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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 â€œâ€Strugglersâ€â€ to â€œChallengersâ€â€. Ganguly under his captaincy believed in â€œâ€aggressionâ€â€ and â€œâ€™Giving it backâ€â€ so much so that the fathers of sledging (Aussies) complained about Gangulyâ€™s behaviour in that historic 2001 seriesâ€¦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 â€œâ€Series of Centuryâ€â€ by taking numbers from all the â€œwinningâ€â€ 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 totalâ€¦The figures are in the attached box.
So here is my takeâ€¦..
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 â€œâ€History Changersâ€â€ in the context of Indian cricket. Not to forget Jagmohan Dalmiyaâ€™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.â€¦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 â€œâ€Runners Upâ€â€ 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 Australiaâ€¦
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 â€œFinal Frontierâ€ and Sauravâ€™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 pandoraâ€™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 matchesâ€¦Infact its Shewagâ€™s opening partnership with Gambhir which have given Indian team an aura of invincibility.
4. Laxmanâ€™s performance at No,6 is outstanding and his avg of 47 is no less than Sachin,Rahul and Shewag.
5. Gangulyâ€™s performance in these matches can only be described as â€œdecentâ€
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
Donâ€™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 Khansâ€™ performance can only be described as â€œâ€™Lion Heartedâ€â€
10. Finally this analysis is incomplete without a mention of Dhoni. Dhoniâ€™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 â€˜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.