India making all the right moves
It's a clear indication that team spirit within this remarkable bunch of Indian cricketers is running high. Cricket fans can expect even better days from its team in the coming weeks, writes Ravi Shastri.india Updated: Nov 21, 2008 01:19 IST
England are now a match away from losing the series. They haven't looked a match to India and batting has been their chief failing. Kevin Pietersen walked in at number three after an excellent start but then Harbhajan Singh got the measure of him. If pacers don't get to them, spinners do. It'd be futile for England to blame the conditions or any other extraneous factors. They have just run into a side, which is on top of its game.
Bhajji apart, Yuvraj Singh didn't hit a century and there was just one wicket from his 10 overs but his 38 runs were critical. India couldn't have afforded to fall behind the asking rate and his knock from 31 balls with two fours and one six tells its own tale. No less praise is due to Mahendra Singh Dhoni whose calming influence quelled Flintoff's charge in the last-minute dash.
Flintoff's was a sterling effort with the ball till a little cameo from Yusuf Pathan in the final overs took a bit of sheen off it. Pathan picked him up for two fours in the closing minutes and, when the margin of win is a mere 16 runs its importance cannot be understated.
How England would have wished that Flintoff had struck with the bat earlier in the day. Big Freddy is a hesitant starter against spinners and the only way to ensure better performance from him is to push him up the order.
India also looked cool in the field. There were some excellent saves in the outfield. Dhoni was solid as usual behind the stumps and he hardly lets go of a chance these days. Ishant Sharma in his return game was rusty after a 10-day gap. His two wickets late in the innings had a major role though in India accounting for five quick wickets in the final overs. England couldn't hit a boundary in the final three overs.
India would be gladdened by the return to form of Rohit Sharma. His stand with Virender Sehwag was critical. Sehwag wasn't all guns blazing this afternoon --- his 68 off 76 balls would be a tardy progress by his yardstick! His willingness to stay at the crease for the team's cause shows that Sehwag is still evolving. It's a clear indication that team spirit within this remarkable bunch of Indian cricketers is running high. Cricket fans can expect even better days from its team in the coming weeks.