Blue is better

The 4-1 verdict in favour of India against Pakistan in the just concluded one day series seems to have washed out the bad memories of the Test series loss earlier

Ashish Shukla Delhi
It is easy to outline the reasons for India's revival against Pakistan in the recently concluded one-day series. Individuals caught eye and the visitors were brilliant in the field. But if one individual deserves more accolades than others, it has to be Yuvraj Singh. His batting display came close to resembling a modern day genius because of his unerring and unnerving ability — which reminds one of Sir Donald Bradman — to manhandle attacks and make bowlers look like pop gun shots. The mantle of vice-captaincy thrust on him in the absence of Sehwag seems to have added greater responsibility in his stride. How else does one explain his repeated sticking till the end and finishing the game for the country? Yuvraj has definitely justified the faith reposed in him by the team.

Captain Rahul Dravid is all praise for Yuvraj. "I feel this looks to be the turning point in his career. He has shown a lot of maturity in the last few months and looks like a different kind of player now", remarked Dravid. "When he burst on to the international stage, we always knew looking at him that he was a special talent. The way he got those early runs against Australia in Nairobi was phenomenal. In the last five years, he has taken big strides in his career and would serve Indian cricket for years to come," believes the captain.

Yuvraj is menacingly destructive, often able to score over 10 an over and puts the bowlers under severe pressure until they crack. His ability to hit boundaries as though the ground is only the size of a tennis court is amazing. The Punjab batsman scored a century in the Test series, and then continued his fine form in the one-dayers in which he ended up with the highest runs on either side — 344 at a staggering average of 172 with one century and two half-centuries. Dravid feels the regular breaks to Yuvraj in both Tests and one-dayers have done a word of good to his confidence. Whatever the reason, the gain is Indian cricket's.

For Yuvraj to actually emerge as the best in a team bursting with talent is a tribute to his dominance. Yet one can't help but marvel at the contributions of Rahul Dravid and Sachin Tendulkar; Mahinder Singh Dhoni and Irfan Pathan. Mention should also be made of the fresh talents of RP Singh, Shreesanth and Suresh Raina, who brought a vigour of youth to the side.

Former England captain Nasser Hussain, for one, can't help but offer platitudes to the talent of Dhoni. "He is a different kind of talent to Yuvraj. While the latter is a touch player, Dhoni is all power. He is such a powerful hitter of a cricket ball that it's difficult to bowl to him in the conditions of the sub-continent." Imran Khan too
rates Dhoni as a special talent for "not only is he a strong driver of the ball, he is also a quality cutter and puller."

To the tangible, obvious gains of the Indian team are also added some intangibles of strategy, freshness and leadership. Rahul Dravid was brilliant as a captain. He led the way right from the word go when he chose to open the innings in the first Test in Lahore. "Your team starts to respect you when they see the leader take on the challenges. Dravid wasn't an opener yet he decided to take on Shoaib Akhtar who was simply magnificent in the preceding series against England," says  Hussain.

For Dravid, the essence of India's supremacy over Pakistan was the way his side outbowled the home side. "These are not easy conditions but our bowlers did not give up and fought really hard. Even in the final game, Pakistan had a good start and at one stage we could have been easily chasing a target of 315-20. But our boys bowled well and we were simply brilliant in the field". Hope the run chase continues ….