In January 1984 at the end of the fifth and final Test between Australia and Pakistan at Sydney Greg Chappell, Dennis Lillee and Rod Marsh announced their retirement from international cricket. The adverse impact on the Australian team was immediate and severe. To lose three legends simultaneously was a triple blow that took a long time to recover from. The Australian team went from one disaster to another losing matches both at home and away until things finally started turning around towards the end of the decade with the emphatic Ashes triumph in England in 1989.

It is never easy to find replacements for legendary players. Just ask the West Indians. The sorry state of affairs in Caribbean cricket can be traced back to when members of the all- conquering side of the 80s and early 90s retired from the game one by one. Despite the brave efforts of Brian Lara and Shivnarine Chanderpaul, Curtley Ambrose and Courtney Walsh the slide could not be arrested and when the quartet called it quits the fortunes of the West Indies slid to an abysmal level in the new millennium.

Right now the Sri Lankans are in a similar situation. Over the last few years they have lost the services of Muthiah Muralitharan, Kumar Sangakarra, Mahela Jayawardene and Tillekeratne Dilshan and with the replacements not up to the mark the team is going from one debacle to another the latest being the clean sweep in the three Test series against India. Indeed it could have been three innings victories in a row but for Virat Kohli’s erroneous decision not to enforce the follow on in the first Test.

I recall that the mood in this country was one of apprehension towards the end of the first decade in the new millennium when it was clear that the legends of Indian cricket would not last much longer. The feats of the ''Fab Four’’ of Sachin Tendulkar, Rahul Dravid, VVS Laxman and Sourav Ganguly allied to those of Virender Sehwag, Gautam Gambhir, Anil Kumble and Harbhajan Singh had resulted in 2001 – 2011 being the greatest decade in Indian cricket. However one by one all of them had to inevitably quit international cricket and fears were openly expressed as to how the rebuilding of the team would evolve and how many defeats they would have to endure before it wore a well settled look again.

Astonishingly no such thing has happened. The scenario is very different to the one that was feared with the Indian team taking hardly any time to rebuild. Within a very short while the Indian team saw itself perched comfortably on top of the ICC Test rankings with the promise that they would stay there much longer than when they occupied the exalted status for the first time from 2009 – 2011.

Very simply this is because a rebuilding process was put in place even as the stalwarts were getting ready to bow out. The result? The new players turned out to be adequate replacements. Put down the illustrious names who scripted the greatest decade in Indian cricket alongside members of the squad on duty right now and the present lot do not pale by comparison Shikar Dhawan, Murali Vijay and Lokesh Rahul at the top of the order followed by Cheteswar Pujara, Virat Kohli, Ajinkya Rahane and Rohit Sharma in the middle order brings out not only the excellence of the batting skills but also the reserve strength.

Ravi Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja have the credentials to fit in the shoes of their illustrious predecessors even as they are much more successful with the bat while the trio of Mohammed Shami, Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Umesh Yadav are no way less a ferocious force than the likes of Zaheer Khan, Javagal Srinath and Irfan Pathan.

While it would be difficult for any wicket keeper batsman to step into MS Dhoni’s shoes it must be said that Wriddhiman Saha has acquitted himself creditably in both roles and is getting better with experience. So viewed from any angle it can be seen that the present squad has earned its stripes on merit and the record over the last couple of years drives home this point.

The detractors might say that the victories have come mainly at home or against weak opposition like West Indies and Sri Lanka. But I have to point out in this regard that during their tough times Australia and West Indies could not even win at home or against opposition perceived as weak.

No, there is something positive about the manner in which this Indian squad is performing which raises genuine hopes that they will do well even in away games. For me away from the batting and bowling it is the emergence of two genuine all rounders in Ashwin and Jadeja that gives the present squad the complete look. However great the team of 2001 – 2011 was it was generally made up of six batsmen and four bowlers.

The presence of an all rounder – so very important in any team - was sadly lacking except for a brief period when Pathan displayed his ubiquitous qualities. Ashwin and Jadeja lend the team the perfect balance and there is little doubt in my mind that it is their deeds with bat and ball in the middle order that have proved to be the decisive factor as to why the team is doing so well and why it will continue to perform admirably in future too.