The youngsters took their chances and proved their worth for the One-Day home series against England

It was payback time for Team India as it roundly thrashed England 5-0 in what was billed as a ‘Revenge Series'. With a ‘Brown-wash' of England in the Airtel One-Day International Series at home, India buried the ghost of a humiliating defeat that it suffered in England just a month ago.

To bill the One-Day Series between England and India as a revenge encounter would be a misnomer, and skipper M.S. Dhoni himself dismissed it. “Revenge is too strong a word. In sport, there is no revenge,” said an elated Dhoni, who emerged as ‘The Man of the Series' with a string of unbeaten knocks, which also re-established his credentials as the best One-Day cricketer in the world.

If Dhoni is busy relishing the success, he has every right to. At the start of the series, India was rated as the underdog not only because the team lost both the Test and One-Day series in England, but also because the squad lacked the firepower owing to the absence of injured stars like Sachin Tendulkar, Yuvraj Singh, Virender Sehwag, Zaheer Khan and Ishant Sharma.

Yes, the return of Gautam Gambhir did bolster the team, but on paper, the group looked below par. The Indian selectors, while retaining the young openers — Ajinkya Rahane and Parthiv Patel — after their good showing in the ODI series in England, blooded four youngsters — pacers S. Arvind, Varun Aaron, Umesh Yadav and spinner Rahul Sharma. The new-look attack also had R. Ashwin, who became the lead spinner in the absence of Harbhajan Singh, who was dropped.

Standout fielding

But the youngsters made the most of their chances and proved their worth in full measure to the delight of Dhoni and Indian fans. An endearing aspect of the young Indian bunch was their electrifying fielding. It will be tough for the selectors to ignore the rightful claims of players like Rahane and Ravindra Jadeja.

The verdict was not surprising if one goes by England's record in India in recent times. The team came without their bowling spearheads James Anderson and Stuart Broad and its relatively inexperienced bunch were bereft of ideas on the slow tracks of the subcontinent. To compound its misery, the England batsmen failed to put up big scores. Even their 298 at Mohali was easily hunted down by an inspired India. For skipper Alastair Cook, the only thing that he won in the series was the toss!

Teams winning in their backyard as England did in England and India in India, underlines the home-advantage factor and one need not read too much about a great Indian revival. India needs to maintain the same motivation to win overseas and to achieve that, a lot depends on the young brigade.

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Match PointJanuary 13, 2011

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