As the IPL draws to a close, it’s comforting to see the India players, pencilled in for the T20 World Cup, in rip-roaring form.
Of course, Virender Sehwag and Gautam Gambhir are notable failures but the rest are warming Indian hearts and who knows, the Delhi openers might just hit the straps in the remaining games to make the defending champions hot favourites again.
You have a middle-order of Suresh Raina, Rohit Sharma, Yuvraj Singh and Ravindra Jadeja, all exceptional players. Yuvraj is a known six-hitter but Raina and Rohit, if anything, have exceeded him. Raina is a young man with strong arms and wrists and can pull even good length balls beyond the boundary.
Rohit is an effortless timer who moves in or outside the line of deliveries to produce soaring hits over extra-cover and midwicket. Jadeja is a clever manipulator of the field and is just about coming into his own.
The team has allrounders in the Pathan brothers, Yusuf and Irfan, who can win matches on their own. Yusuf has three Man-of-the-Match awards against his name while Irfan, one remembers, masterminded a hectic chase and on another occasion won an almost hopeless case against the Deccan Chargers.
Mahendra Singh Dhoni has underlined how exceptional he is as a cricketer and captain. His cool methods have had a singular influence on Chennai’s progress. He isn’t averse to dropping his gloves and fielding in the outfield to snub his tardy fielders.
Then, we have the bowlers, all match-winners in their own right. Zaheer Khan hasn’t returned to the IPL after his injury but his selection to the squad is a reflection that all’s well. His partners Ishant Sharma, R.P. Singh and Praveen Kumar have bowled well over the last few weeks.
As for the spinners, Harbhajan Singh has good company in Pragyan Ojha. There are three spinning jewels in the ranks. Yuvraj and Rohit have three hattricks between them and Raina’s off-spinners aren’t easy to get away from. Dhoni’s men, I reckon, are the team to beat in England.