Wednesday, 26 September 2007

Just reward for team work

Hearty congratulations to the Indian team. The indomitable spirit proved decisive in the end. Not having a reputation to live up to was the blessing in disguise. M.S. Dhoni, Yuvraj Singh and Harbhajan Singh did not meet expectations in the final yet India pulled it off, thanks to players accepting responsibility and not getting overawed by the big stage.

It was a fearless and modern approach from a bunch of youngsters in a format that is still foreign to many. Both sides played a final which, made it worthy and only a mistake as elementary as one would get to see from the usually cool and collected soul, Misbah-ul-Haq was to be the difference between a nation rejoicing and another left in despair. There was not much to choose from the two sides.

There were many positives India can draw from this campaign. The foremost being the captaincy of Dhoni who remained unruffled throughout the championship. His calming influence was the apex on which, the Indian wave rode. There was no place for individuals. Every win was constructed on the nucleus called 'team effort', it helped shatter myths. No one was indispensable. If there was one player who was unable to deliver, there were two putting their hands up to chip in.

The T20 has caught the imagination of the public and this win will herald a new era. As there were one-day specialists trying to make a mark in the early '90's, there will be a set of players who will train their thoughts and mind entirely to suit the demands of this format. One thing is certain there would be no place here for pretenders.

Dhoni winning the toss was a huge favour he did to his side. The pressure of a World Cup final and add the name of the opponents, it would be an uphill task to chase the most meager of targets for India. Gautham Gambhir who received so much flak for not coming good against quality opposition silenced his critics with a knock that gave his team a chance to fight. His shot selection was sublime and effective at the same time. Rohit Sharma was a revelation; the youngster came good whenever an opportunity presented itself.

The target was never going to be tough if Pakistan resorted to percentage cricket. Sorry that cannot be achieved in a India-Pakistan clash. The pressure gets to you at some point and the mistakes start creeping in. Younis Khan and Shoaib Malik went into a shell and handed over the match to India. Misbah is a player who takes calculated risks and believes in the theory the match is not over until the last ball. It reminded me of the great Javed Miandad who pulled the rug from under our feet on numerous occasions.

R.P. Singh delivered when it mattered and so did Irfan Pathan with his canny slow cutters. The entire pace and power had to be generated by the batsmen as Joginder, and the Pathan siblings provided them with nothing. It was a tactical ploy that worked on a wicket that slowed down a touch towards the end of the Pakistan innings.

A week from now no single player will be remembered, while the whole team would be. The most defining moment would yet be the brutal assault of Yuvraj on a hapless Stuart Broad. The knock made the team believe it can test the best, and it was great to see the team carry the momentum from there. It was no fluke as the best in the business were left on the wayside.

The transition has started. It is up to the selectors to try and help players from this team make a seamless change to the ODI squad. The win has ushered in a new era. Looking back the team was only a stroke away from defeat but they held their nerves. Pakistan threw away an opportunity. Misbah was better off hitting the ball straight and the shot he tried was never going to come off against the pace of Joginder. The man who took them to the doorsteps of glory muffed it with a piece of poor cricket thinking. The pressure of India-Pakistan cricket has made a Mickey out of the best and it was no surprise it even had a cool head thinking otherwise.