Indian cricket was in tricky waters when it entered the 21st century. The country had lost faith in the team post the match-fixing saga while the team itself was not a champion side either. India was always known for its soft behavior on the field. Their body language was an immediate giveaway that they aren’t looking to dominate. But thanks to Sourav Ganguly’s leadership India was finally able to express itself better. But we were still far away from being a rock-solid side.
What started the change in approach?
While Ganguly taught us how to win matches abroad and Rahul Dravid continued the good work, India still struggled to be a top side across both formats consistently. Other teams were aware that Indian teams can not perform well under pressure. And all this was down to our sedate body language. Indians sure had characters like Sreesanth who would get under the skin of the opposition but often all that energy would go down the drain without any real purpose.
Indian cricket finally found that purpose when India went on to win the inaugural T20 World Cup in 2007. Under the leadership of first-time captain, Mahendra Singh Dhoni, India made history. This victory laid seeds for the child called the “Indian Premier League” (IPL). The first season of IPL was held in 2008 and Indian cricket was never the same.
How IPL helped set new standards?
The whole idea behind IPL was to promote talent. It became a platform where a 19-year-old youngster like Virat Kohli could rub shoulders with a cricket veteran, Rahul Dravid while playing for the same team Royal Challengers Bangalore. It helped newcomers to absorb pressure and understand what it takes to play in front of packed crowds. The fielding standards went on to some another level. Indian fielders started taking fitness more seriously.
All these factors contributed to Indian cricket’s growth. Players were no longer overawed by oppositions. They started showing the world that they are as good as anyone and they fear no one. Playing in high-pressure IPL games helped Indian players to ace big match situations.
The aggressive and risk-based approach of IPL is reflected in India’s game even in Test matches. As the Indian team started playing more for victories rather than looking out for draws. Especially under the captaincy of Virat Kohli, this Indian team wears its attitude on the sleeves. And more often than not ends up on the right side of the match. But does all this with style, swagger, and substance. If this team looks back and pins down what was that one defining factor, then the answer is quite clear. It was the IPL!