New Aussie side is not in the same league as its predecessors
The fighting win at Mohali, besides being one of the most memorable results in the annals of Indian cricket, also ensured that the team maintains its stranglehold over the Border-Gavaskar trophy.
India's No 1 Test ranking was never in danger in the ongoing series. What India risks losing more than the ranking is pride.
We, the Indians, are an emotional lot and as we get carried away in the euphoria that followed the win at Mohali, the fact that it was a last-ditch effort has been conveniently forgotten.
Considering this Australian side is "under construction" and certainly not in the league of its illustrious predecessors, India's scampering win suggests they are a long way off from becoming a dominant cricketing nation.
Image: Australian players react after losing the Mohali Test
Team India has been far more consistent on home soil
There's one factor in particular that may prove an impediment between the Indian team and their road to world domination: consistency.
When the team from Down Under topped the rankings, they did so by dominating their opponents -- both home and away. The other countries found it increasingly hard to beat Australia.
And each time Australia lost, no matter how sparingly it occurred, it made the headlines (more than their wins).
Team India's case is very different.
Ever since taking over as the top Test nation in December last year, the team has failed to assert its credentials. It's been more about hanging on to the rankings rather than consolidating it.
The weight of expectations has palpably been a deterrent but the fact that the team is yet to play outside the subcontinent has, somewhere down the line worked to its advantage.
To give credit where it is due, Team India have been far more consistent on home soil, in terms of results at least, if not performance. They have just lost one home series (against Australia in 2004) in the last decade.
Yet one point needs to be understood here. It's a fact that teams have found it tough to put together a series win in India. However, beating India in a Test has always been a possibility.
Image: Pragyan Ojha celebrates after winning the Mohali Test
Team India have always struggled abroad
It is also imperative here to point out that there have been instances where the visiting teams have expressed disappointment over the wickets in Tests following an Indian defeat -- the South African displeasure, both in 2008 and this year, being a case in point.
Whenever India has faced defeat at home, a win in the next Test is manufactured. Despite that India is prone to losses at home, indicating that the team is indefatigable but not unbeatable.
Now let's shift our focus to the Indian performances overseas. To say that the team has struggled abroad will be putting it kindly.
In fact, when India wins a Test away from home it makes for a front page headline, indicating how poor our away record has been over the years.
There have been some firsts in recent years (see below) as regards the Indian away performance. But it will take a long time -- and more consistency in terms of results -- before our away record improves, the tour to South Africa being India's next challenge overseas.
Image: MS Dhoni
Team India has never been a dominant side
And that brings us back to the point we made at the start. Bluntly put, Team India is not yet consistent as regards the results.
It never was.
And, therefore, it has always been a top team alright, but never been a dominant one. Considering the fact that cricket is played by only a handful of nations, and followed by an even fewer number, it is a shame.
For India to assert its authority in the sport, and to be recognized more for its achievement on the field vis-a-vis its financial clout, the team needs to win on a more consistent basis, especially away from home.
Image: Harbhajan Singh
India should stop worrying about rankings
And if such consistency is ever achieved, Team India can actually stop worrying about the rankings before the start of a series and concentrate instead on doing something that champion sides do best: win games.
India's recent achievements away from home
- A 1-0 Test series win over West Indies was India's first series win in the Caribbean since 1971.
- A win at the Wanderers (Johannesburg) Test in 2006 was India's first Test win in South Africa. They lost the series though 2-1.
- A 1-0 series win over England in August 2007 was India's first triumph on English soil since 1986.
- In January 2008, India beat Australia to win its first ever Test at the WACA (Perth).
- A win at Seddon Park last year ensured India pocketed the three match series 1-0; their first series win in New Zealand since 1967.
Image: MS Dhoni and Gary Kirsten