A rare show of dominance

One of my thoughts after the 2011 World Cup was that, “This Indian team could not have won the World Cup anywhere outside India.” A bowling attack that heavily  relied on spin was one reason but the most important reason was that it wasn’t a good fielding side at all and they would be badly exposed on the bigger grounds in Australia or England. It had a bunch of slow movers – Sehwag, Tendulkar, Munaf, Nehra, Zaheer and to an extent Yuvraj. During the league stages, someone was always taking a comfort break and Raina was doing substitution duty. There were accusations that he was India’s specialist fielder. This Indian team is quite different. It has helped a lot that a bunch of 32-plus folks have been replaced with a bunch of 27-minus folks. Raina, Jadeja, Kohli, Rohit, Karthik – all are excellent fielders. The bowlers though not in the same class – aren’t too slow either (except for Ashwin). At various stages in the Champions Trophy one could see the ring on the offside suffocating the batsmen. This is one reason why India are already serious contenders to defend their title in the 2015 World Cup.

Indian players can really proud of this effort. They won all the 7 matches they played ( which includes 2 warmups) and only in the final did the opposition have a realistic chance of winning with 10 overs to go in the second innings. Such dominance has never been exhibited by the Indian team, even on those rare occasions they would flounder at the last hurdle.

Some say that  the changed playing conditions in the final helped India.I do not think so.

Before the match people were talking that England’s best chance in the final was a wet day and we had one.

Some  say that they a 20 over game made it easier for India. I disagree. The Indian batsmen are masters of ODI batting – a strength that comes from their ability to milk ones and twos in the middle overs to get 5 runs an over without breaking a sweat. This is an often underrated ability. I bet teams like England and West Indies do not have players to do that. They can’t score 100 runs of 20 overs without 10 boundaries. Their players just have two gears or in some cases just one. Reducing the match to 20 overs nullified this advantage India had.

Also, people should remember that two balls are used in an ODI game ( the final was supposed to be one). This meant that England had the advantage of bowling with a ball that was never older than 10 overs  under overcast and heavy conditions. England used it properly and India got restricted to a below par total. Thankfully for India the pitch turned and Jadeja and Ashwin had England in knots. And England’s lower middle order helped them by capitulating.

The old problem of poor death bowling is still there, but India have two years to work on it.


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