Talismanic Team India

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Champions Trophy 2013 celebration

It doesn’t get more dramatic than this. India overcame both rain and England to fashion a memorable last-ball victory and claim the ODI Champion’s Trophy on Sunday.

England needed a six off the last ball to win the match; it couldn’t get any, thus handing India a five-run victory. India scored 129 for 7 in the truncated 20 overs game. In reply England could muster only 124 for 8.

With this well-deserved triumph, captain M S Dhoni has the distinction of winning all three major championship trophies in cricket; the T20 World Cup in 2007 and the ODI World Cup in 2011 being the other two.

This was a team triumph but the hero of the day was the talismanic Ravindra Jadeja who glittered with both bat and ball. He smashed 33 off 25 balls and took two for 24.

From the moment, England captain Alistair Cook opted to field, everything seem to go against India. Like a perfect outswinger, the weather kept teasing everybody all through the day. At one point, a 24-over game looked like a possibility. Then it became a 20 over game.

Troubled by regular interruptions, Indian batsmen lost the plot for the first time in the championship. Opener Rohit Sharma had a lucky escape but failed to capitalise on the chance. He was bowled for 9 by Chris Broad playing an extravagant shot when the bowling was doing something both in the air and off the pitch. The game stopped after 5.4 overs with India at 28 for one. When it resumed a few minutes later, Shikhar Dhawan smacked Broad for an upper cut six. These days the Delhi left-hander’s batting can light up a stadium. But the game was stopped after four balls again with the score at 38 for one after 6.2 overs. This was the first time when India was at the receiving end of the rain.

When the game resumed after another 40 minutes, Shikhar was fooled by a slower delivery by Ravi Bopara. He again looked in terrific nick scoring 31 off 24 balls. This exposed the middle order whose vulnerabilities had been covered up by the success of the top order so far.

Karthick, Raina, Dhoni – all perished cheaply. It was left to Virat Kohli (43 off 34) and Jadeja (33 off 24) to take India to 129 and give the bowlers a fighting chance.

But India fought like wounded tigers. For the first time in the tournament, Bhuvaneshwar was a little erratic. But the spinners, especially Ashwin, spun the ball like it was a fifth day pitch in a Test match. The roll of the dice went India’s way for the first time when Ian Bell was given out stumped by the third umpire. It is a mystery how he gave that decision. At one point, England was reeling at 46 for 4.

Then Bopara and Morgan 64 runs for the fifth wicket. But a dramatic over by Ishant Sharma who dismissed both off successive balls put India back in the driver’s seat. In the end, India held its nerve; England choked under pressure.

With the exception of the 1985 win – remember Ravi Shastri winning the champion of champions prize – India has never won an ODI tournament more comprehensively and with more conviction. No team even came remotely close to challenging India.

Statistics reveal the extent of India’s dominance. Against West Indies, Pakistan and Sri Lanka, India won by a staggering eight wickets with plenty of balls to spare. They were almost boringly one-sided contests. On paper, South Africa lost by a mere 26 runs. But remember they were left to score 75 runs in 43 balls when they had lost their ninth wicket. For all the slogging by Ryan Mclaren, the result was never in doubt.

A round of special applause then for Dhoni and his Men in Blue. The win is special because it comes at a time when Indian cricket is still under a cloud of suspicion due to the betting and spot-fixing scandal. I am using the word “is”, and not “was”, because the investigations are still on. The captain himself is at the centre of “a conflict of interest” controversy. It remains to be seen how the BCCI tackles the issue.

The Champions Trophy again underlined Dhoni’s unique ability to focus on the job at hand and forget everything else. The Indian captain surely knows how to prioritise issues and deal with them accordingly. That’s a very, very special quality which only the best of leaders have.

Two things really make you feel proud about this ODI team.

First, this is perhaps the best all-round fielding unit that India has ever put together. Barrin Sharma-ji, a genuine laggard, there is nobody else who reminds you of the bad old 1990s. Of course, Ashwin too is sub par in the outfield but the other day he took a very smart catch of Gayle in the slips. Even today he took Cook’s stunning catch.

Second, the team’s running between the wickets is at par with the best in the world. This is really a modern team. And Dhoni should be given a lot of credit for that because he leads by example.

It doesn’t get more dramatic than this. India overcame both rain and England to fashion a memorable last-ball victory and claim the ODI Champion’s Trophy on Sunday.

England needed a six off the last ball to win the match; it couldn’t get any, thus handing India a five-run victory. India scored 129 for 7 in the truncated 20 overs game. In reply England could muster only 124 for 8.

With this well-deserved triumph, captain M S Dhoni has the distinction of winning all three major championship trophies in cricket; the T20 World Cup in 2007 and the ODI World Cup in 2011 being the other two.

This was a team triumph but the hero of the day was the talismanic Ravindra Jadeja who glittered with both bat and ball. He smashed 33 off 25 balls and took two for 24.

For India, Shikhar Dhawan played the role of enforcer throughout the championship. There is a bit of a buccaneer in his shot-making. He is oozing confidence at the moment evident in the way he dances down the track against pacers.

India has found a true champion in Bhuvaneshwar Yadav. He is rapidly emerging as a master of swing in all conditions. No Indian bowler has displayed such immaculate control over line and length so early in his career. In recent months, he has also bowled with added pace which makes him all the more effective. Thanks to him, none of the four teams could strike a first wicket partnership beyond 25.

For me, India’s man of the tournament is Ravindra Jadeja. Ever since he got Michael Clarke’s number in the Test series against Australia, Jadeja too is a changed player. And in this tournament he proved what self-belief and a good moustache (like Dhawan’s) can do to a cricketer’s all-round performance. His armour has shaped into a pretty lethal delivery. He is also arguably the team’s best fielder, high praise in a side that also has the likes of Virat Kohli and Suresh Raina.


…shabab Khan | 

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About Shabab Khan

A Journalist, Philanthropist; Author of 'The Magician', 'Go!', 'Brutal'. Being a passionate writer, I am into Journalism and writing columns, news stories, articles for top media house. Twitter: @khantastix khansworld@rediffmail.com
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One Response to Talismanic Team India

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