Some of the “great critics” of Indian cricket maintain that India did not deserve to win yesterday and here’s why. Of course I being a die hard India fan will give my own counters in brackets just to even the equation and justify the win!
1. Dhoni picked the wrong guy in Nehra instead of Ashwin. (He came in, Dhoni wanted options and he came good so..)
2. Umar Gul packed the off side and bowled too straight to allow Sehwag to get a great start. (Gul wanted to get Sehwag out LBW but it happened after the man had got 38 runs in double quick time. Finally they did get him LBW and just in case people forgot Sehwag also hit some through the off side.)
3. How many catches can a team miss? (So what? The 85 runs were still worth their weight in gold and the strokes played to get them … I leave that to the experts!)
4. Too many extras were given away in the end by Pak. (They bowled badly. How many extras did India give away? They bowled well!)
5. Hafeez played a bad shot when he had just settled nicely. (Handling pressure in the name of the game! Sorry but Indians handled pressure much better yesterday)
6. Umar Akmal should have been promoted ahead of Misbah. (That is where the captaincy of Dhoni makes the difference)
7. Afridi should have asked for the power play as soon as he came in. (Read counter in point no 6 above)
8. Misbah should have timed his charge atleast a couple of overs earlier. (Ok we deserve to win so no more counters!)
They are almost there. The glorious men in blue, this special Indian team is one game away from repeating history. And that they will do, mark my words! Dhoni and his men are special; they are talented, ambitious, inspiring, strong mentally and physically, and above all driven to succeed. They showed it all at Mohali. Yes, Tendulkar had survived 7 times, but survive he did and scored the most precious runs of the game. Even the real God (if there is one) wasn’t willing to let him out of sight. Sehwag blunted Umar Gul’s pre-match rhetoric in no time. Gambhir, Kohli and Dhoni contributed valuable runs while occupying the crease. Suresh Raina topped it off with a special innings.
I had tweeted early on in the game that 275 was going to be a winning total. While I felt India were about 20 runs short, I also knew that Pakistan had a fairly ordinary batting lineup and 260 was absolutely defendable. And defend they did. Dhoni made a controversial call at the start of the game, leaving Ashwin out for the out-of-form Nehra. That turned out to be brilliant move. Nehra bowled outstandingly well, fielding sincerely, and helped Raina add a few at the end of the innings. The Indians have fielded out of their skins in the last couple of games and what a refreshing sight that has been!
The Pakistanis bowled superbly as expected. Their fielding was a mockery and going back to the basics would be an understatement. Their batting, I have always felt, was mediocre. While I am a big fan of Younus Khan, his days in one dayers have long been over. Misbah Ul Haq is as mysterious as previous namesake captain. The Akmals are never known to carry their innings long enough to finish off. Afridi is a pale shadow of his past. Any total above 230 was going to be tough ask. Here is a team that was bowled out in the 180s by an associate nation consisting of part time cricketers (sorry Canadians!).
This world cup could not have been scripted better than what it is. It has been a dream journey. Sachin Tendulkar will grace Wankhade in the finals and win it for India. I also predict that, if this happens, God will announce his retirement from one day internationals. Strong statement that, but as Ravi Shastri would say, I have a feeling!