It must have hurt; the humiliation in the Twenty-20 match at Melbourne; the escape at Brisbane. It has not been very encouraging as the stalwarts have departed from the scene and we have a new-look India team taking on the mighty Australians and the wily Sri Lankans. For some time it will be tough no doubt. But there is promise of a bright future in this young team.
The expectations are too high. And that is one reason why every defeat hurts and evokes extreme reactions from the cricket fans. Please remember that these boys are trying to make a mark, trying to emerge from the shadows of some of their great colleagues who do not now figure in the one-day scheme of things.
In the absence of Rahul Dravid, Sourav Ganguly, VVS Laxman and Anil Kumble, this combination looks very different, very young, but very, very ambitious; it is also very determined to make a strong statement on behalf of Indian cricket. Only Sachin Tendulkar remains from the old block but then he is one of his kind, someone who can carry himself on the basis of his awesome contribution to the team. His mere presence on the field is great motivation for all those wanting to enjoy a long career.
My feelings at this new India team are mixed. To begin with, I will not expect them to conquer the world. If they do, I will be very happy. If they don't, I will not savage them, for I know at some point in the future they will be a tremendous force to reckon with. This team has the potential and we must back the boys. Result will show but we need to be patient.
I am happy to see Rohit Sharma and Manoj Tiwary assuming responsibility as India's torch-bearers in batting. Too early to judge them I now but then it is also too early to slam them because of failures. At least they have the potential and their talent is visible. The ease with which Rohit handled the Australian attack was exemplary and he is one batsman who promises to serve Indian cricket long.
I am also happy with the faith Mahendra Singh Dhoni showed in Tiwary. Jet-lag was set aside as Tiwary got down to business. He got a great ball from Brett Lee, who was fantastic. But I am optimistic that Rohit and Tiwary will assume charge and come up with some decent performances. They have one month to prove their mettle because merit was the sole criteria in propelling them to the international arena.
The most stunning impact was made by Ishant Sharma. Here is a youngster who brings the much-needed fire and aggression to the attack. My only worry is he should not go the Munaf Patel and Irfan Pathan way. Munaf and Pathan slowed down before being saddled with injuries. But Ishant has everything that a fast bowler should possess. He has promise and he has the talent.
The Australians have finally been shut up for their so-called aggression. The judgement by Justice Hansen should curb the bad behaviour of the Australians. There is little doubt that the Australians have thrown the spirit of the game to the winds. They deserved what they got from the Justice and I hope they would now learn to play cricket in the spirit that it is known for.
I appeal to all cricket fans of Indian cricket to give time to the youngsters, allow them opportunities to settle down. Give them the chance to adapt.
Finally, hats off to two great players who bowed out with dignity â€” Adam Gilchrist and Shaun Pollock. Both have been great role models, both remained down to earth and never stirred any controversy during their illustrious careers. True gentlemen, Pollock and Gilchrist will remain some of the finest ambassadors of the game â€” shining examples for the current generation of cricketers.
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