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Chandresh Narayanan - Goodwill Hunting

The philosophy of building a separate ODI team was a well managed move

Friday, March 13, 2022
Fresh outlook pays dividends

It seems like yesterday that India was counting the losses at the 2007 World Cup. A nation was betrayed and there was all-round outrage. That seemed to be the end of the world, end of Indian cricket. The doomsayers were out and the world was not a nice to place to live in.

The coach, Greg Chappell, left of his own accord and skipper Rahul Dravid managed to stay on. Then it all began.

The national selectors led by Dilip Vengsarkar, then started taking the tough calls when it came to recalibrate the Indian ODI team. The team's journey from scratch, began believe it or not with Virender Sehwag and Harbhajan Singh being left out.

The series win in Ireland over South Africa set the tone, but the narrow ODI series loss in England still told India that they needed to change personnel. There was a change and instantly India's new-look Twenty20 team managed to chalk a famous World championship win.

But back home against Australia and normal service resumed. There was still no flexibility and the ODI team lacked that something extra that would catapult them to the top echelons.

After careful consideration and lengthy discussions the national selectors began the restructuring of the ODI team. For once an Indian selection panel did not show any sympathy and decided to deal body blows. It marked the end of an era when Sourav Ganguly and Rahul Dravid were left out of the Indian ODI team. It seemed like yesterday that these two men were drafted in way back in 1996 precisely to bring in new ideas into India's ODI set-up. Now a decade later they were being dealt the same way.

It was ruthless, professional and very well managed move for the cricketing world was bought into the philosophy of building a separate ODI team.

It happened one by one, first Dravid was left out, then Ganguly and then both. It seemed that criticism about the decision would weaken the resolve but that was not to be as the selection panel was firm.

A series win in Australia confirmed the potential and the selectors were vindicated. The ODI team was up and running, series losses in Bangladesh and Asia Cup, did not dent the selectors.

They were still not tempted by thought of bringing in Ganguly and Dravid into the probables for the cancelled Champions Trophy. It showed a new vision from the Indian selectors and for once showed that someone wanted to look ahead.

From there on it has just been one way traffic as the selectors along with Dhoni have re-built India's ODI stocks. The series wins in Sri Lanka and over England at home have just justified the thinking of Vengsarkar & Co.

In their vision, now India are threatening to build a strong ODI team which can overpower its rivals with brute power. What is still lacking in this ODI side is a strong all-rounder (preferably a seam bowler), quality fifth bowler and above all a good fielding ethic.

The fielding is still below par and that is the only aspect of India's game still connects it to the dark days of the 1990s. If India have to take the final jump improvement in fielding is a must or else the No 1 spot is still a mirage.