When it comes to my opinions, nothing is ever final. But I digress, India won last night and convincingly too, contrary to many media reports and popular opinion. Any side that wins an ODI with almost 20 overs to spare has trounced its opposition.
All this talk of, "if we had 40-50 more runs, it would've been interesting", is pure and utter rubbish. If England did manage to score a competitive total, India would have batted differently. Yuvraj Singh would not have simply patted back innocuous back-of-a-length balls, he would have tried to put the bowlers under some pressure. Mahendra Singh Dhoni would not have blocked half volleys from part-timers like Dalrymple, he would have smashed them over cover to the fence and beyond.
Point being, a batsman's mindset changes (rightly or wrongly) when he is faced with the dual scenario of chasing a small total and having the opportunity to spend some time in the middle due to a minor form slump. Sorry Freddy, your lot were never in the game.
It was heartening to see Irfan Pathan bowl with energy and vigour. He ran in hard, picked up his pace and things started happening. Sure, there is no need to get carried away by his performance, but there are signs that he may be on the rebound from his recent trough. That is a very healthy sign, given how he underlined, last night, his value to the Indian cause.
Undoubtedly, Pathan was helped a great deal by the pressure applied by Munaf Patel at the other end. Although, Munaf did not bowl at his fastest, he did enough to keep the batsman honest and combined it with superb accuracy. Both opening bowlers laid the perfect foundation for the spinners who do not need an invitation to scalp the hapless English batsmen.
The batting was not fluent by any stretch of the imagination. Then again, it doesn't need to be at this early stage of the tournament/season. Most of the batsman played a small part in seeing the side home. Tendulkar showed us glimpses of why he is the only genius in world cricket and more is sure to come from him over the next year or so. Surprisingly, Rahul Dravid seemed almost disinterested, although the fireworks upon his arrival could not have helped. I am prepared to give Sehwag another bite at the cherry as you cannot blame an opening batsman for chasing a full wide one that he ordinarily deposits to or over the cover fence. I think Raina needs a session with Rudi Webster, just to clear some cobwebs.
All in all, it was not the most cohesive performance. However, as I had opined in my preview it is better to undergo a slow build-up where each component of your game clicks one-by-one rather than the big bang approach, which is likely to paper over some of the team's inherent weaknesses. I am sure we'll see the Indians collectively step up a notch or two against the West Indies. Until then, enjoy a well earned Diwali break gentlemen.
PS. It was nice of Priyanka Chopra and Shah Rukh Khan to show up and support the team. I wonder what movie is being shot in Jaipur at the moment. Either way, as long as Priyanka Chopra is in it, I will be watching it (images courtesy Cricinfo).
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