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Dhoni Brigade arrives
Sridhar K Penna It has been a historic series for Team India on more than one count. First and foremost being the forthright end to the cynics'...
Sridhar K Penna It has been a historic series for Team India on more than one count. First and foremost being the forthright end to the cynics' overall condemnation of Captain Cool that preceded the series.A The effervescent Mahendra Singh Dhoni had, ostensibly, lost the famed 'Midas Touch'. By regaining the Border-Gavaskar Trophy (the battle for supremacy between India and Australia) with `élan, he has silenced his critics, at least for now If it has been touted as a 'revenge' series then the Indians have avenged it with a purposeful display of clinical precision. In a dramatic turn of events, the players rose to the occasion in spectacular style by taming the 'mighty' visitors in three successive matches, which, in itself, is a record of sorts. As things appear, it could well end in an unprecedented brown-wash, a dubious distinction in the annals of Australia's otherwise overwhelmingly envious folklore. The six-wicket win at Mohali brings an end to a 19-year drought, which was the last time that India had notched up three successive Test wins against an opponent in the same series. The redoubtable 3-0 triumph was achieved by Mohammad Azharuddin against Sri Lanka way back in 1994. However, if one considers that the earlier success was against a relative greenhorn at that point in time, then the latest accomplishment is against an opponent, which is formidable taken under any yardstick. Of course, one could surmise that the present bunch of Australians is a far cry from the near invincible force it was. Today it is, more or less, a vulnerable side that is going through its own transition, a la India of a year ago. The fall from grace to ignominy has brought the cricketing travails of the team from Down Under a full circle. This has been aptly described by Sourav Ganguly, "They don't have the batsmen to play spinners and spinners to take wickets here." That, in a nutshell, explains the traumatic tour, which, Michael Clarke would like to erase from memory, once and for all, the accusations of indiscipline and players dishing out below-par performances, notwithstanding. A bigger bother for Australians will be that the Ashes will begin next month and the form of the players is anything but encouraging. Coming back to the Indian angle, in a way, the amazing turnaround, or even transformation, brings to the fore topics like who inspired the majestic comeback from the throes, considering the disasters against England in the backyard and the humiliating 0-4 drubbing in Australia, despite the presence of 'super' batsmen in the ranks, rankled the hearts of every fan. There is no doubt that credit should go to individual performers like Cheteshwar Pujara, Murali Vijay, Virat Kohli, Ravichandran Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja and last but not the least, Shikhar Dhawan, whose telling knockout punches are cast in the mould of the mercurial Virender Sehwag. The Young Turks have the spunk and come as forcefully promising characters, which is a welcome change from the morose atmosphere that prevailed when stalwarts retired in double-quick succession. However, as things stand, the biggest salutation ought to go to Dhoni for marshalling his resources to admirable levels and knitting a winning combination. Not only did he give glimpses of a hitherto unknown facet (Captain Courageous) but he truly came of age behind the stumps and also as a batsman worth his weight in the playing eleven. It is perhaps the beginning of a firmly cemented revival path, which, hopefully, will translate into equal success against the South Africans in December. It all depends on how the team stays focussed and motivated considering that the jamboree going by the name of Indian Premier League (IPL) gets underway precisely a week after the Australian adventure concludes. Even as the countrymen are overly busy with frenzied celebrations and are rediscovering the near-forgotten sense of euphoria, the one individual who must be smiling away to glory with a distinct stamp of déj� vu must be Duncan Fletcher, who has been blessed with another stint, thanks to the largesse of the BCCI boss, N Srinivasan, despite an overall abysmal track-record in his resume. Amid all these, there is hope that following the magical showing, the reignited and invigorated boys will take India to the top echelons all over again.