The story thus far
It has been a fortnight since India landed in England for WT20. Arjun Sen takes a look at instances that have defined India’s show.india Updated: Jun 15, 2009 00:35 IST
The win over Pakistan
It was billed as a friendly. Try telling that to the fans who flocked to the Oval to watch the bitter rivals face each other for the first time since 26/11. India were the better team, and by a distance, outplaying Pakistan in a nine-wicket win. Rohit Sharma lit the stadium up with a 53-ball 80 to make the opener’s slot his.
Yuvraj Singh’s 18-ball 41
Yuvraj seems to reserve his best for the World T20s. In 2007, he smashed six sixes off a Stuart Broad over, and in 2009, he meted out similar treatment to a hapless Bangladesh attack. India were pegged back in the middle overs after a good start and had it not been for Yuvraj’s big hitting, it could have got worse earlier in the tournament.
Zaheer’s return to form and fitness
With the Indian bowling off colour in the warm-ups, MS Dhoni was desperate for his strike bowler to return to the kind of form he had shown before picking up an injury in the Indian Premier League. And the Indian skipper got his wish in the last group game — against Ireland. Zaheer was devastating in overcast conditions at Nottingham, running through the Irish top-order. He ended up with figures for 4/19 off three overs, but more importantly, announced his return.
Yuvraj’s audacious flick
Let’s take the fact that they lost the game out of the equation for a minute. It might have been in vain, but the six Yuvraj hit off Jerome Taylor was a thing of beauty. The nonchalance he displayed in picking up a full, fast delivery and flicking it over mid-wicket with virtually no follow through whatsoever was something only Yuvraj could do. A real privilege to witness.
That Pragyan Ojha was making his international T20 debut skipped almost everyone's mind till the Hyderabad spinner brought it up while speaking after winning the Man-of-the-Match award. His good run in the IPL gave him a lot of confidence and it showed against Bangladesh. His variations proved too much for the Bangladeshis, with the spinner ending with figures of 4/17.
Things got controversial for the Indian cricket team when Virender Sehwag’s now-famous shoulder made headlines ever since the team’s arrival, eventually resulting in a surgery at Nottingham. But, with poor media management in practice, speculation was rife about a rift between Dhoni and Sehwag over the latter not being frank and upfront about the injury he sustained during the IPL.
Dhoni’s lack of form
Often, the captain's individual performance becomes the barometer for the team's success. Dhoni's tournament never really got going, even though, by batting at No. 3, he gave himself enough opportunities to post good scores. With innings of 36, 14, and 11 so far, Dhoni has looked hardly like the batsman we know he can be, often throwing away his wicket at crucial junctures and putting undue pressure on the largely untested middle-order.
In the two warm-ups, the official explanation for poor death bowling was ‘trying out new things’. Things, however, have not changed too much since then. India’s bowlers have consistently conceded big runs in the final few overs.
Pace battery going AWOL
In the warm-ups, Dhoni preferred the in-form — IPL being the yardstick — bowling combination of Praveen Kumar and RP Singh. Zaheer’s lack of fitness obviously helped make Dhoni’s mind up. Ishant Sharma had a good game against Pakistan, but has been struggling for form ever since. Irfan Pathan has lost touch with swing bowling, going for plenty.
Bhajji’s lack of wickets
Harbhajan Singh came into the tournament with a decent spell with Mumbai Indians in the IPL. But, since, hardly anything's gone right for the Turbanator. His reluctance to slow his pace and flight the ball has made him an easy target for the batsmen. Harbhajan’s performance — just 1 wicket in the tournament — has hurt India.