SUCCESS
Experience in the squad sets up this Indian team for overseas success

Image result for Experience in the squad sets up this Indian team for overseas successJadeja currently has 438 points among the all-rounders while Shakib has 431 points.

There is a bit of déjà vu about this Sri Lankan tour. The hosts are still a bruised and battered, terribly weak ened outfit and there is a discerna ble gulf in quality from the visiting side, never mind the fight-back from Dimuth Karunaratne and Kusal Mendis in the second Test at the SSC.

This Indian team is much the same as it was in 2015 with only a couple of new faces in the squad. Even the head coach is the same, only his designation has changed. There are umpteen similarities, and only a few disparities. Like, the Galle pitch for one. Two years ago, the first Test was a thriller. This time around, the opening Test boasted the monotony of a continued home-season for team India ­ a flat track, tall score and 20 wickets. Job done.

Turn over the pages of 2016-17, and you can pick out just how many times this Indian team adopted this approach. Barring the odd rank turner against Australia, for most part of the New Zealand and England (as well as Bangladesh) series, Virat Kohli’s men battled on proper pitches, and worked out victories. Working the fifth bowler angle, it is almost as if they have become proficient in handling such flat-track wickets, an underlining weakness of the same side under MS Dhoni.

This is where another huge differentiation begins to emerge. When Kohli landed in Lanka, he termed the 2015 series win here as a `landmark’ for this team. Ahead of the second Test, coach Ravi Shastri had underlined that victory’s importance in how it could be a stepping-stone for the future.“None of the previous Indian teams, including some very big players, who visited here in the past 20 years won here. This team did,“ he said.

At this juncture, you want to return to that 2015 series. The Indian team had landed here weary from its two-season long overseas sojourn, but at the same time, were raring to go under a new fulltime Test skipper. That Lankan series win was an amalgamation of their experiences in South Africa, New Zealand, England and Australia with their desire to win away from home.

 Through successive series losses away, they learnt what needed to be done to traverse that extra bit and reach the finish line. Dhoni had always termed this a learning process ­ from losses to salvaging draws, to winning one-off Tests or getting into winning positions, and finally, to closing out series wins. That last bit is yet to happen in different climes and tougher conditions that cannot be classified under sub-continental.But at the very least, victory has already come about once before, `away from home’. That psychological switch has been triggered.

“In 2015, we were sandwiched in the middle of a leadership takeover. From then on, we had set ourselves a lot of goals for each other and I would say we have achieved them and come out with flying colours in the last couple years as a group,“ said R Ashwin, who celebrated his 50th Test in Galle.

For Ashwin, that Lanka series was a return of sorts, having missed out playing in New Zealand, for much of the England tour, and thereafter sitting out in Adelaide when rookie leg-spinner Karn Sharma was picked ahead of him. From then onwards, it has been a sharp ascendancy for his career graph. The off-spinner though believes the first part of his career wherein he struggled overseas is more important. And in certain way, it holds true for the remainder of this team as well.

Sample this. Cheteshwar Pujara played his 50th Test at the SSC. Virat Kohli has already played 59 Tests, Murali Vijay 51, Ajinkya Rahane 39, Ravindra Jadeja 32, Shikhar Dhawan 25 and Umesh Yadav 33. Then, there is also Ishant Sharma, with 77 Tests in his kitty. This is a situation akin to the golden generation of Indian cricket.

Remember 1999?
The likes of Sourav Ganguly, Rahul Dravid, VVS Laxman and Anil Kumblestruggled in Australia under Sachin Tendulkar. They had struggled earlier in England and South Africa, as a team if not individually in certain cases. At the turn of the millennium, when they returned on those tours again, they wrote brilliant chapters in the annals of Indian cricket. Kohli and company stand at that same marker today, and perhaps there is only success to look forward to.

“When you say overseas tours like South Africa, England and Australia, it is a lot of tough cricket coming up. I see it as an opportunity. This team can do things that probably no other Indian team has done,“ claimed Shastri, in his inimitable no-holds barred manner.

His words have almost worked as a prediction, already. Kohli’s men wrapped up a second series win on Lankan soil with an innings and 53run win in Colombo. They could go further yet, securing a whitewash overseas. Few Indian teams have done this in the past, even fewer have dreamt to do so.

NUMBER ONE
Ravindra Jadeja on Tuesday edged out Bangladesh’s Shakib Al Hasan to claim the top-rank among allrounders to go with his No. 1 ranking in the Test bowling charts. Jadeja currently has 438 points among the all-rounders while Shakib has 431 points. Jadeja has been suspended for third and final Test against Sri Lanka for breaching ICC Code of Conduct. He was the man of the match for his unbeaten 70 and seven wickets in the second Test.

[“Source-economictimes”]

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