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This Week Last Year: A cricket season that is best forgotten
Santhosh S - 15 June 2001

The 1999-2000, which finally came to an end in June 2000 was not a good one for Indian cricket. The season, which started in August with the AIWA Cup, was finally over with the Asia Cup in Bangladesh. There wasn't much to cheer about.

After quite an unsuccessful 1999 World Cup campaign in England, the losing blues were carried over to Sri Lanka. In a Triangular ODI series, which had Australia other than the host team, India failed to make it to the final. Invariably whenever the Indians have visited Sri Lanka in August-September, they have not done well. But that has not stopped the BCCI from repeatedly making the mistake of sending the squad there during this time.

Singapore was the next stop for the Indian team; they were to take part in the Coca Cola Challenge in September. Here too, three teams were in the fray, the others being West Indies and Zimbabwe. India lost to West Indies in the final, unable to stop Ricardo Powell who smashed his way to 124 off 93 balls.

India then proceeded to Nairobi to take part in the LG Cup in September-October. This time the competition was from Zimbabwe, South Africa and hosts Kenya. India flattered only to deceive, losing to South Africa in the final by 26 runs.

Now it was time for a contest at home. The opponents were New Zealand, fresh from their victory in England. The visitors landed for a short tour, consisting of three Tests and five One-Day internationals. India at last acquired the winning habit winning the Test series 1-0 and the ODI contest 3-2

India went to Australia in November and what followed is not worth writing about; surrendering meekly in the three Test series and then failing to make the cut in the ODI triangular which featured Australia and Pakistan.

A shell-shocked Indian team flew back home in February to take on the might of South Africa with the only consolation being the contest was at home. The two Test series was lost 2-0 and Indian cricket was in the depths of despair. Indians pulled off a surprise 3-2 victory in the One-Day series. Sachin Tendulkar, who had unwillingly taken over the leadership from Md Azharuddin in August, had enough of the losing business and handed over the reigns to Sourav Ganguly.

The losing ways did not stop with the change in captaincy; a disastrous tour of Sharjah in March in the Coca Cola Cup was to follow. India failed to make it to the final, which featured South Africa and Pakistan. The failure was repeated in the Asia Cup at Dhaka. The Indian team only had a victory over Bangladesh while losing to Sri Lanka and Pakistan.

Things have changed ever since. The Indians have regained their winning ways. A remarkable Test series win against Australia at home to add to the Test series win against Zimbabwe and the victory over Bangladesh in the one off Test in Dhaka. The whole Karma of Indian cricket has changed. John Wright the new Indian coach has been able to instill a sense of purpose and is yielding rich rewards. It will be a different story when the story of the 2000-2001 season is written.

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