A Year of Fresh Hopes

Indian cricket team is about to start its first overseas tour after Sachin Tendulkar‘s retirement. The team has been playing a lot of cricket without Tendulkar over the past few years, but now it is official that Tendulkar is a former Indian cricketer. As India prepare for a challenging and at the same time exciting tour in South Africa, let us look at the year 2013, that has given fresh hopes for Indian cricket.

2013 has been an outstanding year for India. They have won everything, not only virtually, but in reality too. The ODI series against England, the test series against Australia, both at home, the Champions Trophy in England, the tri-series in West Indies, the one day series against Zimbabwe in Zimbabwe, the one day series against Australia at home, and the test and one day series against West Indies also at home.

It’s a remarkable achievement and a run that could be classified as the stuff of champions. But one diminishing factor about this is that most of the times India have played at home this year. All the six test match victories have been in India, that too against oppositions who were clearly not well equipped to handle sub-continental conditions.

One unquestionable aspect of India’s performance is that they have become a better ODI side over the years. They now play this format better than most teams and are rightly placed as the number one team in ODI cricket at the moment. A lot of the credit for this success goes to the batting firepower that India have at their disposal.

It  has often come to the team’s rescue even when the bowling has been abysmal at times. In fact, India under MS Dhoni’s captaincy have started to win the big moments in a match and they have learnt  to cope with pressure situations and to come out victorious, a trait exhibited by the Australian teams of the early 2000s.

If we look at India’s ODI record from the year 2000, it is in 2013 that India have won most matches in a calendar year, 22 wins from 31 matches.  In fact, even if the list is extended back to India’s introduction to ODI cricket, there is only one year, 1998, when India had won more matches in a calendar year than in 2013,  24 wins from 40 matches.

India in ODIs from 2000

India in ODIs from 2000

Even though, all the test match victories this year have  been in India, it is a significant step in the right direction as far as Indian cricket is concerned. After the much talked about overseas debacles in England and Australia and the home series defeat to England, the team really needed to get its act together in the test match arena.

Post the retirements of stalwarts like Dravid and Laxman, the young batsmen have shown no stage fear and lent stability to the batting order. People have already started calling out Dhawan, Pujara, Kohi and Rohit as the new Fab Four. Whether or not that’s fair, it must be acknowledged that they look every inch, the men to carry forward, India’s batting legacy in test cricket.

India in Tests from 2000

India in Tests from 2000

Apart from the blotch in 2011- 2012,  India have had a decent run in test match cricket too over the past decade. All the captains who skippered during this period valued overseas performance and the results were there to show for.

India had won test series in Pakistan, West Indies,England and New Zeland. Drawn series in Sri Lanka, Australia and South Africa. At home, they have lost only three series during this period, one against South Africa in 2000, one against the mighty Australia in 2004 and the other against a resolute and clinical England in 2012.

If India manages to win both the test matches in South Africa, it will be a new record as it will be the first time in their cricket history, they win all the matches in a calendar year. That looks like a far cry considering they have to beat the world’s best test side at their own backyard.

All the fans will be hoping for is a decent fight from a young team, and if they can provide that, India can cap off this wonderful year of 2013, one that may well go on to be known as the year which saw a new a dawn in Indian cricket.

Stats Courtesy : ESPNCricinfo Statsguru

This post first appeared on Sportskeeda


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December 5, 2013 · 10:57 am

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