''Team India for World Cup, still a distant reality''

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Undated (UNI) This is no Pommie-bashing really. If anything, there is some empathy for the very mediocre English tourists.

I am glad the torture is over for them and they can literally cool their heels before jumping into a fresh English summer.

The heat and dust of the sub-continent will take a long time settling down. Much was expected from the winners of the Ashes series. Sadly it all ended on a damp squib.

Five or six of their big guns returned home at the slightest pretext. Poor Andrew Flintoff was left to hold the fort without much dry ammunition. The 5-1 result could easily have been 7-0 had the weather not played truant at Guwahati.

To be fair to the depleted English team. I thought the tour itinerary left a lot to be desired. Criss-crossing the Indian continent can be exasperating but when the time frame is as little as it was, then, there is no playing the game.

Indians looked massively superior, which, to my mind was a bit of an illusion. The manner in which Flintoff's men folded in less than 50 overs on five given occasions was a poor professional commitment.

Now then, where does India stand after a ''hard fought'' series with South Africa, Sri Lanka, Pakistan and England? The figures would suggest India is on high. With younger crop of players making almost instant mark at international cricket, the bigger picture is almost too hard to believe. And yet the remarkable performances of Yuvraj Singh, Suresh Raina, Mahendra Singh Dhoni, S Sreesanth and Ramesh Powar cannot be brushed aside easily. Compare their successes with regular failures of established stars like Virender Sehwag, Mohammad Kaif, Gautam Gambhir and Ajit Agarkar. Also, the marked absence of Sachin Tendulkar due to injury must leave the Indian camp in some confusion. And in the case of two gentlemen, Rahul Dravid and Greg Chappell, their conscience might just hurt when some of the other parts feel pretty good.

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