Victorious India roared in unison
MS Dhoni's men deserve full marks for their professional approach, performance, supreme confidence and camaraderie during the New Zealand tour.
<p>Notwithstanding the debate over the delayed declaration which deprived India of a convincing 2-0 series win against New Zealand, Mahendra Singh Dhoni's men deserve full marks for their professional approach, performance, supreme confidence and camaraderie during the tour.</p> <p>The Indians have not just set a benchmark in terms of securing India their first series triumph against New Zealand in the antipodes in 41 years, they have raised the bar in almost every aspect of the game, especially the mind-game in which they were fragile and vulnerable not long ago.</p> <p>The message they have sent out to the cricket rivals is loud and clear. They are ready to take on anybody, anywhere, in any condition and on any pitch. <em>(Pic: AP)</em></p> <p> </p>
<p>Except in one session during in the second Test at Napier when they were forced to follow-on, India's batting - driven by the enormously talented Gautam Gambhir (445 runs; Average: 89), Sachin Tendulkar (344; 68.8), Rahul Dravid (314; 62.8), VVS Laxman (295; 59) and Dhoni (155; 51.66) was on a roll right through the three-match series.</p> <p>In the team's context, it didn't matter that Virender Sehwag (140; 28) and Yuvraj Singh (125; 31.25) chose to cast their wickets away. </p> <p>Gambhir carved back-to-back Test hundreds (137 at the McLean Park and 167 at Basin Reserve) taking his aggregate to a phenomenal 1556 runs over the last eight months.</p> <p>The diminutive but pugnacious left-hander, who was rightly adjudged Man of the Series, gives the assurance that he could hold the Indian batting together when the illustrious triumvirate of Tendulkar, Dravid, who set a world record (184) for the most number of catches by a fielder during the series, and Laxman wish to call it day. <em>(Pic: AP)</em></p>
<p>Their bowling, despite the lack of a penetrative third seamer, was competitive, though Ishant Sharma failed to live up to his billing. Had the 20-year-old paceman supported the lion-hearted Zaheer Khan (13 wickets, including a five-wicket haul), India could have probably won the series 2-0.</p> <p>Though having recovered well from the shoulder injury he sustained in the ODIs series, Ishant failed to put the ball in the right areas, as the Kiwis would constantly lament over the bowlers' failure to produce wickets.</p> <p>Though Dhoni reposed faith in Munaf Patel, it would be in interest of Indian cricket that the selectors find someone who can sustain the pressure exerted by Zaheer Khan and Ishant. Bowling steady to keep the batsmen quiet seems alright, but producing penetrative, wicket-taking spells is what India require if they are sustain the momentum they have gained since beating Australia 2-0 at home. <em>(Pic: AP)</em></p>
<p>Harbhajan Singh came away as India's leading wicket-taker with 16 scalps, including a six for 63 in the first Test at Hamilton which India won by 10 wickets. He also contributed handsomely with the bat, scoring a punishing and innings-reviving 60 in the drawn third Test.</p> <p>Fielding was the only aspect in which India was not up to the mark, though the Kiwis weren't far behind too. They would definitely need to up their standards if they hope to replace Australia at the top of the ICC Test rankings. <em>(Pic: AP)</em></p>
<p>Though critics may suggest that a successful team is what makes a captain, Dhoni has certainly made a difference in Indian cricket.</p> <p>That the 27-year-old Dhoni has won five Tests in the seven that he has led India in reflects his leadership skills, highlighted by his ability to keep a cool head and work around exigencies, sometimes with unconventional tactics.</p> <p>That he has been to keep the brood together and extract the best out of them is remarkable.</p> <p>Whatever the individual contributions be, it would only be fair to attribute this historical series victory to team work, something which the Kiwis couldn't conjure. <em>(Pic: AP)</em></p>