We now know that all this talk about fatigue, travel and too much cricket amounts to nothing. MS Dhoni’s men were like hungry lions as they made short work of Pakistan in the final warm-up game, heading into the main event.
Indians bustled with energy on the field and when it came to chasing, they sprinted down the target with ease. Rohit Sharma, after two years of witnessing inevitable ups and downs, is now a mature player. The way he played — mixing little nudges with big shots, manipulating the field with clever use of the feet — was nothing less than breathtaking. He could dash down the wicket or hold himself back for that little deft dab past the keeper leaving the bowlers at their wits’ end. You couldn’t make out that this lad had been on the road for the last five months! Dhoni has pulled out a trump card by putting him up at the front. Gambhir is also on a rehabilitation mission. The best batsmen are in front and it’s important they are in good nick, as Matthew Hayden and Adam Gilchrist so amply demonstrated in the IPL II.
India also doesn’t seem too perturbed by Zaheer Khan’s absence. Ishant Sharma has shown the hunger to take the workload. When young men like these show such intensity, the effect on the rest is infectious. India still would like to come to grips with injury issues. The return of Sehwag and Zaheer would be awaited as also Yuvraj Singh who has missed the two warm-up games.
India and South Africa would be the teams to beat. Both these sides are packed with left-handers and multidimensional players. Australia too are in the same league and these three teams are evenly matched, though I still believe India has the best team on paper. But any big team can take a fall. No one knows this better than India and South Africa whose many a campaign have been hurt by unexpected turbulence. India lost to Bangladesh in the 2007 World Cup and this time too the neighbours are their first opponents. Come Saturday, India have a score to settle. I honestly believe that to win back-to-back T20 titles is more difficult than world cups in the longer version.