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Team India: The weakest Test champions?

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Has the FTP favoured Team India and helped it gain the number 1 ranking?

Jatin: Not really. It could easily look otherwise. India hasn’t been to Australia, South Africa and England for long now but it looks like more a problem with accommodating the schedules rather than favouring India. The problem is with the way the test champions are decided rather than the schedules.

Hopping: No, but it does seem that way. Any hard-boiled cricket fan will tell you that it’s patently unfair that a team which have never won a Test series in either South Africa or Australia is today ranked number one side in the world in Tests.

Manik: Well the FTP is heavily skewed but it’s not Team India’s fault, is it? They still had to play and win the matches. Yes, the FTP program is unfair, but give due credit to the Indian team for their consistent performance in this period.


Rankings aside, is Team India really the best side in the world?

Jatin: No. Without having beaten Australia, South Africa and England in a series on their home turf, no team can be ranked as the best side. However current Indian team has the potential to clear this test if they get an opportunity to. Pakistan is another team which India has not faced thanks to BCCI’s decision. India really is far from being the best side in the world.

Hopping: On paper, it doesn’t look like India is the best side in world, but the results do add up to give India the top slot. The only thing we can say with absolute certainty about the Indian team is that it possesses the best batting line-up in the world, and has for the past two years. On paper, South Africa looks a better, more balanced side than India.

Manik: I agree with both of you here. There are too many question marks over certain positions in this team for it to be the best in the world.

 

How fair is the ICC ranking system?

Jatin: Overall fair. Until ICC comes up with a better way of deciding the Test Champions, the current method is fair enough. However, both to keep Test Cricket alive and add relevance to the fixtures, ICC has to come up with a better way to decide Test Champions at least.

Hopping: Well, most Indians will be happy to say the ICC ranking system is fair, but we have heard a few rival captains making some concerted noises against it. If India does go on to win in South Africa, I think more people who disagree with the rankings will turn believers. What irks the people who disagree with the ICC method of ranking Test sides is the fact that a team packed with batsmen with obvious weaknesses against the short ball and a bowling attack that struggles to bowl the opposition out twice is firmly ensconced as the top side in Test cricket. Rarely, if ever, has this happened in the many-storied history of Test cricket.

Manik: The ICC ranking system and the FTP may not be unfair on their own but the way they have worked together in this case might make them seem unfair. But now it is up to Team India to prove all the sceptics wrong.

 

Do you think India will be able to retain the top spot for long?

Jatin: Yes. With India’s bowling looking strong (given their ability to take 20 wickets even on Indian pitches) and batting looking better than ever (with more consistency), India surely can carry on for long and be able to answer tougher challenges. The next tour to South Africa will be a very interesting one for India.

Hopping: No. Once Rahul Dravid, Sachin Tendulkar and V.V.S. Laxman retire, the young batsmen will not be able to win or draw matches for India as consistently and on different kinds of surfaces. Here’s a prediction to watch: This time, next year, India will not be the number 1 Test side in the world.

Manik: I have to agree with Hopping here. Once the Great Indian Middle Order is gone the replacements, though talented, will take time to settle in. Also, the bowling line up is not convincing enough. Team India will have to work very, very hard to keep the top spot.

 

Is India the weakest number 1 test side in the history of cricket?

Jatin: Not at all. The current team has a perfect blend of youth, experience, talent, hunger, strategy and team ability in all departments. It would be unfair to call it the weakest no. 1 team. If anything, this is one of the periods where we have more competition in terms of fairly comparable teams.

Hopping: Yes. The best way to judge if this is true or not is to compare the top sides of yesteryears with this Indian one. Clive Lloyd and Steve Waugh, both, led fantastic sides that would have beaten this team quite handily. Tell me, are there any other number 1 sides that we can think of which are weaker than this one?

Manik: Yes. A top test side ideally should have a settled line up and equally competent backup players. Look at this current India team, there is no fixed number six nor is the opening bowling pair settled. And the backup players are promising at best. I can’t seem to recall any other top team over time which had so many doubts around its composition.





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