After all the criticism and ridicule the Indian team endured for losing three Tests in little over a fortnight to miss out on holding the Pataudi Trophy after leading the series in England, no praise can be too high for MS Dhoni’s outfit which won the ODI series at Birmingham on Tuesday.
Doubtless, the change in format helped on this otherwise forgettable tour, but to pick oneself up and march on to victory is no easy task.
It would be premature to say that this team looks completely transformed after the 1-3 loss in the Test series which was followed by the removal of a couple of support staff members. But this is a turnaround for sure. The batsmen have done a commendable job especially openers Shikhar Dhawan and Ajinkya Rahane, who have been skilful and ruthless against the English bowlers.
Dhoni’s bowling unit is not perfect but the spinners have made the attack look stronger and sharper. Above all, and critically, the fielding and catching has been exemplary. Suresh Raina in particular has been brilliant in the field and his hundred in Cardiff, where India won by 133 runs, was a knock both India and England will find hard to forget.
Although the support staff do not score runs, pick wickets and pluck catches, some credit should be apportioned to them for their guidance.
Ravi Shastri as Team Director, as expected, had a good influence on the team. Going into Friday’s last game of the series at Leeds, Shastri will, more than anything, emphasise the need to finish the ODI series with a win before the solitary Twenty20 game at Birmingham on Sunday.
This newspaper remembers then Mumbai captain Shastri’s words of wisdom as he planned to inflict more pain on an already down opponent in his last season of Ranji Trophy in 1993-94: “When you have them under your feet, you don’t leave them there, you crush them.”
That credo will still hold true. And let it be stressed that Alastair Cook’s England team appears to be one of the poorest in the history of ODI cricket.