CHURUMURI POLL: Can Dhoni & Co beat SA?

The smiles are back on the faces of Indian cricketers, if not cricket fans. After a 0-4 drubbing against England in England and a 0-4 defeat at the hands of Australia in Australia, followed by a series loss to England at home, Mahendra Singh Dhoni and his boys have finally sealed a 3-0 series win against Australia at home, with one Test still to come.

Minus Rahul Dravid, V.V.S. Laxman and Virender Sehwag, the young guns (from Murali Vijay to Shikhar Dhawan to Cheteshwar Pujara to Virat Kohli) have scored runs by the bucket. Suddenly Ravichandran Ashwin is taking wickets and Ravindra Jadeja is being spoken of as a match-winner.

No cricket victory is to be scoffed at, although critics will point at the advantage of home conditions, turning tracks, an inexperienced opposition, dissent in the ranks, etc. But there is such a thing as a reality check, too. So, the question is: is this just a chimera or could Dhoni & Co come up trumps against South Africa later this year?

Can the young batsmen stand up to the searing pace of Dale Steyn, Mornie Morkel and Vernon Philander? Will the bowlers run through a batting order that comprises Graeme Smith, Hashim Amla, A.B. de Villiers, Faf du Plesis? Or is winning at home enough?