There is always this saying that keeps going around, which says captain is as good as the team. Napoleon said once something to the effect that he doesn't fear an army of hundred of lions led by a sheep but fears an army hundreds of sheep led by a tiger. Dhoni got his team, he won. There are light years between Dhoni and others captains in the latest contest that saw India winning Champions trophy. Yes team matters, there have been these brilliant performances, starting but not limiting to Jadeja and Dhawan, who won the golden ball and golden bat respectively. The fielding was superlative through out the tiurnament. It made a just above decent (pace) bowling look brilliant. The top order clicked and middle order had little chances and on their way to winning the trophy, got exposed in the final a little bit, but they won all the matches, at times they looked to be losing ground but came back to win eventually.
Champions of champions
India beat previous winners, South Africa and West Indies, Sri Lanka. The first match against South Africa, which started well for the Indians. Steyn didn't play as he was ruled out on fitness grounds, Morkel broke down middle of the game, rest of the bowling didnt posed enough challenge. Sharma cut loose early and Dhwana caught up to match stroke for stroke. Sharma characteristically holed out, Dhawan went on to score his second century in as many international innings.
There were more twirls to the mustache which were to follow. Indians faulted a late charge by Jadeja and Indians ended up scoring 334. In the end it proved just enough to secure a win.
South African charge saw, Bhuvanesh claiming Ingram as the first wicket, Yadav then claimed Amla with one that took the inside edge, Amla was a man in hurry and a big wicket to restrict SAf chase early. Devilliers promoted Peterson up the order probably showed his cards to soon. Peterson and Devilliers kept building a strong base. Jadeja through a brilliant fielding spectacle claimed Peterson run-out, the trap was set for the choke. Jadeja then claimed Dumiy LBW and the bubble was just about to meet the needle, from 155 for 2 they were reduced to 188 for 6. The danger men were all in the pavillion. Then Indian just made sure SAf were in the hut and just deflated SAf chances. McClaren did play well, if only one of the SAf batsmen had stayed long enough on the crease.
West Indies were next.
West Indies started well. Gayle obviously like T20s, started well, but then got out as he was looking to build on. West Indies look half baked if Gayle doesn't fires. So it was wickets, run wickets, wickets, run wickets and Runs. Charles played well, but once spinners came of, he played to many shots instead of holding on. Darren Bravo was almost on his way to score an infamous 36 not out, but his misery too ended soon. Jadeja just ran through the middle order taking fie wickets, with subtle changes of turn and bounce and spin and West Indies batsman had little clue. Jadeja has come a long way, in the last T20 world cup in West Indies he was nowhere as good as a bowler, and to come from there and win the golden ball is something.
Sammy however restored faith in tottering innings I think Sammy should be batting three down and should shoulder the responsibility of building an innings from 25 to 40 over. He scored last 50 of West Indies runs on his own. He caned Ishant Sharma, epitome of Indian bowlers inabilit to bowl at the death. A very interesting chased one would have though, Indian reply was one worth looking forward too.
Talented Mr Sharma and Messrs Dhawan started the Indian chase. Sharma with some daft touches, square drives and pulls, started to make West Indies attack very very ordinary Sharma is an innovative modern day player, but he is at his innovative best when it comes to getting out. He managed to get a tickle on the inside edge flicking the bal leg side,one of the more embarrassing ways to get out if there is one. Nanine claimed both the wickets that feel meanwhile rampaging Dhawan kept building on and scored is second ton of the series. Karthick meanwhile helped himself to a half century as West Indies dropped catches and chance of posing a challenge to Indian reply. The Juggernaut had just started to roll.
A farce called Pakistan cricket team.
Pakistan are the most dangerous when they are down and out. They have been down and out for quiet some time. Yes there are these occasional flashes of bizarre freakness but thats about it. Pakistan seem to have a very ordinary team, wickets fall like nine pins. If you bat first and score a decent score of 240 to 260 you pretty much in drivers seat. But Indian were ticking all the boxes on paper, Pakistan seemed unable to put up a decent team on the paper. They limped to an embarrassing 165 in nearly 40 overs. It was such an eyesore of an innings. It wasn't a Pakistan we knew; it was such a shame that there was such a hype for this match and when it ended there wasn't even a whimper about it. Pakistan have to go back and search for wood to find a decent drawing board before thinking of going back to the drawing board. Indian had a cake walk over Pakistan, didn't even look like a worthy of a practice game of clubs,which one feels are more competitive. Pakistan were out bowled and blown in the field. Kohlis run-out of Junaid just stood for the metaphor of the match and Indian's Dominance.
Rain didn't exactly help matters, but that doesn't rob way the fact that Pak played like a true minnow.
Another walk in the park, OK jog.
Lankans came off from a tough match where they beat England chasing down 293, which at one stage looked more than enough score to defend. But against Lankans, Indians won a crucial toss and invited Lankans to bat. Indian bowlers made the most of the bowling conditions and ball swirled and swung on the string. Reduced to 41 for 3 and Dilshan injured. Jayawardene and Matthews tried building a partnership. Jadeja once again put his hat in the ring by having Jayawardene bowled.
Mahela is a big fish, he plays with a silken touch and perhaps one of the better batsman who can play spin bowling. It was a big wicket. Other fell trying to up the ante and Indian restricted Lank an score to 181. A jog in the park was ensured.
Talented Mr Sharma and Dhawan opened the innings, Sharma fell as expected when least expected should have looked to finish the match with a quiet 60 but went for glory and tried an ugly hoick only to get bowled top of off stumped. Embarrassing way to get out. Kohli started cautiously and just build on it. Dhawan was doing the hitting and kept going, before he was smartly stumped. India were in cruise control before more dibble and dabbles, whip and slashes and we were into the finals.
The match was on 23 Sunday, anyone remotely a cricket fan saw the entire Indian campaign at least 5 to 6 times as rains tried it best to get a wash out and England India to be joint winners. The match was 5 minutes away from wash out but rains retreated and a 100 over match was reduced to 20 over a side match.
Indians started cautiously. The rain started and stopped at times Indian batsman were hitting it to covers and stealing singes, at times they were running to the pavilion as the covers came on. 66 for 5 and in deep soup, Sharma bowled again. Dhoni and Raina scored a single between them, Karthick fell to a swipe, Dhawan did his bit but Kohli and Jadeja added quick runs to just push the Indian score at more than run a ball. Just enough cosnidering the condtions and England had to do the chasing.
English had the match to loose. Yadav started the rot, got one to bounce more and Ashwin caught Cook at first slip. Trott was looking comfortable against pace but Indian spinners had sorted out how to bowl on English conditions. Ashwin, was looking to make it rip. He went round the wicket straight away. Trott having dabble previous over to spin , looked very cautious. Went down the wicket, Dhoni stumped him in a flash, Root, holed out on sweep and England were looking very very insipid.
Bell got stumped which was clearly not out and may have just turned the match or nearly turned it in Indians favor Bopara, living under a sword did his bit with eh ball, claiming three wickets earlier, started to build with danger man Morgan. Ishant was back to his merry ways, of gifting one boundary ball per over. Morgan and Bopara looked dangerous Ishant got clubbed for a six and then bowled two wides, Indians looked in a precarious position and need a stroke of luck or a mistimed stroke from the batsman. Morgan has such a good eye, was lulled into a weird stroke lobbed an easy catch at mid wicket, Indian came back next ball, Bopara smashed a pull and Ashwin caught one and India merely had to hold on to the 20 over and victory was there for the taking.
Butler got bowled from a beauty from Jadeja and Indians had their hands on the trophy. One more wicket, courtesy a run-out and fat lady was clearing her throat.
Ashwin had 14 to defend in the last over, with such conditions loaded in favor of Ashwin, he bowled a cool last over even after being stuck for a boundary.
India deserving winners.