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England impress as India set new world order

Aakash Chopra | 17:28 UK time, Thursday, 25 December 2008

The wrong choice of venue prevented the cricket fan from experiencing five full days of play and it also decreased the chances of a result considerably.

Perhaps the choice was dictated by the prevailing circumstances in the country but it robbed the viewers of what could have been an exciting finish.

At Mohali, or for that matter at any place in the North of India, fog plays a major role in dictating the outcome.

This was the case in the second Test too because the game never began on time and finished without finishing the stipulated number of overs for the day, thanks to some quickly fading light in the evening.

India won the toss and elected to bat first. It was indeed a good batting surface but overcast conditions might have forced Dhoni to have second thoughts about the decision.

If it didn't, Sehwag's early dismissal certainly would have. With an out-of-form Rahul Dravid batting at three, it could easily have been a different story.


But Dravid found some form at just the right moment and brought up a well-deserved century in testing conditions both on and off the field.

On the field the English bowling have shown a lot of depth and variety, enough to make the batsmen work hard for their runs; and off the field there was the intense media scrutiny over the career of Dravid and he responded in the only way he knows - by scoring runs.

Gautam Gambhir, along with Dravid, ensured India reached to a strong position. Gautam has matured as a batsman and scoring 1000 Test runs in 2008 underlines his consistency.

The English bowling has impressed me a great deal as they've managed to ask more questions in two Test matches than the Australian team did in the previous four.

In Graeme Swann they have unearthed a good off-spinner and if Monty Panesar can find form, who I think needs to add variety in terms of bowling speed to be more effective, they can be a very competent spin duo to complement their already more than decent fast bowling attack.

Once India posted 453 runs in the first innings, taking into account the number of overs lost everyday, only two results seemed likely: another win for India or a draw.

England, to their credit, pursued the game and with some very aggressive batting, the Test began to come to life again. But despite Pietersen's blistering century, which deserves a special mention as it was a display of high-class aggressive batting, England still ended up conceding a huge first innings lead.

India lost early wickets and couldn't drive home the advantage. They chose caution over aggression and decided to shut shop.

There was a fair amount of criticism in the media about India's approach but, considering that India were already 1-0 up in the series and it was the last Test match of what has been a very long and demanding season, one could understand and even somewhat sympathise with their decision.

The Indian team has gone from strength to strength in the year 2008, where they started with their tour to Australia and finished the year on a bright note, beating both Australia and England to maintain the impeccable record at home.

After seeing the English team bowl on lifeless Indian wickets and bat against quality spin, I can see the gap bridging between the top Test teams in the world.

Australia can no longer take their numero uno position for granted as there are some serious contenders to challenge their supremacy.

Australia, India, South Africa and England form the elite group and we are assured some exciting Test cricket whenever these four are involved against each other.

I'm eagerly looking forward to the Ashes contest this summer.


  • Comment number 1.

    How can you not include Sri Lanka in the elite group.

    Incase you forgot they beat India in a Test Series. India has always been good at home, I think you can only consider them elite once they start winning away from home.

    And I am waiting to see Pakistan as well. They are hungry for not playing Test cricket in a whilte.

    However going back to my point a team with Murli and Mendis has to be counted in the elite.

  • Comment number 2.

    See the record of LAnkans and murali in australia, tell me how many wickets he has taken there recently, and enumerate the games when they got all 20 australian wickets, there wasn't even a draw. India had won the second test in Lanka. As regards Pakistan, Shoib akhtar is key,their fortunes depend upon him.HE is a match winner.

  • Comment number 3.

    Agreed. Lankans are really tigers at home, but away, save in Bangladesh and Zimbabwe, they'll be thrashed by all teams. Murali is a legend, Mendis is just a soon to be broken mystery. Post Murali, Lanka will be relegated to the league of Zimbabwe and Bangladesh.

  • Comment number 4.

    I think Sri Lanka should be in the elite team. Apart from Muruli, they have a strong batting order and a competitive pace attack. Ok, Vass is comming to the end of his career but there is a bunch of young fast bowlers coming behind. Dont forget "STING" Malinga and Mahroof as well. And Mendis will soon become the world most fear spin bowler. The last two series they play against England was a draw in England and a series win in Sri Lanka. If England hadnt been negative against them in one of the tests in Sri Lanka that ended in a draw Last winter, Sri Lanka would have climbed up to second in the world ranking behind Australia in the world ranking; and also remember, they were in the final of the last world cup. So tell me why the are not in the world elite?

  • Comment number 5.

    After 2006, England have ost to the Aussies (0-5), Sri Lanka, India (twice, home and away) and South Africa. They have won only against NZ, BD and WI.

    I don't understand how England can be classified an elite team.

  • Comment number 6.

    India in the elite? Nah, over hyped, over paid and overweight.

    Be nothing when Dravid, Laxman and Sachin retire. Nearly 30,000 runs gone and only fatty Yuvraj to fill hole. Rohit Sharma is useless too.

    We'll see how bad it gets it Jaffer gets call up. That is called scraping the barrel.

  • Comment number 7.


  • Comment number 8.

    England are not an elite team. How dare you say that. The other 3 teams i can agree. But i do feel that Pak and SL can be on that list. India is being very crafty by trying to push their subcontinent rivals away from the other big teams. They have so much money they can monopolise the game now.
    I remember an australian once say that SL are possibly the most talented team all round (bowling, batting, fielding). But whether they actually fulfill that remains to be seen.

  • Comment number 9.

    It is funny that people keep calling Mendis a 'solvable mystery'
    Do you really think Mendis and his coach are stupid enough to make themselves predictable? Ofcourse not! He will work hard to keep mixing up the deliveries. And dont forget that Mendis does not require much turn off the track. Therefore he will be a threat on faster and bouncier pitches than murali. Aus and SA pitches will suit Mendis much better than Murali.
    Also SL have Malinga who is the best bowler of reverse swinging yorkers in the world at the moment.
    SL have promising line and length bowlers like Maharoof, Prasad.
    There also many other promising bowlers and batsman at the domestic level waiting to get into the national team. For a small island their future looks good.
    SL also have the highest number of world records of any team (at least they did when i last checked).
    So for people saying that SL are like Zimbabwe without Murali are living in a dreamworld

  • Comment number 10.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 11.

    If SL count in the elite of world cricket, Ian Bell is the next Bradman!!

    When they play at SSC and Galle, yes, they can pretend to be competitive but, come on, with 2 or 3 chuckers in the team, how far they can go....

  • Comment number 12.

    Ellite group, I guess I'd like to agree.
    England is right on the edge of this group i.e. if they don't raise their level in next year they are very well out of this group. SriLanka deserves be in the group becuase of quality of sub continent, but same players lack application outside sub-continent...
    Pakistan: Its fair to pakistan has got very few chances to play test cricket in last one year...are at par with Sri-Lanka on test credentials.....Please note I'm talking only about test cricket.

    India: Very good side....on the up. For immediate requirements to remain in this group...they need another two quickies...for backup...and in two years time they need to find solid replacement for Laxman, Sachin....I see Dravid going in one year time and India has replacement for him.....
    SA is looking good...Aussies are still as good as SA/ India....and will remain..because of great sporting culture....

  • Comment number 13.

    Malinga is a chucker? Malinga keeps his arm straight. So how can you call him a chucker? Because he has a sideways action? Then Jeff Thomson should also be a chucker. Then what will you say? 'Jeff Thomson isnt as sideways as Malinga?'
    I dont want to go into this chucker issue because tests have confirmed that pretty much every main bowler in every single team bend their arms beyond the old limit. That is why they created the new 15degree law. Otherwise they would have had to ban a long list of bowlers from many nations.
    So please stop this chucker crap.
    And yes. England are not good enough to be in the elite. If you havent noticed since the 2005 ashes victory they have been mediocre at best.

  • Comment number 14.

    11. At 11:40am on 27 Dec 2008, luckyeightyseven wrote:

    If SL count in the elite of world cricket, Ian Bell is the next Bradman!!

    When they play at SSC and Galle, yes, they can pretend to be competitive but, come on, with 2 or 3 chuckers in the team, how far they can go?
    I suggest you save this comment, print it and frame it. Cos SL are on the way up. And very soon you will be eating out of my hand. I guarantee it.

  • Comment number 15.

    At 11:40am on 27 Dec 2008, gv_gandhi
    You are correct i would say. Your comment makes more sense than the anti-SL and Pak rubbish that others are spewing out.
    SL biggest problem is consistency especially in test matches. But i do feel that they are improving and i feel that in the near future they will be very strong in test matches.
    As for Pak i am not sure what is going on with them.
    But i do know that SL and PAK desperately need more opportunities to play better teams. I dont think it is fair that India are taking all the big teams one after another. What is left for SL and Pak? WI, Zim and Bangladesh?

  • Comment number 16.

    yes india are the new force in world cricket

    but tentalkar and vvs laxman and
    Rahul Dravid will be ritiring and i do not think that they will find the quaitlt to replace them

  • Comment number 17.

    England in "Elite" group.
    So to be one of the top sides of the world, all you need is to get thrashed by India. And the rest will be done by indian media.
    What else would Sri lanka need to do gain those favours ......... drop mendis !!!!!

  • Comment number 18.

    All SL needs to do is win few more tests not not test series away from su-continent....can you list few test matches in last few years and try and compare record with SA/Aus/Ind.....
    England as I said is right on the edge and sitting on its past laurels for far too long....

  • Comment number 19.

    For the record, Sri Lanka drew the test series in WI and won all other. If I'm right SL and SA are the only teams to not to loose a test series this year. Sad that SL doesn't get enough matches like other countries. Even Bangladesh has played more test matches than SL this year!
    I guess it would be much easier to carry the foam and the consistency when you are playing with out long gaps.

  • Comment number 20.

    I think the Best answer can be given for the comment below is this.
    ICC-Reliance mobile test championship

    Team Rating No of matches
    Australia 130 34
    India 118 43
    south africa 117 37
    Sri Lanka 108 28
    England 104 38

    (from 2004 to today)
    As you see the least no of matches played team is SL. but india is ahead only by 10 although they have played 15 more matches than SL.


    ID Rat. Name Nat.
    1 900 S. Chanderpaul WI
    2 886 K.C. Sangakkara SL
    3 880 Mohammad Yousuf PAK
    4 837 D.P.M.D. Jayawardena SL
    5 832 K.P. Pietersen ENG
    6 803 M.E.K. Hussey AUS
    7 799 Younis Khan PAK
    8 797 G.C. Smith SA
    9 778 R.T. Ponting AUS
    10 771 G. Gambhir IND

    There are two players from SL among best 5. Is there at least a one player from AUS, SA, IND among top 5?


    ID Rat. Name Nat.
    1 895 M. Muralidaran SL
    2 807 D.W. Steyn SA
    3 805 M. Ntini SA
    4 798 S.R. Clark AUS
    5 779 M.G. Johnson AUS
    6 723 R.J. Sidebottom ENG
    7 717 B. Lee AUS
    8 686 Harbhajan Singh IND
    9 684 W.P.U.J.C. Vaas SL
    9 684 Shoaib Akhtar PAK

    Have a look. SL has two among top 10 while Murali being the best. Mendis also will appear soon when he play more matches.

    No doubt SA & AUS far ahead than other teams.
    But it wont remain much more longer time as the subcontinent teams are risin.

  • Comment number 21.

    England are NOT good enough to be in the elite group, but then nor are Sri Lanka or Pakistan.

    Australia and South Africa are the two top team with India somewhat behind them (when was the last time India beat Aus or SA away?).

    Eng, SL and Pak are too inconsistent even to be ranked alongside Ind, and also struggle away. Aus and SA have performed in all conditions over recent years even though they may not have dominated Ind on the subcontinent they have competed well, unlike the reverse.

  • Comment number 22.

    I did some research and tried to compare record of SA in sub-continent in last couple of years and India away from sub-continent:

    Result Tie

    SA played 7 matches in sub-continent and won in same period as India played 14 matches and won 4. Funny isn't it.

    Please note I didn't include Bangladesh record...I'm sure you'll agree...

  • Comment number 23.

    I did some research and tried to compare record of SA in sub-continent in last couple of years and India away from sub-continent:

    Result Tie

    SA played 7 matches in sub-continent and won 2 in same period as India played 14 matches and won 4. Funny isn't it.

    Please note I didn't include Bangladesh record...I'm sure you'll agree...

  • Comment number 24.

    england got crap when Kevin the turncoat started playing , ok he played a bit in the ashes played crap dropped loads of catches made a slow century on a rain delayed final day and everybody loved him

  • Comment number 25.

    With south africa having just clinched the series in Australia, and India having a stella year aswell. I think i can speak for a fair amount of people that would say a SA vs IND series could be a cracker especially in SA, i know these series seem to come in circles but i would be interested to know when that particular series is set to commence.

  • Comment number 26.

    #16 for that exact reason you mentioned india are not the new world order, or if they are they will not be for long. When those three retire they will lose the spine of the side which will be hard to replace. Great openers Sehwag and Gambhir, but the middle order is not getting any younger and when they go it will take some time to replace them (similar to warne and McGrath for Australia).

    For me SA are the new world order and World Number 1 test side elect (i could be mistaken but i believe a whitewash in sydney would give them #1). They have won more tests in last 18 months than any other side, have a solid test side that has just beaten australia in australia. The first time they have lost in thier home land since 1992. I go back to my last comment, a SA vs IND series would be a cracking series to watch

  • Comment number 27.

    I know India had good year, but apart from couple of tests in Australia, rest of them were played in subcontinent (3 v S Africa, 3 in SLanka, 4 v Aus and 2 v Eng). Until they win a test series (not a single test) in Australia and S Africa, you cant call them world beaters.

  • Comment number 28.

    Team India ended 2008 in style.

    We have quality pacemen who strike early with the red cherry, intelligent spinners and wicket-taking part time bowlers who disallow meaningful partnerships.

    Long Qs of batsmen are waiting all over the country to get into the playing eleven. The ongoing annual Ranji trophy competition has brought into focus some exceptional talent from across the country.

    England played well in the Chennai and Mohali Tests. KP and his gifted squad should do well in the Ashes Series.

    Let us wish all our cricketers plenty of success, fitness and good times in 2009.

    Dr. Cajetan Coelho

  • Comment number 29.

    Akash Chopra's blog is a typical outcome of trying to serve 2 masters at the same time; his Indian heritage and his adopted or naturalized British-ness. To suggest that Indian cricket 'sets new world order' is laughable at best. What has India achieved preciously and for how long for them to deserve such a high accolade? They have beaten a sinking Aussies team (who were getting walloped by SA at home the last time I checked) and beaten a very average English side that save for a handful of misguided fans wouldn't rank anywhere higher than 6th or 7th. To categorize them as 'elite' is not laughable but tragic. This Indian team on the other hand was soundly thrashed just this past summer by Sri Lanka and if not for a Sehwag moment of magic (200+ in Galle) would've and should've lost the series 0-3. Therefore' new 'Indian world order', I think not and English and elite in the same sentence most definietly not.

  • Comment number 30.

    The SA team does not have stronger bench as compared to India. The current team touring Australia has Ashwell Prince, Robin Peterson, Lonwabo Tsotsobe, Monde Zondeki, Vaughn van Jaarsveld.
    If 1-2 Key players like Smith, Steyn and Kallis get injured they will stuggle.
    As compared India has better players on the bench like Munaf patel, R P Singh, Rohit Sharma, S Raina who have proven thier worth in International Arena.
    India edge SA here.
    So both India and South Africa has a long way to go to be No 1 and be consistent !

  • Comment number 31.

    Indeed India beat a faltering Australia team and as always a directionless English side. The truth remains however that with the 3rd ODI victory over Sri Lanka India has won 8 succesive ODI's against teams that claim to be amongst the elite. The only test left now is South Africa who with no doubt will pose a great challenge. But as far as proving their worth as a side India have clearly shown their worth to be greater than that of England, Australia and Sri Lanka. Anther side to be considered once was Pakistan but today one can't really consider them a regular in the international cricket arena. For all critics of India thus whether you be supporters of Australia, South Africa or Sri Lanka, please let the records speak.


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