The team did it in 2007, and now five years later the same thing has happened. The Indian T20 team has this uncanny knack of winning matches comprehensively sans some of their superstars. This obviously might be termed as a coincidence, but it underlines the unpredictability associated with the format.
In their second match of the tournament against England, Dhoni made a proverbial blunder according to some experts. Zaheer Khan, who Dhoni termed as the Sachin Tendulkar of the bowling department, was rested. Virender Sehwag, who has had a string of low scores, and who is just one big innings away from getting back into form, was not in the line-up. Ravichandran Ashwin was also rested. The decisions received a lot of flak. But India effected one of the biggest victories against the defending champions. A 90-run thumping victory was what India achieved. Dhoni now has a sweet headache heading into round two of the competition. Harbhajan got four wickets, Chawla prodigiously turned the ball, and all the talk about his inclusion has been shut down. Chawla was termed as India’s World Cup specialist and lucky charm. He answered his critics in the best possible manner – with the ball. Rohit Sharma clearly likes playing in the shortest format. He plays with an uncluttered mind and often excels. So does India almost always win without the big superstars in this format?
In 2007, India had a disastrous 50-over World Cup and the places of some of the superstars were in question. Greg Chappell had a fallout with the demigods of India and was termed a villain. The issue even reached the Parliament and some of the opposition leaders raised this issue of foreigners coming to India and ruling us by creating the ‘Divide and Rule’ policy. Greg Chappell’s example was cited. The opposition leaders took a dig at someone else from the Congress which was obvious as well. But against this backdrop the inaugural World Cup was to be held in South Africa. Something interesting happened.
The seniors, who had a disastrous outing in the 50-over competition, took a break from the shortest format of the game and the youngsters were put at the helm to just go out there and express themselves. Mahendra Singh Dhoni became India’s captain in his third season for India. The young team was given absolutely no chance by anyone. On the eve of the semi-final match against Australia, Ravi Shastri wrote an article and stated that Australia looked firm favourites in the contest. After India trounced Australia by 15 runs on the eventful night at Durban, Dhoni told Shastri, “Before I start I should say I read an article by you on Cricinfo. You’d said Australia were the favourites. Today I think me and the boys, we proved you wrong.”
Even in the game against South Africa, India were without the big-hitting Yuvraj Singh. The stylish left hander had hit six sixes in an over in the previous game against England. In the do-or-die encounter against South Africa, India were expected to topple against the home team, in conditions where ball dominated the bat. But the country unearthed a star in the form of Rohit Sharma who scored a composed half-century. Somehow that is India’s pattern: when you least expect the team to win, it produces magical performances. India scored 153 in their 20 overs and South Africa were reeling at 27-5. India knocked South Africa out of the competition.
India made a mockery of the English batting on a track which had a lot of spin. England looked at the sweep shot as a bail-out option but it made them look ordinary. India scored a lot of psychological points over England. Is there a brown-wash on the cards for England? That is another story. Hopefully, India approaches the home series against England with a World T20 trophy in their cabinet.
That would make India the only team to reign over both the 50-over World Cup and the 20-over Cup. Hopefully, the unconventional logic which works to India’s advantage brings them the Cup. Any guesses who would play the next match for India?