Fighting comebacks in Indian cricket
06 August, 2013
Mumbai: Indian cricket's most serious moments of crisis have led to some fighting comebacks; in fact, such has been the trend that the worse the crisis, the better has been the fightback, Indian media reported on Monday.
Here's a look at how, when the game touched a big low, cricketers got together to give it all a new high.
Soon after Delhi police caught Hansie Cronje on tape in 2000, the former South African skipper's revelations opened a pandora's box and cricket in India hit its first low in the wake of some very serious match-fixing allegations. Viewership and fan-following took a hit as investigations went on and suspicion - for the first time - got deeply entrenched in the game.
The need of the hour was to restore its popularity in India, and it came a year later. VVS Laxman and Rahul Dravid came together in a historic 376-run stand at Kolkata's Eden Gardens and it infused a great deal of confidence in the minds of one and all. It would mark the beginning of an exceptional run that culminated with India claiming the number one spot in Test rankings in 2008.
A shaky start against minnows Netherlands, followed by a nine-wicket loss to eventual title-winners Australia was enough to politicians to stall parliament proceedings, public to burn effigies on the street and miscreants to pelt cricketers' homes right at the start of the World Cup.
The BCCI too had come under immense pressure to as India struggled to find their feet in South Africa. However, just when experts and commoners alike had begun to give up, Sourav Ganguly's team rose like the phoenix, winning the next eight matches to make it to the final. The title-clash didn't go India's way but a lot of pride certainly got salvaged in the run.
Greg Chappell's experiment, fractured relationships and the debate on a possible divide between the senior and junior cricketers in the team took a toll on the World Cup campaign in the West Indies as Rahul Dravid's team didn't go beyond the first round. It was India's worst outing and the anger of demanding fans led to further agony. Chappell had to leave but in the year that followed, the senior most cricketers in the side -now led by Anil Kumble - worked on the road to resurrection. The Asia Cup, followed by an impressive tour of Australia and success sought at home saw Team India make it to the top of the ICC Test rankings for the first time ever.
The enigmatic MS Dhoni's worst moment as captain of Team India came in the aftermath of eight successive Test defeats in 2011 (four each in England and Australia). The result of it wasn't just a public backlash but selectors too demanding Dhoni's scalp as skipper and wholesale changes in the team.
Dravid and Laxman - who had resurrected Team India's fortunes a decade ago - called it a day and seniors like Sehwag, Yuvraj, Harbhajan and Zaheer were dropped as Dhoni began work on a younger team. The result came in the form of victories at home, followed by a 4-0 whitewash of Australia in early 2013. Dhoni's captaincy received a fresh lease of life with the freedom to build a new Team India as he wished.
Shocking revelations of the involvement of BCCI president N Srinivasan's son-in-law in the betting scandal raised a storm in the Indian cricket fraternity. BCCI's many conflicts of interests, MS Dhoni's player-management company, Delhi and Mumbai police investigations and heavy politicking caught Indian cricket in a mess and it did appear that matters would get worse.
Far away from it all, Dhoni and a young Team India fought great pressure on and off the field to win the Champions Trophy in style - the only title missing from India's cupboard - to restore a bit of faith among fans. India reclaimed the ODI top spot in rankings and the winning streak has continued.