Hitting the Summit
If you're a cricket writer worth your salt, then by this time you would have written about Australia's loss of form, and also somewhere pondered about the impending competition between Indian and South African teams for the number 1 slot. There would be case studies on the different aspects - with some like Ian Chappell describing Indians as slightly ahead because of their balanced bowling attack vis-a-vis the South Africans as also the captain, Dhoni. There would also be some other chaps who would celebrate rise of South Africa more than India purely because it puts cricket's no1 somewhere in the "white" folds.
If India are to raise their game enough to be number 1 in all forms of the game, they should necessarily be as competitive as the Aussies were - against all teams. The Aussies didnt get to be number 1 by beating the top teams comprehensively and by just beating the lesser ones. The Aussies beat all comers (save India) rather comprehensively. Even if it was Bangladesh, they looked to beat them by an Innings and more in tests, and by hundred runs or more in ODIs - and they frequently did that.
It is this aspect that has to be embraced by any team which wants to be number 1.
Hence, for a team with a stated goal of wanting to be number 1 in Tests and ODIs - the shocking display of not declaring and going after England - on a 5th day with about 60 overs left is not on. The goal has to be always a Win - and when that looks impossible, a draw). A series win of 2-0 looks much better for a team than does a 1-0 - especially against an England team which they'd whitewashed in ODIs.
M S Dhoni missed more than a trick when he said he wanted the Yuvi and Gambhir to get to their centuries. In similar circumstances in Sydney, Ricky Ponting put India in, to play out 72 overs - and aided by some gobsmacking umpiring mistakes, and appeals that bordered on the wrong side of cheating - they did show India up.
It is unfathomable how an England team which got the best of conditions to bat on, and could only muster up 320 or so, can achieve a similar score in the last innings of a Test, with the pressure of losing the game, and perhaps in fading light - at a higher ask.
When commentators speak about Cricket being a mental game, it is to this that they refer. Cricket's a game of confidence - something that stares you in the face, when you look into the Aussie era of the last decade or so - wins from positions where others would cave-in, in fact some of them wins just because Aussies believed in Winning longer than anyone else, epitomising what Alec Baldwin says in Pearl Harbor "Victory belongs to those that believe in it the most and believe in it the longest. We're going to believe"