By Ganesh Subramanian
Post IPL, there were apprehensions of India’s performance in a tournament as important as the Champions Trophy, given the constant travelling and playing associated with the IPL. At the end of Group B matches, with India cementing their place in the semi-finals, one can say that those apprehensions have been well and truly given a decent burial.
India’s young brigade have responded to the challenges in the tournament featuring the top 8 ODI sides with clinical demolition of three quality sides in the group stage and look good to add more victims to their list. Seaming conditions in England have always troubled the sides from the sub-continent and India has overcome that hurdle with consummate ease.
It’s difficult to rack our brains and try remembering a time when the top order has been so consistent. Shikhar Dhawan and Rohit Sharma, a new opening pair for India, have responded brilliantly so far and have been instrumental in India posting big totals batting first or professionally chasing down targets. In fact, it would be fair enough to say that opposition teams did not have the luxury of running through the Indian batting lineup beyond Dinesh Karthik.
Such is the remarkable maturity with which the top order has done the job. As always, there is a worry that the likes of Raina, Dhoni and Jadeja haven’t had much batting practice. But the fact is that these three have had some decent outing in the tournament so far including the warm-up matches and can be expected to step up to the plate when needed. All these have been achieved with an out-of-form Virat Kohli. It’s not too hard to imagine the bowlers’ plight once Kohli finds his own in the tournament.
Indian bowling, probably a trifle weak compared to its batting, has gone about its job quite efficiently despite not possessing some star bowlers like the other sides. Bhuvaneshwar Kumar, Ishant Sharma and Umesh Yadav have ripped the heart of the opposition batting line-ups by slicing open the top order of opposition teams and spinners Jadeja and Ashwin have tightened the noose in the middle overs to ensure that the opposition challenge is snuffed out even before it got going.
The fielding looks tigerish with the likes of Jadeja, Kohli, Rohit Sharma and Dinesh Karthik swooping down on opposition batsmen like a vulture onto its prey, cutting off singles, choking the run flow and also effecting runouts. Dhoni’s captaincy, as always, has been admirable. With attacking fields like slip, silly point and leg slip, Dhoni has never given a breather to the opposition. Dhoni has even found use for the slowest fielder in the team, Ashwin, by getting him the slip cordon.
After beating Pakistan, a first for India in the Champions Trophy, Dhoni looks all set to add another trophy to his cabinet. Time to bleed blue!
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