Between 2001 and 2011, the Indian team achieved its highest peaks. Earlier this year, Sachin Tendulkar listed for The Indian Express the 10 things that changed in those 10 years.
It was the year 2001 when we really picked up as a team. We took on the Australians at home and beat them. That series and the memorable Kolkata Test were the turning points for Indian cricket. Since then, year by year, we only improved — sometimes gradually and at other times in every series. By the time the 2003 World Cup came around, we were consistently producing top-notch performances. It was an incredible decade, with our great Test wins and the two World titles being the high point for me.
Chasing and winning away
The secret behind performing away from home, where we hadn’t done too well leading up to the 2000s, was simple — we started to score more runs with the bat. With enough runs on the board, our chances of winning improved dramatically. It put an end to an era where the team banked on a few players to deliver the goods. As a team, we had struggled to post more than 240 runs at a go when playing abroad, and it is impossible to win matches with those low scores. But post 2001, that changed for good. We started to score totals of 400 and more regularly. So I believe that in this case, statistics do show the full picture. We managed to score more runs and got the results we were looking for.
Small town revolution
Nothing else describes India’s sheer passion for cricket like the rise of international stars from the smaller towns. I highly doubt if the likes of Mahendra Singh Dhoni or any other cricketer from the rural parts of India had the privilege of practising in renowned academies or training centres. But where they lacked facilities, they made up with hard work and passion. They may not have had advanced training sessions in high-tech centres, but their desire to play for India made them who they are today. Over the last decade, the BCCI has done an incredible job of not ignoring talent from these smaller towns.
Rebooting the system
For a very long while, it was difficult for a player to break into the Indian team. It had a settled look about it, with Rahul, Laxman, Ganguly and me filling up the top and