May 30, 2024

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India’s bench has unprecedented depth, courtesy IPL, domestic system

The tri-series in Australia was one of cricket’s yearly highlights before Twenty20 revolutionised the sport. Some of you may recall the Channel 9 commentary crew and the men in coloured apparel when ODI cricketers were still required to wear white.

Instead of having three teams, there were four in the 1994–1995 season. Australian team A was the fourth group. The other three were the main Australian team, England, and Zimbabwe. The two Australian teams competed in the best-of-three finals. Senior males triumphed 2-0.

If that seems terrifying, think about what has occurred in India over the past week. In an ODI series, India, a second-choice team, defeated South Africa, a first-choice side, 2-1.

That accomplishment is very amazing. India only lost once, by nine runs, and both of its victories came by seven wickets with plenty of extra overs.

For the first time in 1998, India fielded two teams for the first time for the Sahara Cup series against Pakistan in Toronto and the Commonwealth Games in Kuala Lumpur.

India was humiliated 1-4 by its bitter enemy, and Malaysia’s team was eliminated right after the group stage.

Of course, India’s bench has improved remarkably since then.

During India’s visit to Australia in 2020–2021, the world gained a good understanding of it.

India completed an incredible comeback to win the series 2-1 after being bowled out for 36 in the second innings and losing by eight wickets in the first Test at Adelaide.

T. Natarajan and Washington Sundar, who were both making their professional debuts, were instrumental in breaking Australia’s 32-year streak of undefeated play at the Gabba. The latter also contributed with a bat. It was impressive to accomplish that without Virat Kohli and Jasprit Bumrah.

The depth of Indian cricket is primarily due to the IPL. Another is the strong domestic system centred on the Ranji Trophy.

Keshav Maharaj of South Africa claimed that India has enough depth to field four or five teams.

That may seem like too much praise but bear in mind that neither of the Indian teams included players like Prithvi Shaw, Mayank Agarwal, or Umran Malik.