India won the Emerging Players cricket tournament in Australia.
New Delhi: What if Team India has lost in England? What if the seniors lost their No. 1 rank? The young guns have fired in all cylinders Down Under, winning both the three-day and Twenty20 leg of the four-nation Emerging Players Tournament that concluded in Queensland on Saturday.
If the Englishmen went berserk in their homeland, it was India's Tendulkars, Laxmans and Dravids of tomorrow who thumped their chests in the tournament in Australia - giving their idols a reason to smile on India's 64th Independence Day.
The gloom surrounding the England loss has surely been lifted, the chins have started turning up, because there is hope on the morrow - hope that all is not lost.
In the four-team tournament, the India juniors finished the leg of three-day matches with six points from three encounters with a victory and two draws, followed by Australian Institute of Sports (AIS) on -1 and New Zealand and South Africa on -5 each.
But more than the arithmetic, it was the courage with which they performed under Australian conditions, which have been regarded the most testing by the game's greats.
Bengal's Manoj Tiwary and Mumbai's Ajinkya Rahane starred with the bat, scoring 306 and 274 runs respectively - while skipper Shikhar Dhawan was third on the list with 205 runs. Most of the other Indian batsmen too came back with at least a half century to their name.
In terms of milestones, Rahane was the most successful with two centuries. Manoj hit a century and a half century, while Dhawan, Saurabh Tiwary and Ashok Menaria scored a century. Young Manish Pandey was not to be left behind, as he too impressed with two half centuries. Also, promising Baroda batsman Ambati Rayudu scored a half century.
In the Twenty20 leg, Saurabh scored 103 runs with a strike-rate 151.47. Manoj, though scored only 88 runs, had a better strike rate of 154.38 than Saurabh.
In the bowling department, speedster Varun Aaron - who is knocking on the senior team's door now - made headlines with 10 wickets in the three-day matches while left-arm spinner Iqbal Abdullah and fast bowler R Vinay Kumar took 9 wickets each. Abdullah, however, was the highest wicket-taker in Twenty20 leg of the tournament with six wickets to his credit.
These figures no doubt paint a picture of promise for Team India, who maybe in a couple of years' time would want these youngsters to fill the shoes of Sachin Tendulkar, Rahul Dravid, VVS Laxman, Zaheer Khan and the like.
It maybe a high ask but seeing how these young guns wear their heart on their sleeve, it's not beyond them to answer England back when their turn comes. At least that's what we pray for this Independence Day.