INdian Cricket: The Heroes and the Villains

Cricket and perception go hand in hand.. But statistics tell the cold truth. For various reasons 2001 is a watershed year for Indian cricket. This is the year where Saurav Ganguly took over the reigns of captaincy of the Indian cricket team amidst absolute chaos and despair generated out of the match fixing scandal. He completely transformed this team from “”Strugglers”” to “Challengers””. Ganguly under his captaincy believed in “”aggression”” and “’Giving it back”” so much so that the fathers of sledging (Aussies) complained about Ganguly’s behaviour in that historic 2001 series…That for me the change in psyche and indicators of things to come..

I have tried to analyse various myths, perceptions and theories starting from that “”Series of Century”” by taking numbers from all the “winning”” matches till date. Also have taken 9 drawn matches in to consideration which were not only exciting draws but also changed the course of the series and history. India in this decade have won 37 test matches in total…The figures are in the attached box.

So here is my take…..

1. India started playing test cricket in the year 1932.In 68 years there after we managed to win 64 test matches. That means we won at an avg of less than one match per year. But from 2001-2009 we have won 37 matches. That means we won at an avg of 4 test matches per year. I believe Saurav Ganguly as Captain and Jhon Wright as Coach are the “”History Changers”” in the context of Indian cricket. Not to forget Jagmohan Dalmiya’s backing for Saurav.

2. Saurav Ganguly is singularly responsible for backing talents like Shewag, Laxman,Harbhajan,Zaheer,Yuvraj and Irfan Pathan when they started their careers and they went on become the core of the team in future.…Coincidentally it is around 2000-2001 where all these players made their debut.

3. India won 13 test matches from 2001 till the 2003 world cup .We defeated Australia in that historic series, Zimbabwe in their den, won a test match in WI after 25 years, won a test match in England after 18 years, during this period. This has been a fantastic period for Indian cricket where we finished “”Runners Up”” in the 2003 WC Final. Our good period continued till 2004 Pakistan series where we won a series for the first times. It happened before we drew the test series in Australia…
4. I was reading a sports magazine in 2004 where players like Sachin, Saurav, Laxman and Dravid (Whom the media called Fav Four) showering high praises about each other. I realised that India has graduated from individuals to Team players. And without doubt Saurav had a strong role to play in that entire transformation.
5. In the year 2004 the phenomenon started to change. Australia came to India to conquer the “Final Frontier” and Saurav’s leadership skills as well as his batting skills were in the decline. The youngsters had become somehow arrogant and the control of Jhon wright over the team was waning. Nagpur test stared everything. The curator prepared a green pitch and had heated argument with Saurav Ganguly. Saurav opted out of the test match there by eroding his credibility as a captain .India lost the test and the decline started. We also got a jolt in the Pakistan series which followed.
6. It was June 2005 and Greg Chappel was made the coach.Rahul took over as captain as Saurav was nursing injury. This stared the disintegration of the team.Greg was arrogant, ruthless and was a bad man manager.Rahul was too nice for Greg.This resulted in a situation where Captain was a Puppet and greg took all decisions.He instilled distrust and insecurity among players .He single-handedly was on a mission to destroy shewag,Harbhajan,Zaheer,Irfan and saurav. From 2005-2007 WC Indian team played some really bad cricket in tests (Although we won a number of ODI matches).This is the period Dhoni came in to the team and made a mark.
7. Indian Teams early exit in 2007 world cup stared a pandora’s box. Greg did all in his capacity to defame Indian cricket and its heroes. Finally it took a statement from Sachin tendulkar to end it all and Greg Resigned as Coach of the Indian Team.
8. With the elevation of Dhoni as captain the Golden period of Indian cricket have started.

What the Numbers Say

1. There is a perception that sachins performance towards wins in test matces are not up to the mark.Well the numbers tell a different story.His avg in the matches where India won is 62 and he has hit 10 centuries in these matches. Only Rahul Dravid can match him in this aspect.Please note that I have made an analysis of wins in this decade only.

2. Sachin and Rahul have a high 60 plus avg in winning matches which proves why these two are kept in high esteem by cricket experts and opposition teams,.
3. Shewags performance as an opener is outstanding and he averages 56 in winning matches…Infact its Shewag’s opening partnership with Gambhir which have given Indian team an aura of invincibility.
4. Laxman’s performance at No,6 is outstanding and his avg of 47 is no less than Sachin,Rahul and Shewag.
5. Ganguly’s performance in these matches can only be described as “decent”
6. So for me the FAV FOUR is Sachin, Rahul, Laxman and Shewag.
7. Gautam Gambhir is going to be an important player for us in years to come and his performance and stats proves that.
8. Some say Anil Kumble is the biggest match winner of Indian cricket. Well I
Don’t agree. He is an important player but Harbhajan is as good as him if not better.The stats prove that harbhajan and Anil have similar strike rates when it comes to winnng matches and in fact harbhajan have more wickets than Anil in these matches.
9. Zaheer Khans’ performance can only be described as “’Lion Hearted””
10. Finally this analysis is incomplete without a mention of Dhoni. Dhoni’s influence in shorter format of the game is unquestioned(he is in the No,1 poistion since 432 days and counting.Only Ponting stayed more days than him-512 days).Dhoni in his short test career have some important contribution in winning matches and I can safely predict that he ‘ll be an important cog in that winning machine in future.

Finally Guys I have put up a lot of effort in searching the stats match by match from 2001 which is a tedious job. I urge everybody to have a debate ,discussion on this.



Cricket and perception go hand in hand


  1. Angels and Belds
    Angels and Belds
    December 9, 2009 at 8:41 AM

    raj – good stuff da. will look at this in detail one of these days (maybe when i am in denial about 3 I being another blockbuster ;-))

  2. devesh
    December 9, 2009 at 10:04 AM

    Raj – brilliant and meticulous stuff.
    What you have forgot to add is the radical change in Dhoni’s flamboyant aggressive batting style in the last year or so. His style is now suited most to 50 overs ODI. He has not been performing in T-Twenty (which incidentally is the biggest feather in his cap!). Gauty has been the most consistent player in the last couple of years in every format of the game.
    Sachin – well the guy doesnt stop surprising ever. His 175 against the Aussies was one of those knocks where you felt equally happy and sad.
    Suresh Raina – Performed really well last year – and has done fairly well. But somehow consistency eludes him.
    Yuvraj – Consistency is the major issue. Biggest hitter in the world.
    Rohit Sharma – Has not been well nurutured. Really good talent and ideal guy to take the role of Rahul Dravid. Should be groomed for that.
    And I dont understand why can’t we produce one exress bowler! India can never be consistently best without someone like Brett Lee / Michelle Johnson / Mcgrath combo. I believe Ishant Sharma can be groomed for that.
    Ganguly – Was awesome when in form. But success got to his head. His comeback though was awesome. Those 2 years after his comeback he really played well, being the highest run getter in tests in 2008 i think. He also got loads of awards.

  3. Tango
    December 9, 2009 at 9:44 PM

    Correct Raj, I had said the same at SB yesterday. Dhoni did in Twenty20 WC and once again the same mistake.

    Could have been Raina, Yuvraj anyone but Dhoni.

  4. Tango
    December 9, 2009 at 9:58 PM

    I’m afraid what you are saying is true. Plus a lot of good players one being Uthappa are being ignored for no reason.

    Also, Dhoni has to come out of his stubborn mindset(like batting at 1 down in T20). It took him I don’t know how many matches to understand that Amit Mishra is a very predictable bowler and he made way for Ojha.

  5. Tango
    December 9, 2009 at 10:30 PM

    Murali Vijay is very impressive. I also remember his one off match performance against the mighty Aussies. I like the way he adapts to international cricket even though he is usually called at the 11th hour.

    Yeah Dhoni is no doubt back in form in both test and ODI but he should move down 4-5 in T20, so that he can finish or if too many wickets fall he can hold.

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