“Change can be very tough for any sports team, its all about the way you handle it.” Those were the wise words of Ravi Shashtri at the time Rahul Dravid and V.V.S Laxman retired. The last two years have seen India go through a massive change both on and off the pitch.
The selection committee has to be praised, they have realised mistakes of the past in keeping big names in the team despite poor form. Sehwag, Gambhir Yuvraj, Zaheer and Harbhajan have all felt the full force of this policy. New players have been a hit, the main two being Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Shikar Dhawan.
Apart from the series loss against England, India have been very dominant at home and very poor away from it. This massive change in form can only be explained by poor preparation in the run up to these tours. It seemed that India were packing in matches meaning that they could not fully concentrate on one series. For example during the period that the England team went home for Christmas, they played a ODI series against New Zealand.
There seems to have been a change in mentality for the upcoming tours of South Africa and England. India last played in June a tri-nations series against West Indies and Sri Lanka. The next year sees a comparably light year ahead with slightly more space between big games.
The fact that India finish the last test match against South Africa on the same day that they are scheduled to play a ODI match against New Zealand is slightly puzzling. This indicates that either India will be sending a team minus all their test players or this match is in doubt.
The gaps in the fixtures has allowed India to prepare fully for the upcoming year, with many India A games being played. Players such as Dhawan and Pujara were sent to experience South African conditions in the India A tour in July.
Others such as Sehwag, Gambhir, Yuvraj and Zaheer Khan have been picked for the A team for the upcoming A team series against West Indies. The squads that have been picked for India A seem to be either giving fringe players a chance to impress as well as a second chance to those who had been culled before.
Not only does this give team India the luxury of resting all the established stars, it allows for every person who is in and around the squad to be given a fair chance. I feel the current idea from the BCCI gives India a better chance to succeed in what will be one of the hardest years. It seems that if Dhoni succeeds in the tour of South Africa and/or England he will go down as the undoubted best captain in the history of modern cricket.