End justifies the means despite ugly win
Overall, Dhoni should be happy with his returns from the Ireland game. Sometimes, what you get becomes more important than how you get it. Atreyo Mukhopadhyay writes.cricket Updated: Mar 07, 2011 23:43 IST
Unconvincing? Yes. Not assertive enough? No doubt. Made to work harder than expected? That was there for all to see.
These questions will surface after India's labourious win against Ireland in Bangalore on Sunday. A contest featuring the heavyweights and a bunch of hardworking newcomers shouldn't have been that close. In terms of experience, ability and achievements, the gulf between the Indians and the Irish is probably as wide as the geographical distance between the countries.
Apart from the last few overs of the chase, the Indian batsmen didn't look convincing enough in their pursuit of a modest 207. The batsmen did fail to impose themselves against Ireland and could afford to play the waiting game because the challenge was limited. The same batsmen had rattled up 370 and 338 in the two previous games, against more established names. This is where the comparison should end and the analysis begin.
Test of application
One has to be realistic when it comes to expectations. It's difficult for any team to consistently pile up 300-plus totals. Factors like the pitch, the opposition's bowling, fielding and the law of averages have to be taken into account, irrespective of who you are playing.
The pitch was a lot slower than what was seen in previous matches. The ball was stopping, spinning, gripping the surface and at times puffs of dust came off from where the ball pitched. It was different from normal Indian one-day wickets.
On a surface like that, where the bowlers kept the ball straight and the Irish fielders intercepted almost everything inside the circle, the Indian batsmen were forced to graft. Sachin Tendulkar, Virat Kohli and Mahendra Singh Dhoni applied themselves along with Yuvraj Singh.
In a long tournament like this, it's perhaps good for a team heavily dependent on batsmen to have a tough outing. Not everyday will Virender Sehwag get them off to a flier; on those days, others will have to assess the situation and play accordingly. It didn't please the eye, but India got the job done.
Bowlers at it
It is true the Irish denied the Indian bowlers success for more than 20 overs during the third-wicket partnership between William Porterfield and Niall O'Brien. A total of around 250 was looking imminent at one stage, and that could have made India's task harder. In that sense, the bowlers deserve some credit. Barring Piyush Chawla, others did their job.
Overall, Dhoni should be happy with his returns from the Ireland game. Sometimes, what you get becomes more important than how you get it.