A favourable ruling by the Supreme Court on Friday morning did not seem enough. The cricketers remained locked in their rooms. No one came down to the pool. They just had a brief team meeting before quietly walking up to the team bus, from a different exit than on previous days.
The Supreme Court had allowed both Chennai Super Kings and the Rajasthan Royals to play in this edition of the Indian Premier League and considering the fact that seven players in this squad are from those two teams, the news must have moved a mountain off their chests. But even if it did, there was a lull as Yuvraj Singh and then Mahendra Singh Dhoni along with Virat Kohli got into the bus.
The relief finally showed at 10.07pm (IST). Dhoni hit Ziaur Rahaman for a six over his head, walked up to Virat, unbeaten on 57 at the other end, and shook hands as Suresh Raina broke into a broad smile in the dugout. Embraces, hugs and handshakes followed as India qualified for the semi-finals, for the first time since the inaugural edition of the World Twenty20 in 2007, with an eight-wicket win over Bangladesh with nine balls to spare. With three wins in three matches, India have ensured that only one team between Pakistan and West Indies from the group can match them.
But what is the secret of success of this team? With so much happening back home, how did the team manage to keep its focus? “That is because we have a great dressing room atmosphere. Everyone is happy with the other’s success and everyone backs up everyone else. A lot of things happen around us in cricket and as professional players we have to keep focus. The team has done that really well,” a visibly relieved Dhoni said after the match.
Ironically, it was a Chennai Super Kings player who was adjudged Man-of-the-Match. The two early wickets by R Ashwin pushed Bangladesh on to the backfoot.
Amit Mishra once again got three wickets, the pick of them being the dismissal of Anamul Haque with a well-disguised googly. That Bangladesh went past 100 was due to some rearguard action by Mahmudullah, who has been criticised the most in the team.
But with Virat and Rohit once again getting to half-centuries, the Indian batting lineup remains to be tested. Dhoni promoted himself to No 4 on Friday to get a knock for the first time in the tournament where India are yet to set a target. So, even qualifying with one game to spare, this will remain a concern for India.