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What's in a win? by Srinivas Kanchibhotla
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April 9, 2009

What's in a win?

The question has been cropping up from time to time, and more often in the recent times, whenever India claimed a test or a series in its favor in distant lands where it never came close to smelling the sweet scent of victory before - is this the best lineup the country produced EVER? The question is both rhetorical and argumentative at the same time. While the members of the current setup remain absolutely certain, claiming that the records speak for themselves, the former greats dismiss the question as speculative. After all, does the tart taste of orange match up the saccharine quality of the apple? If records, numbers and statistics alone account for benchmarks, sure, the current lineup would have its day on the walk of fame, but what of the former teams which faced harsher conditions and fiercer bowling attacks? While the fact, that the quality of bowling, discounting India's, has come down quite a bit, is unequivocal and universally accepted, is it fair to hold it against the team that have won games and series fair and square, like, placing asterisks, creating annotations and writing footnotes after each win. "India wins...but...". Yes, India triumphed over West Indies after a prolonged wait of 30+ years; True, India bested England after 20+ years, though coming close a few times before, and the same goes with victories in Pakistan and the 'limited' successes in Sri Lanka. Accepted, that a generation, or even two, of Indian cricket has turned over without ever experiencing any of those victories in any of those countries, but would a win taste just as sweet against harried sides with depleted attacks? Like buyer's remorse, there would always be a winner's regret gnawing away in the back of the analytical side of the brain, pulling back the jubilant side of the mind just a tad, trying to put things in perspective. Do the bells of victory, though loud and clear, sound a bit hollow? If only these victories came against all those sides at their peak of their individual and collective prowess, when the question of being the best side ever is no longer just rhetorical, argumentative or even speculative, but in fact valid, required, and relevant.

That said, the series win in both the limited the regular versions of the game, coming on the heels of a parched 40 year spell, is no mean achievement in itself. As Donald Rumsfeld, the former US Secretary of Defense and one of the chief architects of the Iraq invasion, once quipped, "you don't go to the war with the army you want, but go with the unit you have", similarly, the quality of the opposition or conditions was never and can never be a matter of choice. That the New Zealand side lacked the bite both in batting and bowling, can only be treated as a matter of fact and not as matter of judgment. It was only coincidental that the meteoric rise of the Indian star power, particularly in the pace department, met with a collective fall in the standards of the same across the cricketing fraternity, with the sole exception of South Africa. If the converse of that statement, that the Indians lagged in pace all this long accounting for their dismal away record, was the gospel truth repeated over and over by all those losing Indian ex-captains, then it should be equally acceptable of the Indians to gloat over their victories, playing against depleted sides or not, without sounding or coming across as apologists. New Zealand, more than Australia, had always been the tougher nut to crack for India, which was quite evident in the previous tour to the place, played on surfaces that can termed suicidal, at best, with a team that was then considered as the best ever, in the run up to the World Cup. If anything, the current win should at least lay those ghosts of that nightmarish past to rest, locking up all the self-flagellating experiences and throwing away the key once and for all.

Pakistan, West Indies, England and now, New Zealand, down. Sri Lanka, South Africa and Australia to go (down). The climb to the top always makes an exciting watch. And once there, staying that's an entirely different ball game, as Australia would vouch for, which would make it an even more interesting watch. Good times are things of the past, better times and challenges lay ahead.

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Other cricket related articles by Srinivasa Kanchibhotla
The shining silver lining
Winds of change
Battle of the Bamboozler
Less is more
Hit and run
Tales from down under
The three sides of a coin
Blast from the past
The other side of a win
Finding Neverland
Hail The Weaklings
Bringing down the house
Every (under)dog had it's day!
Lord of the ring: Return of the King
Lord of the ring - the departed part - 2
Lord of the ring - the departed part - 1
Lord of the ring - twin towers

Game is on
What's in a number?
Roll out the carpet... the green variety that is
Garland the ground staff
How the west was won
A time for Reversal
The sands that blotted sweat and blood
Let the good times roll
The curse of success
It's Official....
Win some, some more
All is well
Expect the unexpected
From the Ashes, it rose!
It is progress ... DAMN IT!!!
Ghosts of Chinnaswamy
Congratulation Message to Indian Cricket Team
Resumption of ties
Rock, rock, rock it again!
Tour full of negatives

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