I have recently read a fair few articles along the same topic but hardly any rate India as serious contenders and claim the Indian team to be inconsistent, I will be the first one to admit that there have been many false dawns previously in Indian cricket but something tells me that this team is different.
Not going by history what i don't get is why people don't see India being consistent from here on end and stake a serious claim to be recognised as the best team in the world. The Indian team has played pretty well throughout 2008. Agreed we faltered somewhat in Sri Lanka but lets not take any credit away from them, they are a pretty hard team to beat on their own turf specially now that there is Murali and Mendis.
Heres why I believe India will be right at the very top of the rankings come end of 2009 as the Indian team has all the ingredients of a champion team:
A tough leader in the form of MS Dhoni he goes about his job in a very workman like manner and has a very cool head on his shoulders. He seems to be a a very good man manager and has the backing of the whole team and therefore extracts the very best out of every individual.
Experience in the form of Tendulkar, Sehwag, Laxman, Dravid, Zaheer, and Harbhajan almost all at the very peak of their games.
Youth in the form of Gambhir, Ishant Sharma, Amit Mishra, Yuvraj all young and eager to prove themselves.
A great bench strength something that the Indian team in the past has never had and therefore never been consistent. Even if we have someone going out of the team due to injury or loss of form or retirement there are people ready to take that spot.
Backing up in the bowling department are Munaf Patel, S. Sreesanth, M. Gony, L Balaji(yes hes back to his best in the domestic circuit), M. Karthik, R. Powar, and I am sure I am missing out on a few big names.
In the batting department we have a host of names waiting in the wings, S badrinath, M Vijay (looked solid in the game he played) Raina, Rohit Sharma, young prolific scorer in C. Pujara, not to mention the ever present M. Kaif and W. Jaffer pilling on runs in the domestic circuit always waiting to have a go and rectify their once blossoming careers.
In the wicketkeeping department too we have able backups in the form of Karthik and P.Patel both eager to get a game for India.
And is it just me or is Tendulkar getting harder to dismiss as he gets older. He has never looked more solid at the crease and hardly ever looks like getting out. I have never seen him bat so solidly before, yes he played more strokes before his injuries and has since cut down on his range somewhat but by doing so he seems to have taken out all the risks from his game while still scoring at almost the same rate as before.
He clearly still posesses the hunger for runs and wants to win matches for India. All the signs are there for this team to be world beaters.
I predict a battle for the number one test ranking to be between India and South Africa with Australia finally playing catch up after a good decade and a bit at the very top. Bring it on South Africa is what I say.
I am all ears if some one wants to tell me if south Africa are set up as well as this particular Indian team is.