You know how some cricketers just give you the "feeling"? That they have "it" -- that indefinable quality, that grit and substance, if you like, to make the best of their abilities; to make the grade where others won't, especially in the fire and brimstone of Test cricket?
Among current Indian cricketers, I've always had that feeling about Sachin Tendulkar, Saurav Ganguly, Rahul Dravid, Anil Kumble. Not much more you can say about those guys. Of the younger players, I think MS Dhoni and RP Singh have it; Murali Kartik, Dinesh Karthik and Wasim Jaffer too, to lesser extents.
I've been badly off the mark too: I never had the feeling about VVS Laxman, and was thrilled to be proved wrong when he smashed that wondrous 281 and scaled peak after peak after that. I never had it about Virender Sehwag. Then several of his own wondrous performances persuaded me I was wrong about him too -- until his performances went downhill a couple of years ago. I still don't believe he has it in him to turn that around, though like with Laxman I would be thrilled to be proved wrong. And I never had it about such players as Harbhajan Singh and Yuvraj Singh.
Little has changed after I followed the first Test against Australia. Six months and a handful of Tests ago, Dinesh Karthik and Wasim Jaffer were our settled opening pair, with Karthik arguably our best batsman in England. A few failures, and he is a sub, primarily to make a spot available for Yuvraj Singh. OK, Yuvraj had a century against a weak Pakistan attack. If it's a straight swap for Karthik, and more importantly, if you want him to prove his mettle, why not make Yuvraj open? No, the opener's job is given to Rahul Dravid, a man already struggling with form and questions and being dropped from the one-day team, not forgetting what captaincy seemed to have done to him. Our best Test batsman of the decade -- hell, one of the two or three best Test batsmen in the world -- and it's him we push around.
Every Indian cricket fan has opinions, and I'm no different. Over the last few years is about the first sustained time ever that I've felt an Indian team is playing like a team, playing to win. That's nice to see. I still don't think it is as good a team as Australia has, so losing to that country doesn't bother me that much. What does bother me is that it wasn't a hard fought match. What bothers me is that I don't see enough people in the team that give me that "feeling".
Ideally, there should be eleven.