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    August 01, 2008

    India's one-man batting armies

    The Indian team's batting performances in the last decade can be roughly divided into three phases.

    Phase 1 would have been from 1998-2001 where Sachin Tendulkar was really the only one making runs. The entire batting revolved around him. Dravid, Laxman & Ganguly were yet to establish themselves while Azhar was on the downhill slope. This was the period where he had some unforgettable knocks against Australia (Chennai in 1997-98, Melbourne in 1999-2000, a double treat at Mumbai in 2000-2001 & Chennai in 2000-2001), Pakistan (Chennai in 1998-99) and South Africa (Bloemfontein in 2000-2001). Basically, it was a case of "Get Tendulkar, and the rest will follow". Almost all the knocks mentioned were of that variety, most painful of all being the one against Pakistan at Chennai.

    Phase 2 would have been from 2002-2004 Rahul Dravid where was the one around whom the batting revolved. Although there were vital contributions from others, he towered over the rest with his knocks against Australia (Adelaide in 2003-2004 & indeed the rest of the series), England (Headingley in 2002), Pakistan (Rawalpindi in 2003-2004). In the last 2-3 years, he has had the odd great test/knock (e.g. see his twin gems at Jamaica), but the consistency is missing. When Dravid failed, at most you had a few instances where the likes of Laxman, Tendulkar, Sehwag or Ganguly did the job. But by and large, his was the most prized wicket.

    I would say we are in phase 3 currently where Virender Sehwag is the chap around whom the batting revolves, despite him being in and out of the side recently. He scores so bloody rapidly, the bowling side is shocked at his audacity. His teammates are typically too shocked to continue the good work, and end up handing over the initiative to the opposition. Sample some of his thrillers: Pakistan (Mohali & Bangalore in 2004-2005, Lahore in 2005-2006), West Indies (nearly a century before lunch on day one). He also scored his first ever 2nd innings century (151) earlier this year at Adelaide when no-one else made more than 20!

    Let's see for how much longer the Sehwag phase will continue. When it ends, whose turn will it be to pick up the baton? Raina? Rohit Sharma? Yuvraj? Dhoni? Gambhir? Or will it be someone totally out of the blue and unexpected?

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    Thus spake Jagadish @ 12:29 am |
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