Whether we realized it or not, Indian cricket entered its golden era in 2007 and just as all good things cannot last and have to come to an end maybe that too has passed. This era was built from the ashes of the 2007 ODI World Cup loss and India rose like a phoenix.
One by one India ticked all the boxes of achievements and did a combination of things which all the other countries are yet to do.
First the big ticket tournaments. Currently the ICC has three global tournaments: The ODI World Cup, the T20 World Cup and the ICC Champions Trophy. From 2007-13, India won all three of them.
West Indies achieved this hat-trick counting from way back in the 1970s to the 2010 T20 World Cup. Sri Lanka did it from 1996-2014.
MS Dhoni is the only man in the world to have been part of the victorious finals of an ODI WC, T20 WC and an ICC Champions Trophy. Surely that is something to savour.
We also recaptured the Asia Cup after 15 years during this period. And it’s not just tournaments. We let go off a lot of other bogeys too. We had never beaten South Africa in an ODI series outside India and we finally did that in Ireland.
We had never won a triangular series on Australian soil and we did that in 2008. In 2009 we won our first ever ODI series on New Zealand soil. We also won ODI series in England and the West Indies.
In that period we have won 7 ODI tournaments/series on Sri Lankan soil. You can also not take home performances for granted. In the last 13 straight ODI series/tournaments at home, we have lost only once.
When it comes to the ICC rankings, we have ticked all the boxes there too. India became the first team to achieve the No. 1 rankings in all three formats of the game: Tests, ODIs and T20s.
While we have been absolutely brilliant in the shorter formats of the game, even our overall Test status has not been that bad. We won after first series in England after 21 years in 2007. We won our first series in New Zealand in 2009 after 41 years.
We won our third Test series on West Indies soil. We had our only drawn Test series on South African soil in 2010. While the shorter formats era just ended, in Tests you could say the decline started in 2011.
But that was only in overseas Tests. At home we have just one Test series loss during this period and that too by 1-2. During this period, we have won 10 home Test series. Again, you simply cannot take home wins for granted.
Interestingly despite the overseas debacle, we still managed to have a first 4-0 Test whitewash at home and that too against a strong team like Australia.
We even created the IPL during this period and that became cricket’s No. 1 domestic tournament in the world. However with our golden era coming to an end, the IPL era also seems to be crashing. TRP ratings are down and scandals have totally submerged cricketing action.
So it was great while it lasted. The shorter formats decline probably started in the final of the T20 World Cup in 2014 when Dhoni finally lost his Midas touch and that was repeated in the 2015 ODI World Cup semi-final.
India’s last such golden age was probably when they were World Champions from 1983-87 when we could do no wrong. After winning the ODI World Cup in England, we also won the mini World Cup in Australia, the Asia Cup and tournaments in Sharjah.
In between they also managed a rare 2-0 Test series win on England soil.
So what next for Team India? The Dhoni era has already ended in Tests and it remains to be seen if Virat Kohli can take us out of our current Test depths to greater peaks. He has it within him.
Dhoni probably has a couple of years of ODI/T20 leadership within him and it remains to be seen whether he goes into a slow decline or goes out with a bang. The author is a Bengaluru-based journalist and blogger.
He blogs at http://www.sunilrajguru.com/