Since the time India cricket was still in its infancy the team used to be ruled by batsmen. If it was Lala Amarnath in the earliest period then it was C. K. Nayadu after him followed by a procession of great batsmen who held the team together in different eras in the history of Indian cricket.
Along the way these batsmen were considered the best in the world in their time and some of them are considered the greatest ever as well like Sunil Gavaskar, Mohammad Azharuddin, Rahul Dravid, V.V.S. Laxman, Gundappa Vishwanath, Virender Sehwag and the greatest of them all Sachin Tendulkar. Now it is a well known fact that India never had a very devastating bowling attack and depended more on their batting to win Test matches rather than the other way round. As a matter of fact India went to the top of the World Test rankings and stayed there primarily due to the godsend batting talent that they had in their ranks. Never in the history of cricket was there a team that climbed to the pinnacle of the world game with their strengths heavily lopsided in favour of their batting.
The Departures and the Fears In Indian Cricket
The dominance of Indian batsmen continued for a long time and more so during the 2000s when they bullied every bowling attack in the world to submission but the first chinks started to show when that same set of batsmen started floundering on the tour to England in 2011, where India lost 4-0 without putting up much of a fight. It was a combination of lack of form and also a very fair observation that the stalwarts like Dravid, Laxman, Sehwag and Tendulkar were getting on in years. Although the English debacle was brushed aside as an aberration the tour to Australia in the same year reinforced the fact that Indian batting might was on a downward spiral as the team lost 4-0 yet again Down Under.
These debacles necessitated a massive retirement spree that affected the very soul of Indian batting and the first one to retire was the ‘Wall’ himself Rahul Dravid followed by the mainstay of the middle order Rahul Dravid. The retirement of Sachin Tendulkar from ODIs earlier this year was perhaps the final straw that made people believe in the unthinkable that Indian batting was going to go through a poor phase of trial and error for the next few years.
Although the fears were genuine and it is quite impossible to replace more than 50000 international runs in a batting line up all of a sudden it can be said with a degree of authority that the Indian batting dynasty looks to be in safe hands considering the new talent that has been on show. The heartening thing is that someone like Shikhar Dhawan who set the world alight with his dazzling stroke play in both Tests and ODIs is not exactly a youngster but someone who has come up through the ranks. This means that he is someone with a wise head and someone who would be an excellent servant of Indian cricket in the years to come. Then there is Virat Kohli and Rohit Sharma and the former has already stamped his authority as the current batting star while the latter has resurrected his career in the ODIs by opening the batting along with Shikhar Dhawan. In the years to come Indian batting will be in the hands of these three players with players like Suresh Raina and Murali Vijay playing the not so insignificant supporting cast. You would be right in pointing out that the tour to South Africa in 2013 winter would be the real acid test but I do not believe that this batting line up will crumble like the line up that crumbled in England and Australia in 2011.
Time for some optimism, after all!
Image Source: IANS