Fear of losing in South Africa later shouldnt tone down the optimism after beating Australia
Before the India-Australia series began last month,Michael Clarke vs Ravindra Jadeja wasnt the kind of face-off that marketing men would put on television teasers. With one triple hundred,three double tons and a batting average of 198 in 2012,the Australian captain seemed perfectly placed to see his team through a tough transitional phase. Jadeja,with three wickets from the only Test he had played,wasnt even seen as a potential Test regular,never mind someone who would make Indias generational shift smooth. Its been a month since then and there has been a reputation update. The reason: Jadeja has dismissed Clarke five times and this has played a big role in India leading 3-0 after the Mohali triumph,and being just a win away from an unprecedented whitewash over the once mighty Aussies.
Before landing in India,Australia,under their in-form leader,seemed to be coming to terms with the high-profile retirements of stalwarts like Ricky Ponting and Michael Hussey. Now India,with M.S. Dhoni at the helm,looks a team that has got over some big-draw departures. Last year,Cheteshwar Pujara and Virat Kohli emerged as Team Indias reliable No 3 and No 5. Now,the spots surrounding them in the batting line-up have further solidified. Murali Vijay and Shikhar Dhawan,after their 289-run stand,have shown they can fill the void at the top of the order while Jadeja at No 7 also seems a permanent fixture for now. Suddenly,the cloud of ambiguity around Indias playing XI has thinned.
So has India passed that much-talked-about quicksand-like transition phase? Wait till they go to South Africa,the cautious and cynical will answer. But the fear of losing in the land of spicy pitches and menacing pacers shouldnt come in the way of celebrating a heart-warming turnaround.