Mumbai: When you succeed like the India one-day team has recently, comparison with the best is inevitable. In one-day cricket, the benchmark has been set by the West Indies of the 1970s and 80s and Australia of the new Millennium. For the Clive Lloyd-led and Steve Waugh-led sides, it was not just about winning, they simply annihilated opponents.
In this context, MS Dhoni's side has a long way to go. Experts, however, believe the future belongs to India. "The standard of world cricket has gone down, except in India," says Zaheer Abbas, who was known as the Asian Bradman for his prolific scoring ways. "They will definitely dominate the next few years."
"The current India team is riding high; they are the best side in the world. They have proved that with performance," says former Sri Lanka great Duleep Mendis, who mentored and captained players like Arjuna Ranatunga and Aravinda de Silva.
The question is whether India have it in them to take the next step and dominate in all conditions. "India have to learn to dominate like the West Indies did under Lloyd. The team can reach that position only after one or two years of domination," says Madan Lal, one of the heroes of the 1983 World Cup.
Analysing the team's strength and weaknesses, he says the spin combination of R Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja has provided the team the edge while feeling that there was scope of improvement in the middle order. "The spinners have been putting a lot of pressure in the middle overs and that has made a difference. You needed a bowling all-rounder and Jadeja has come up well, allowing the team to play the right combination of five bowlers. With a part-timer, there was always a risk that the bowler could go for runs, but with five frontline bowlers the situation can be handled.
"In the batting line-up, the top three are more or less settled, but our middle order needs to be stronger. Karthik and Raina have to take on more responsibility."
Both Madan Lal and Zaheer feel the pace department needs more ammo. "The pace department is a bit weak, but the batting of all the teams has fallen," says Zaheer.
"I would like Umesh to step up his game. He has to play more cricket, and needs to learn to control his out-swingers at will. We need him to be a frontline bowler. Bhuvneshwar has overtaken him as the spearhead," says Madan Lal. Talk about the benchmark, and the three look up to Lloyd's team. "The quality of their bowling and batting was much superior. They combined domination with results," says Mendis.
Published by HT Syndication with permission from Hindustan Times.
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