By: Krutarth Vashi,
This makes a complete team, a team which imbibes fear in the opposition. One team that definitely serves the perfect XI dish is the Australian Cricket Team of the early 2000s. Taking over the reins from Steve Waugh, Ricky Ponting’s team was considered a dominant force in the world of cricket from 2000 to 2009, during which the team registered an unbeaten ODI streak of 21 Matches, which included a clean sweep of 11 ODIs in World cup 2003, which the repeated in World Cup 2007 winning all the 11 games they played. Australia’s undefeated run in world cup games stand at a whopping 27 ODIs from 1999 to 2011, just showing the class, temperament, intent and quality of cricket displayed by the team on the field.
Their feat in test cricket was no different achieving a 16-match undefeated streak during 1999-2001 and 2005-2008, the opposition had no clue on how to counter the rolling Aussie Juggernaut. What made that Australian team so dominant that it was compared to mighty West Indian squad of the 1980s? The answer is simple; they had all the ingredients of the recipe mentioned above.
Adam Gilchrist and Matthew Hayden were the most ferocious openers at that time who could take the game away from the opposition in the matter of moments. A rock solid middle order lead by captain Ricky Ponting, Andrew Symonds, Damien Martyn, Darren Lehman and young Micheal Clarke kept the check of run rate in the middle overs. Australia had more than reliable Micheal Bevan who is arguably one of the best finishers the game ever produced, who on countless occasions took the team to victory from the jaws of defeat, and he passed the baton to Mr. Cricket Mike Hussey after he hung up his boots.
The pace attack led by Brett Lee who bowled consistently at 150 kmph and ever reliable Glenn McGrath backing on the consistency and accuracy proved match winners on any given day. Spin section was handled by none other than the wizard Shane Warne, who made the batsman dance on his own tunes once the ball started to grip the surface.
A team of scintillating stars, each of them so perfectly knew their roles, former New Zealand all-rounder Chris Cairns once mentioned, “Even my mother could lead this team to victory.” West Indies great Brian Lara mentioned his problem adjusting to accuracy of Glenn McGrath by stating, “If there are 36 balls to be bowled, and McGrath is going to bowl 26 of those, I would be facing remaining 10 and let Chandrapaul face the 26.”
The Aussies were live wires on the field, always ready to pounce. The slip cordon was guarded by Mark Waugh and later by Matthew Hayden with bucket hands that didn’t drop catches coming his way. Ponting, Symonds and Clarke were brilliant in the field having quick reflexes and accurate throws. As lively they were on the field, as lethal they were in delivering verbal blows at the opposition. The sledging hurled at the opponents was one of the main reasons that the Australians were intimidating.Hayden, McGrath, Ponting, Warne and Symonds spat fire through their tongues making the batsman’s stay at the pitch uncomfortable. A leading newspaper quoted for the Australian cricket team, “If there were a G-7 of sledging countries, Australia would surely be in it.”
Such was the aura of the team, charismatic and effective, which made the team invincible in the era
when cricket was witnessing a transition. Almost a decade has passed and a cricketing world hasn’t
found a team so invincible as the Aussies. But a sneak peak in the cricket stats of the past year and a half, and a cricket lover will say that the current Indian cricket team, under Virat Kohli is as audacious and at par with Ricky Ponting’s team.
The ingredients of the recipe of perfect XI are present in the current Indian squad. Rohit Sharma and Shikhar Dhawan are known for getting fiery starts and have clubbed 12 century stands and 9 innings of 50+ in 75 innings together and are 4 th in the list of most century stands in ODIs, after Tendulkar-Ganguly, Greenidge-Haynes and Gilchrist-Hayden. Virat Kohli leads the middle order by example, already having amassed a whopping 35 centuries and 9588 runs, scoring at a brisk average of 58.11. Kohli’s ability to adapt to situations has made him transform from a reckless brat to big match player. With Ajinkya Rahane, Suresh Raina and Kedar Jadhav holding the fortress, the middle order looks all but perfect. The veteran MS Dhoni might have passed his prime, but is still the batsman most bowlers would fear to bowl to in the final overs. Add to that the experience he brings on during fielding and constant mentoring to the bowlers which has proven to be game changing at times.
The lanky Hardik Pandya has been a revelation for India’s woes of finding a genuine fast bowling all- rounder. Pandya can tonk the ball out of the park at will and though not being able to produce the same match-on- match, he definitely makes the bowler thinks twice about the right length to be bowled.
The bowling department looks settled with Bhuvaneshwar Kumar and Jasprit Bumrah leading the pace attack. With McGrath like consistency and ability to swing the ball both ways makes Kumar a bowler to be handled with great care. On the other hand, Bumrah with an unorthodox action and pace, hits the deck hard and bowls consistently in the area of uncertainty troubling the batsman on frequent basis. The bowling in death overs has been improved significantly since the last World Cup, with Kumar and Bumrah bowling tight lines and Yorkers and keeping the average scoring rate under 7 in the last 10 overs. The young wrist spinners, Yuzvendra Chahal and Kuldeep Yadav, have completely out foxed the batsmen both at home and away. With a total of 33 wickets at an economy rate of 5 between them in the recently concluded ODI series against South Africa, the spinners announced their arrival on big stage.
Former Australian Captain Michael Clarke in an interview with India Today, compared the current Indian side with the dominant Australian squad of early 2000s and said, The current India team has the attitude of the old Australian team. They are not scared of failing. They are going 100 miles an hour and look to dominate every single team. I think India's intent is what Australia used to have. They put that fear in other teams minds.”
Cricket commentator Harsha Bhogle also drew comparisons of this Indian team with Ricky Ponting’s
team. Here’s what he had to say in the video.
http://www.cricbuzz.com/cricket-videos/10899/how- good-is- the-current- indian-team
Live wires on the field and equally verbose, Virat Kohli and his boys do not hold up when it comes to
giving it back to the opposition. In Virat’s words, they want to play and be ‘Ruthless’, giving a little
margin of error to the opponent. And the results are showing clearly. After an astounding home season of test match cricket, where India thrashed every other team, India now have a 9-ODI series victory, only behind the West Indies’ 11 series wins back in 1980s.
Team India has set the juggernaut rolling and it has gained momentum after the crushing the Africans in their own den. If Kohli’s men are able to emulate the feat in the English summer later this year, this team will earn its name in the record books of complete domination and will be termed ‘Invincibles’.
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