Four years ago, the Indian cricket team landed on the Australian shores led by one of the finest gentlemen in the game, with a world class bunch of batsmen and bowlers (Ok, thats stretching it a bit!) with one single mission on their minds: beat the hosts and win a series down under for the first time in their history.
Despite possessing the likes of Rahul Dravid, Sachin Tendulkar, Sourav Ganguly, VVS Laxman, MS Dhoni, Anil Kumble and Zaheer Khan (albeit, for one Test), the mission remained unfulfilled. The tour descended into acrimony, even as the visitors could only manage a solitary win at Perth. Many feared (Ok, just the Indians) that with the next Australian tour a good four years away, the Indian stalwarts would have retired, and the best chance of defeating Australia in their own backyard had just been screwed up.
Well, here we are four years on. How things have changed and yet remained so same! Dravid, Tendulkar and Laxman are still here (like old creaking terminators, as Dravid put it), while the Aussie team is barely recognizable from that tour. It is safe to say that with all of the current problems plaguing the hosts, THIS could turn out to be the best chance for India to secure a historic series victory down under.
Yes, India has an aging middle order which will have to contend with a fiery combo of James Pattinson and Peter Siddle. Yes, they have a largely inexperienced bunch of bowlers consisting of one fragile world class seamer and an assortment of medium pacers who don’t trouble too many batsmen at domestic level either. Yes, they have two exciting spinners who will be playing on seam friendly tracks, far from the comforts of home-made turners against weaker opposition. And yes, for all of Australia’s troubles, they still are a bunch of tough nuts to crack, with the likes of Warner, Ponting, Clarke, Hussey, Siddle, Pattinson and Lyon around.
Still, as a famous man once said (in a completely different context), “Let us not wallow in the valley of despair”.
For, I have a dream.
I have a dream, that for the first time this year, Gautam Gambhir will score an international century.
I have a dream, that Virender Sehwag will carry forward good memories of his last test match at Melbourne; not to forget, his recent barn-storming innings against West Indies in the ODI series.
I have a dream that Dravid, Tendulkar and Laxman will have one last victorious hurrah in a land, that at various stages in their careers, made them the batsmen they are now.
I have a dream that this series will be confirmation that Virat Kohli and Rohit Sharma can take over when the big guns retire.
I have a dream that this series will be MS Dhoni’s proudest win as test skipper.
I have a dream that Ojha and Ashwin will continue to enhance their reputations in a country which hasn’t always been favorable to spinners; also, that they will make up for the supposedly missing ‘fire-in-belly’ due to Harbhajan Singh’s absence.
I have a dream that Zaheer Khan will last atleast two consecutive matches; and win the games for his country, while doing so.
Ditto for Ishant Sharma.
I have a dream that Umesh Yadav can match James Pattinson for pace and guile; and that Vinay Kumar and Mithun will be ready when another pace bowler eventually breaks down.
Most of all, I dream that it will be a fascinating contest between bat and ball, adorned with thrilling performances by seasoned veterans and passionate youngsters; After all, these are #testing times.
This is my hope, and my faith.