(Last Updated on : 21/12/2010)
After having a tremendous series win against the Australians on their own soil, the Indian cricket team started to show their excellence and brilliance in the overseas soils as well and the team's wonderful performance in England and in World Cup were evident about this fact. India beat the formidable Australians by 2-1 in the year of 2001, and then went for a tour to England in 2002. The team showed a wonderful performance in the Test series against England in the tour, however, the most exciting performance of India came in the tri-nations one-day tournament, the Natwest series. India won the tournament after beating England in a tantalising final match at Lord's, thanks to some heroic performances from Yuvraj Singh and Mohammad Kaif.
The Saurav Ganguly-led India team was considered as one of the best teams in the world during the first half of the 2000s, with the great batsmen like Sachin Tendulkar, Saurav Ganguly, VVS Laxman, Rahul Dravid in the side. The bowling department of the team was also quite impressive with the likes of Anil Kumble, Harbhajan Singh, Zaheer Khan, Ashish Nehra and Laxmipathy Balaji. After winning the nail-biting Natwest series final, the Indian team continued their wonderful form in the World Cup, 2003 also and played extremely well throughout the tournament.
In the World Cup, 2003, the Indian team defeated most of their opponents with ease and though they got into a danger after losing a crucial match to Zimbabwe, they came back nicely to defeat England and enter into the super six stages. Ashish Nehra took a crucial role in the win of 'Team India' against England, as he took 6 important English wickets to provide his team the much-needed victory. Once India was into the super sixes, they became just unstoppable and entered into the final of the World Cup, by beating their archrivals, Pakistan en route to final.
However, the Indian team did not have the Champion's luck with them in the World Cup final and as most of the players in the team were young and inexperienced, they failed to give a good performance in the final. India lost to Australia in the final of World Cup, 2003, miserably. However, the performance of the Indian team started to decline after the World Cup final and it got into the worst point, when it departed from the World Cup, 2006, in the very first round. Though, the Indian team failed to do well in the two World Cups of 2003 and 2006, nobody would contradict with the fact that it was the extraordinary leadership of Saurav Ganguly that made the Indian cricket team a formidable one during the first half of the 2000s.