Memories of a miserable Australian tour faded fast, as first India got on top of Pakistan and then proceeded to put their arch rivals out of their misery at the Adelaide Oval.
That’s the first set out of the way [it’s 6-0 against Pakistan at the World Cup], now India has to focus on playing a similar brand of cricket for the remainder of the tournament and their trophy defence will be in good shape.
India’s performance was not only a morale boost but also a form finder for some important players in India’s campaign. The revitalisation of Shikhar Dhawan and Suresh Raina as batsmen was crucial, as was the rediscovering of form at his beloved Adelaide Oval by match winner Virat Kohli.
It also didn’t hurt that India chose the right combination for this contest and the fast bowlers, who have been wayward from day one in Australia, suddenly found their compass and bowled a good line and length. And the excellent showing from off-spinner R Ashwin not only put a charge in India’s defence of a good total, it made it even harder to understand why he is so un-loved at times by the selectors.
Ashwin is a good bowler and in the form he displayed at Adelaide Oval he’s a crucial part of any success India is likely to have in this tournament.
However, the most pleasing part of India’s win was the vibrant and pro-active captaincy of M S Dhoni. It’s when Dhoni has days like this - well ahead of the game and exerting pressure with his field placings - that make you wonder if the ‘other captain’, who is listless and seemingly uncaring, is just a card board cut out placed behind the stumps with pads and gloves on.
Dhoni’s animated approach showed up in the Indian fielding which was athletic and safe and made the English effort against Australia look like a bunch of performing cart horses. India must now be asking themselves; “How did we ever lose to England in the tri-series?”
It’s almost as if this is what India has been waiting for the whole tour; the World Cup. As though an alarm clock rang shrill on Sunday morning and the Indian players said; “Ah, our wake-up call for the Cup.”
Dhawan batted smartly, taking his time and was judicious with his shot selection. Raina was bold and confident where he’d been hesitant and nervy previously. And Kohli - well he just continued his love affair with the picturesque Adelaide Oval and batted with supreme confidence and sublime touch.
The batting and the bowling of Mohammad Shami and Ashwin were all great news for India. Nevertheless, the best sight was an animated Dhoni leading the side at his best; if he continues in this vein then India is right back in the tournament.