that, in addition to captaincy, he could also bat, keep wickets … and this I learned recently, take wickets!). Unfortunately, those hopes have now been officially dashed. Hussey has reverted back to normalcy and it appears that though Dhoni can still bat, keep wickets (and maybe take wickets too, if he gives himself a chance), he cannot captain or motivate the team. Sample this …
Before the latest match or two, Ponting had cried himself hoarse about the depleted resources at his disposal. [Sidenote: It is a testament to India’s progress in The Civilized World that Delhi Belly, which used to be The Reason of Choice, was the only one among all tried-and-tested ones, that was not mentioned in reference to the players missing in action.] So, naturally, guess what our desi players do? Take away Ponting’s excuses.
While Australia’s best players were only physically missing from action, India’s “best” showed up but decided not to play. Sample these scores at the top of the order: Sehwag 6; Tendulkar 10; Gambhir 0; Yuvraj 6; Raina 0. Also, to fight fire with fire, we picked equally unknown batsmen to deliver the goods: Ravindra Jadeja 57 and Praveen Kumar 54 not out. Conspicuously absent among the run-scorers: Harbhajan 5-2 Singh 0! Oh, maybe Bhajji meant the full-strength Aussie team, not this rag-tag and bobtail outfit.
As if granting the Aussies a batting handicap was not enough, Dhoni also made sure that we were generous in the bowling department as well (though the low target might be claimed as the excuse): other than Gambhir and Dhoni, everyone else got a chance to twirl his arm over.
Conclusion: Australia might have beaten India, but it was only because they – Australia, not India, which even dropped folks who are too old such as Dravid (Tendulkar? Oh, he is all set to play in the 2011 World Cup. Can anyone say otherwise after that gem of a 175?) – did not have a full-strength team.