“Cricket is a game of uncertainties”, the men in blue have just proved this statement right once again. Till a month ago the Indian team was reeling in tatters. The Men in blue were being outplayed in Australia. The winless tour of Australia had given rise to countless questions regarding the ideal playing combination. Ms Dhoni’s captaincy in the limited overs format had also come under a lot of scrutiny. Moreover, MS Dhoni’s sudden retirement from the test match arena had also hinted towards a possible rift within the teammates.
But fortunately, all of that is history; we are getting to see an optimistic, a rejuvenated and a completely transformed team India at the 2015 World Cup. The team which failed to win even a single game on a dismal Australian tour Earlier in January has annihilated some of the strongest teams in the tournament to book a berth for the quarter finals. Cricket experts all over the world are in utter shock and amazement for the sudden rise of the Indian team. Some of them even termed it as a miracle. A thumping win over Pakistan, South Africa hammed by over a hundred runs, a clinical performance against the United Arabs and most recently, an exciting win in a low scoring game against the Calypso Kings has left an everlasting impact on everyone’s mind.
Some of us may consider the Indian team’s comeback to be a miracle, I am not sure it is. The team’s performance was not at all below par in the recently concluded test series in Australia. Players like Virat Kohli, Ajinkya Rahane and Murali Vijay were in sublime form. The Indians were possibly running short on luck at that time. The batsmen were scoring runs. Virat Kohli scored 4 centuries in 4 consecutive tests in Australia. He thus became the first Indian batsman to achieve the feat. Rahane too, played some crucial knocks in the test series. Now the question arises: “If the players were performing then why was the team losing?” The answer isn’t hard to find.
The prime reason behind India’s disastrous outings in Australia was the bowling department’s failure to curtail the flow of runs. The likes of Shami, Umesh and Bhuvaneshwar were leaking runs at brisk pace. But fortunately for the men in blue, the seamers have finally managed to hit the right note. Umesh Yadav and Mohammad Shami have troubled the opponents quite a bit with their steaming bouncers and short pitch deliveries. The Indian bowlers have used the bouncer extremely well. Shami and yadav have been getting early wickets so far in the tournament. Mohammad Shami has acted as the bowling spearhead of this largely inexperienced bowling line up. Mohit Sharma, who gained a wild card entry into the world cup squad, has also been bowling brilliantly. He is mixing it up quite nicely and is using the slower ball judiciously. The Indian bowlers may lack experience but the extent of unity and coordination among the bowlers has made them virtually unplayable. The Indian pace battery may not have big names but it is the bowling unit’s unpredictability which makes them dangerous.
Now, if we have closer look at the batting department, we’re bound to find a lot of positives. To start with, Virat Kohli’s valiant century in the opening game against Pakistan followed by a useful 46 against the proteas. This lad from Delhi is making a statement at the ongoing world cup. Furthermore, Shikhar Dhawan’s return to form at the top of the order has surely been the most pleasing thing to the eyes of the Indian fans. This burly-surly southpaw from Delhi scored a promising 73 against arch rivals Pakistan and followed that up with a splendid 138 against the formidable south African pace battery. Ajinkya Rahane and Suresh Raina too, made significant contributions against South Africa and Pakistan respectively.
The spin duo of Ravindra Jadeja and Ravi Ashwin has also been performing reasonably well. Ashwin in Particular, has been bowling consistent lines to the right handers particularly. Jadeja and Ashwin have this habit of getting through their overs quickly. The duo has also curtailed the flow of runs in the middle overs thus pressurizing the batsmen to go for big hits later on in the innings and which consequently leads to the loss of wickets towards the back end of the innings.
All in all, it has been a thoroughly clinical performance by the men in blue so far in the tournament. But the road ahead is tougher. The men in blue will now clash against the spirited Irishmen in Hamilton and then against minnows Zimbabwe in Auckland. The conditions will play their part in New Zealand. The tracks in New Zealand are seaming tracks where the ball moves around every now and then. Indians would surely like to maintain their unbeaten run in the world cup. It will also be interesting to see which team faces India in the Quarterfinals. It is going to take some getting for the men in blue to adapt to the seaming conditions but, as an age old saying goes: “Losers make excuses regarding conditions, Winners make conditions for victory”.