India lost more than just being at the top

While the country was carried in the enthusiasm led by Anna Hazarre, half-way around the world, Team India lost 4 test matches against England to loose their #1 position. While England thrashed India in all departments across 4 match series and went ahead to take number 1 spot, India lost not just the matches, but also the series and their pride as as a cricket team.

Revelation beyond expectation | Indian cricket team has work to do

Mahendra Singh Dhoni of India in action during...

Image via Wikipedia

In some sense I am happy that I did this and sad that no one in BCCI or Indian camp is talking about it. Unless we know where we are we cant look to get better. We need to know our missing points. I rather be a critic to point out the things that didnt go well for my team than be a fan who sits back and enjoy what could be a short-lived victory. I am forced to make to make a comparison with good intentions towards my team. I know, some people will still think me being naive to think all of this and not just be happy, but I want someone to listen and maybe they do.

It started a few days back when my cousin started to propagate Dhoni’s leadership skills over the team members in CSK in IPL. I had liked Dhoni always, but the fan base that called out Dhoni’s captaincy so good that it started to show off other players in the team worthless – was something that ticked me off. In one of the discussion my cousin actually mentioned that players like Bollinger and Raina and Morkel are performing because Dhoni was motivating them.

I took it personally because it meant that the WC victory was only Dhoni’s doing and so was every feat India has achieved in Cricket in last few years and it was hurting. I know she meant no harm and she loves Indian cricket as much as any other Indian, but it was the ticking point for me.

All of this went into hyper drive when I had another discussion with Vineet Malani on Facebook where he was chanting about Dhoni’s captaincy and ignoring facts of what has happened around India and world of cricket. His point was simple – all that India has achieved is because of Dhoni’s captaincy and I wanted to tell them No – any captain in this scenario would have does what Dhoni has done.

I do agree to the fact that Dhoni is a good captain and maybe the best of what India has had, however he is not Great. However, in my zeal to find facts I ended up dissecting India’s path to being no#1 in test cricket and it was a revelation. In my post Deep dive | India route to Test#1; I ended up finding that we are where we are because of the fact that Australia failed to achieve the top standards they have been in the past. India’s efforts have only been marginally better than those of Australia between a period of 2008-2010. And, it was so hurting for me to realize that we are just as good as their worst. I do hope that going forward we can do so much more better than we have in the past and take it to the top level cricket. Australia between 2005 and 2008 have had 70% winning percentage and only 15% each of lost and draw. We managed to equal their worst performance to be #1.

India team – please do so very well in future; my best wishes are with you. Dhoni you are lucky for India and I wish you can take us to peaks where we are untouchables just like Australia were a few years back. I wish that day comes and I will write about you and how you took us to be on the top of the world so convincingly; where we will set benchmarks.

Deep dive | India’s route to Test#1

Mahendra Singh Dhoni at Adelaide Oval

Image via Wikipedia

I blogged about some stats and when i was cross checking I noticed something was off and I did the correction. Also, while i was doing the corrections, I wondered what attributed to India taking #1 position and how did Dhoni impacted that revolution. What I found was a revelation of facts that a lot of is was favorable and because of Australia and SA not doing their best and India matching up their worst or just being a little better.

To begin with the correction from earlier post is: India streak in tests not loosing a match is 14. Started on 10/9/2008 against Australia (Draw) and ended when they lost to SA on 2/6/2010. during this period India went from 3rd position (100 points) to 1st position (124 points). Also note that during period Australia dropped from 141 points to 116 and SA went from 116 to 120 points and were 2nd in rankings when they beat India.

Lets see how India, Australia and SA fared in this time period:

Played Wins Loss Draw Home Away Wins Home Wins Away Opponents – Home Opponents Away
India 31 15 6 10 19 12 9 6 SA, Aus, Eng, SL, NZ SL, NZ, Bng, SA
Australia 37 17 13 7 21 16 9 8 NZ, SA, WI, Pak, Eng WI, Ind, SA, Eng, NZ, Pak
SA 28 13 8 7 12 16 5 8 Ban, Aus, Eng, Ind Ind, Eng, Aus, WI, Pak
Home % Home Win% Away Win% Win % Loss %
India 61 60 40 48 19
Australia 57 53 47 46 35
SA 43 38 62 46 29

So a pattern clearly emerges – India played less matches in this period and their matches played at home were significantly high. They just played 4 series against Aus and SA and rest were against weaker test teams like WI and Bangladesh (note Australia was not winning enough either and were declining)

Australia were loosing heavily and given their better win rates in 2004-2007, they were loosing points because of the 3-year cumulative match in the ICC Ranking system. That how even in some periods where they were not loosing, they were loosing on points because they played lesser cricket and were playing against teams way below them compared to in 2004 where they were facing top teams.

South Africa were kind of neutral, but definitely played more matches abroad and had series against India and Australia consistently.

Also, note that India remained on top because their Loosing % is significantly higher than other two, while their win percent is almost same. This means they were drawing a lot more than others.

Overall, it clearly presents a case where India has been more conservative on their test playing strategies – playing less, playing at home, don’t loose and play safe to draw.

Now, if all that was played just as I can see all of those, good strategy to be number one. It is like saying “Let the others fight and diminish their resources and we will come on top because of their losses.”

Now – please tell me what did Dhoni do to take India here – it just happened. With a good team and safe strategy forces were in our favor. I am happy we are number one, but Dhoni did nothing in all this to happen. As a captain he could not do what all others in the past have struggled – improve our performance overseas. Change that – and then be called a Great Captain.