In your Face, Mate!

The Indian cricket juggernaut rolls on, clocking impressive wins on the way.

Now it is the turn of the Australians when they take on India in Pune on Thursday.

They Aussies are here with only one intention – win and win anyhow. Even if it means chatting up or chin music.

Records reveal that India’s captain Virat Kohli has now gone 19 consecutive Tests without losing. Six series have been won in a row, bettering the previous record of five by Mahendra Singh Dhoni.

The bowlers, batsmen and practically everybody has made an entry into the record books of late, with the captain leading the way.

So is this the Golden Era of Indian cricket? The records point towards it as does the performances.

That established, there are many reasons why Indian cricket has taken the upward trend.

Cricket, like all sport, is also a mind game. The modern day Indian player is confident, aggressive, intelligent and always “in-your-face”.

Winning is the kind of high which works magic on a player’s psyche. The Indians have learnt to win, even under dire circumstances.

The pitch authorities must also be praised for preparing wickets that spin and bite. For too long, wickets in India were always friendly in nature and boring draws were the order of the day.

This stemmed from a lack of confidence.  With spinning tracks the new mantra, India’s winning graph is soaring higher.

And why shouldn’t India prepare wickets that suit them? The English always prepare seaming tracks, the Australians and South Africans bouncy ones.

So these countries should stop squealing and learn to address this weakness. For too long, many teams have suffered humiliation in those countries.

It did take India a bit of time to reach this zenith in their cricketing history. Again, it was more a question of attitude than ability.

The problem lies in the fact that Indians are too nice to others. “Well played sirs” were the order of the day in the old days.  Any form of aggression from the opposition was met with politeness or no reaction at all.

Ultimately, the killer instinct was missing. Many good players went cold in the heat of the contest.

There were the occasional wins which reflected hard work and application. But India was not a force to reckon with.

The World Cup win in 1982 changed things a bit. Confidence crept in slowly. But results in Tests particularly were few and far between. The mindset was defensive and draws were the ultimate aim.

The perception changed when Saurav Ganguly took over as captain. His shirt-waving antics during a one-day victory in England epitomised the change of attitude.

The aggressive, foul-mouthed Australians, the sledge masters from England and others now met resistance.

The times they were a changing alright. One can never forget Yuvraj Singh going after Andrew Flintoff, bat raised, when the England all-rounder insulted the batsman after his sixes barrage. Or Harbhajan Singh spewing venom on Andrew Symonds.

Some of these acts cannot be condoned. At the same time, sledging had become part and parcel of the game and the umpire was there if it got out of hand.

So the aggro merchants now began to whine when the Indians retaliated. They did not expect it.

This attitude also fostered the killer instinct. Indians began to win respect, particularly under Mahendra Singh Dhoni.

Kohli, unlike Captain Cool, wears his heart on his sleeve. He shows emotions and is not afraid of it.

Once you get the taste of victory it then becomes a habit. It has taken decades but India has finally found the potent mixture.
So be assured. The Indians will “look the Aussies in the eye and make them play ball” .

Babu Kalyanpur

Babu Kalyanpur, ( Consulting Editor) has rich experience in both sports and business journalism. Babu has led news desks in Pune and Bahrain and writes extensively on his passion, sports and business besides current affairs and matters of importance to Pune.

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