Team India needs to play to its strength and do so BY CHOICE
The defending champions and favourites by virtue of their sheer dominance over more than a decade, Australia finally brought out the best in Team India. Dhoni’s boys looked charged up, didn’t give away loose deliveries, produced an unprecedented fielding display and perhaps more importantly their batting didn’t collapse once the Messiah walked back to the pavilion after giving India a solid platform. A rejuvenated Yuvraj has risen from the ashes this World Cup and it was his immaculately paced innings along with the Indian think-tank’s sagacious move to pick Raina over Yusuf Pathan on a difficult wicket that saw India home and ensured we have a new World Champion since Sri Lanka lifted the trophy in 1996, the last time ICC’s quadrennial extravaganza was held in the sub continent. There is no doubt, the Indian team still has its weaknesses or at least rough edges to smoothen out but they have their strengths and that’s why despite much skepticism they were billed as one of the tournament favourites. However, to emulate Kapil’s Devils Dhoni’s men would have to play to their strengths and do so by choice as it won’t happen for them by chance every time.
1. If batting is your strength, CHASE:
We have heard so much about ours being the most destructive batting line up with all sorts of statistics pulled up to support it. If that is the case then why don’t we chase? Why leave your weak bowling attack to seal your fate. Of course it is tough to chase, because of pressure. But hang on, when batting first, pressure gets to them even more simply because they are clueless about what score their bowlers can successfully defend. So why wait for Dhoni to lose the toss, for the opposition to bat first; bat second of your own volition and let your much haloed batting line up come up with the goods and there is absolutely no reason why they cannot. There is an unbelievable combination of exquisite hand-eye coordination, temperament, technique, timing and raw power in that line-up, all the ingredients required to chase down the most daunting of targets.
2. Dhoni: helicopter or heave: Be aggressive
There has been a marked change in Dhoni’s approach to batting since he became captain. There is an increasing tendency to play a patient, mature innings. But there are people like Gambhir and Kolhi in the side, who are ideal to play the sheet anchor. Why shirk away from your strengths, being aggressive, playing unorthodox shots, upsetting the bowlers’ rhythm and take them to cleaners. Dhoni is too big a character to let a World Cup slip by, waking up one morning to realize the World Cup is over and he didn’t get a chance to express himself. So it’s time he backed his instincts and once again played to his strengths.
3. Use power-plays when it suits your team most:
The introduction of the batting power-play into the one day game was another chink in the armour for the batters in a game where bat overwhelmingly dominates the ball. However, quite inexplicably, India have struggled to use them, in fact, it has proved to be their bane thanks to some never-seen-before self destruction. There is absolutely no necessity to follow a general trend of saving up the powerplay for the death overs. When there were no powerplays, teams with wickets in hand would go gung-ho in the final overs anyway. If Sachin and Sehwag are on fire in the first 15, extend it to 20, take the game away from the opposition in the first quarter of the game itself. If a team relies on part-timers to finish a quota of the fifth bowler, a timely powerplay can result in the front line bowlers finishing up their quota of ten, before the final overs. So, go hell for the leather at the death and take the part-timers to be cleaners. Once again, read the situation and use them to your strength.
Particularly against non subcontinent teams, simply bamboozle them with spin:
It’s no secret we don’t have a second pacer. Sreesanth and Nehra have been brilliant in the past but are out of form and are too unpredictable to rely upon. Munaf supposedly bowls 5 slow balls and a very slow ball each over and on a typical sub continent pitch where the ball comes on to the bat, he will be smacked to all corners of the park. So why not spin them out. Ashwin has done well. He doesn’t have much variation but for the mysterious Mendis-esque carom ball, but the very fact that teams are facing him for the first team will do the trick for Team India at least for the World Cup. I would stick out my neck and say gamble with Piyush Chawla. Anyways Munaf’s ten is completed partially by part-timers. Chawla has a knack of picking up wickets and the googly in his arsenal, particularly if doesn’t overdo it can catch the best in the world off guard. Piyush in short bursts could just be the last piece in the jigsaw puzzle that makes India invincible despite being handicapped in the bowling department by playing to their strengths depending on the situation.