If this England tour has taught us anything, it is that cricket is a fickle sport. On Tuesday, India won their first bilateral ODI series in England in 24 years and M.S. Dhoni became the most successful Indian captain in 50-over cricket. Shikhar Dhawan was twirling his moustache again, Virat Kohli was back to punching the air and Indian visitors were smiling once more. The defending World Cup champions were back to being favourites for the 2015 edition of the tournament. Only two weeks ago, the same team was in disarray, with a coach under pressure and a faltering captain under intense scrutiny after a disastrous run in the Test matches. Now, England is left brooding about whether its ODI team is even fit to compete in the format. The scenario in which the ODI series had begun is completely reversed.
When fortunes oscillate so many times in the space of a few weeks, a lot can go right or wrong in the six months leading to the World Cup in Australia and New Zealand. It would be premature to talk up India’s chances of defending the crown. Apart from a home assignment with the West Indies, India still have to face the challenge of a four-Test series in Australia, where their techniques and temperaments will be watched closely. That will be followed by a tri-series, where India will once again face England. Limited-overs glory cannot be used to paper over the cracks left by the Test debacle in England.
Many questions still remain unanswered in the run-up to World Cup 2015, from who will bat in the opening slot to the identity of the coach. So India’s jubilation at the ODI series triumph is justified. But going overboard with it is not.