What prompted Mahendra Singh Dhoni to bowl a few overs in Thursday’s semi- final against Sri Lanka? Was there a hint of arrogance or a touch of farce in his decision? Dhoni does fancy his bowling. At nets, he usually warms up with a longish spell before picking up the for a knock.
Had the leg-before decision against Mahela Jayawardene not been overturned on review, he would have been hailed as a genius one more time! From a purely cricketing perspective, all he did was pitch seam up at gentle medium-pace and get some movement off a helpful pitch. An unknown bowler at this pace can befuddle the best, which is what happened to Jayawardene.
Essentially though, Dhoni was playing a bluff which almost paid off. But the Indian captain would know that what could work against a Sri Lankan side that looked defeated when it took the field in Cardiff would carry no credence against England.
Dhoni is wary of England
Trott hopes for final boost
India thump Lanka to enter final
Inspired England choke South Africa
There can be no argument that the two best teams will meet in Sunday’s final.
England recovered strongly to reach the last four despite a walloping from Sri Lanka in the league stage. Preceding this tournament, they had lost 1-2 to New Zealand in an ODI series and were not fancied to reach this far despite home advantage etc. But solid, consistent performances have seen them through.
India, in contrast, have stormed into the finals. After two daunting warm-up games — when it seemed that the players were feeling the pressure of the spot-fixing controversy back home — the team has made short shrift of all opponents. South Africa were tamed easily, the West Indies, Pakistan and Sri Lanka simply blown away.
So emphatic have been the wins in fact that raising the question whether this is the best Indian one-day team ever is a serious one. The performances have been power-laden, more so because they have come not in the sub-continent, but in conditions where they usually flounder. However, Dhoni’s team will have to win on Sunday to validate this argument.
The single biggest factor in India’s surge has been the dramatic improvement in the fielding. Who would have thought that an Indian team would be regarded as the best in fielding in a tournament involving South Africa, New Zealand and England? Then again, when you look back at the major triumphs in Indian cricket — the 1983 World Cup, 1985 World Championships, 2007 World T20 — fielding has always been the decisive factor.
(The writer is a seasoned journalist)
Reproduced from Mail Today. Copyright 2013. MTNPL. All rights reserved.
Current side could be India’s best in ODIs
India's performances in the Champions Trophy have been power-laden, more so because they have come in conditions where they usually flounder.By Ayaz Memon | Mail Today – Sat 22 Jun, 2013 9:33 AM IST
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