Saturday, September 12, 2009

September 12, 2009

Off the daily work grind for a while; not sure how long the peace will last and I'll have to get back to earning a bit of money...but thought I'd make use of the lull in the interim to 'restart' my blog, make it a more sports-heavy kind of set-up, be more regular with updates. Write the sort of stuff no one will let me to write for them; stuff that probably doesn't matter. Nevertheless...

India No 1
It's interesting that after launching a full-fledged Rooting For India campaign while at Headlines Today, the team becomes number one in the world at the end of the first match they play after I quit. Mission World Domination, we called it, as the Indians did almost everything right in the one-day format through the lead-up to the big breakthrough.
It's not going to be forever, but I think it's a great big deal. And it's the big story in a situation which is quite similar to what was happening around 2007. Indians doing well in various international sporting events - from the point of view of cricket, the T20 World Cup was won and some good Test wins were happening.
Right now, there's the Paes-Bhupathi face-off in the US Open men's doubles final. Between them, they have 21 Grand Slam titles - this will be the 22nd, one way or the other. Vijender Singh did extremely well at the World Championships, though some of the other boxers who could have done well fell by the wayside. Force India is doing well, finally, even though the team has (a) very little to do with India and (b) very little to do with sport (but that's another topic). Saina Nehwal is up and about and almost there... And MC Marykom is hard at work trying to make sure she remains the number one come the next Olympic Games (pity Beijing 2008 didn't include women's boxing, it should have been there).
But coming back to the Indian team, there's a little niggling thing that continues to bug me, even though we are officially the best team in the world in ODIs and should win the Lanka tri-series. And that's because we have played little or no cricket against South Africa or Australia recently. Nor against England in England. Ever since the team got on their winning run, we have been in the subcontinent, away at a very under-par New Zealand team, etc. And that worries me. It tells me that there's a very good chance our high won't last. Of course, who's to say we wouldn't have beaten South Africa - we could have. But the odds are iffy.
There are serious problems with our batting order - Sehwag is iffy, Gambhir has been iffy recently and is now injured, Raina is too inconsistent, Dravid may or may not be a long-term solution, Dhoni is not the big-hitter he was, Yusuf is not good enough beyond a five-over spell. Tendulkar - yes. Yuvraj - yes. But is that good enough? Ditto with the bowling. Zaheer, Nehra, Ishant and Harbhajan at their best is a potent combo; but they are not at their best most often.
And that tells me that the bubble might burst sooner than we think it will. As early as in the Champions Trophy later this month...