In a middle class area of Gujarat, a gentile cricket fan shakes his head.
As he enjoys his chai and a cigarette, the man struggles to comprehend what his eyes are telling him.
Earlier this week, he watched his beloved Indian Test team beat South Africa amongst a raft of pitch controversies and Amla road blocks.
This man’s mother country had gently taken the best team in the world, bent them over its knee and given it a long sustained rap across the buttocks with a rattan. It wasn’t an aggressive or angry belting. It was a sustained rhythmic beating that can only occur when the person holding the stick is in full control.
India was in full control.
India was now ranked number 2 in the world.
The Gujarati takes another sip of his spiced warm milk, takes a deep drag of a cigarette and contemplates.
For his country apparently doesn’t care much for Test cricket. His is a culture of T20, dancing girls, extravagant auctions and a hint of corruption. Well, he thought it was.
The ICC official rankings are telling him otherwise and this brings forth a feeling of uneasiness.
The Gujarati asks himself what has his country achieved to hold this status?
Under the watch of MS Dhoni, they had some successes, but they were veiled.
In 2013 they annihilated Australia. But it was at home. It’s always at home.
Australia were also on a path of self destruction, losing a coach, sending players back for not doing their homework and making questionable selection calls.
Under MS Dhoni, India won a remarkable Test at Lord’s. Not taking the new ball, yet still bouncing out the opposition. The wicket keeper standing back from the stumps to spinners to stop the byes.
But this was away, and when the whole story is told, India did what India always do.
They lost that away series in a pathetically feeble way.
Under MS Dhoni, Chennai Super Kings was first in his heart. Mr Srinivasan was first in his heart. Winning Test matches overseas was a distraction.
“But Virat Kohli is different”, the man thinks to himself as the cigarette he holds brings him an unexplained comfort.
His belligerent pair of centuries in Adelaide under extreme duress were a telling sign. Yet, the results were not coming.
The Australian series loss was India’s fourth series defeat on the trot. They were no different to Zimbabwe in that regard.
A planned tour to Bangladesh in the height of the monsoon season was predictably washed out. That’s now five Test series in a row without a win. No wonder this man’s country prefers Lalit Modi style cricket.
The Gujarati man looks down at the newspaper once again. In it appears the official ICC Test rankings table.
India is ranked second in the world.
“But how?” he asks himself?
Ah yes, we beat those pesky Lankans away. We were too busy celebrating Sangakkara’s retirement than the fact we won in a foreign land.
It was India’s first away series win since the West Indies in 2011. That would help in the rankings, but number 2?
Perhaps the South African victory is being underplayed? Doctored pitches. The series was at home. We always win at home.
But does a couple of series wins make us number 2 in the world after such a long drought?
The Gujarati man pours himself some more chai.
“Probably not”, he tells himself.
We can’t beat South Africa, England or Australia on their turf. But in recent times, only England have won on ours.
“We need a Test championship” he concludes.
“That would solve this mess.”
Reproduced at First Post