After initial fumbles, Mahendra Singh Dhoni and his men are up and away. Sachin Tendulkar's presence has always made a difference. He has played second fiddle when Virender Sehwag comes out with guns blazing. He becomes the aggressor when he's required to set the pace. After two decades, Tendulkar's presence is still revitalising. The bottom line is the bloke batting with him knows he is batting with the boss.
It helps Tendulkar now that men at the other end are tearing attacks to shreds. Shewag in the first two games and Yuvraj Singh in the third have batted with such fury that bowlers have been swept away in the tide. There's still a boyish enthusiasm about Sachin, a hint that he is still working at perfecting his craft. There isn't any stroke he hasn't played in the last one week and he still scampers between stumps with boundless energy. Now that's the reason he is still playing one-day cricket. Now don't ever ask me questions why blokes of his vintage shouldn't be playing one-day cricket.
The last few games have also underlined a few pleasing aspects about this Indian outfit. Yuvraj Singh is now at the peak of his prowess, with a hunger to match. Suresh Raina is finally coming to age --- equally comfortable at number three, as he is adept at providing a rousing finish.
It also is noticeable that spin could be New Zealand's bugbear on this tour. Yuvraj and Harbhajan Singh were difficult to get away for the Kiwi batsmen. Yuvraj is loving extra responsibility. The way Dhoni operates, I wouldn't be surprised if he inducts Pragyan Ojha or lobs the ball at Sehwag who has been kept under wraps so far.
India need one more victory from the two remaining ODIs to clinch the series. Even without Tendulkar and Ishant Sharma, it still seems to possess enough firepower to tame the Kiwis. It could still take a leaf out of Kiwis' book in terms of fielding but then the hosts are in a league of their own when it comes to ability in the field.
As for New Zealand, I still feel their best chance is in chasing down a target. They have batsman who bat till the end. A few lucky breaks when Indians are batting and they can sense their chance. There could still be a few twists and turns in this series. It's for the Indians to keep coming at full tilt. It's up to the rest to make sure the absence of Tendulkar doesn't cost them heavy.
I am enjoying the watching folks. TCM