India’s Payback Time

Mahendra Singh Dhoni, the captain of Indian men’s Cricket team has always backed his team and more so, after the
dismal and dismissive performance against England, in England during summer. But the fortunes seem to have changed this time around as India has been playing England in India in the five One-day Internationals(ODI), having successfully won the first three games to take an unassailable lead of 3-0 and thus winning the series with two games to go.

It is commendable to note that after a tough series, the team has stayed together and have not lost the spirit to play, in fact play well. The team has moved on from the shackles of the past to reclaim their self-confidence and stature as a world-beater. This home series victory is an elixir for the ‘heavily injured’ England returned team.

The team has shown that youngsters in the team have abundant capabilities and talent to make it to the top and they can showcase their strengths and steer the team to victory even in the absence of big and experienced names like Sachin Tendulkar, Virender Sewage, Zaheer Khan, Harbhajan Singh, Yuvraj Singh and the like.

Undoubtedly, the flush of young blood has given a new perspective to the team in the international arena. The inclusion of domestic Ranji players like Ajinkya Rahane, who scored 91 in the third ODI played at Mohali sharing significant partnership (209) with Gautam Gambhir, rightly awarded the Man of the Match (MOM) for his elegant batting display.

Pacer Umesh Yadav has had a good outing with the ball with significant scalps in the first two ODIs, providing the much needed pace in the absence of Zaheer, India’s most experienced fast bowler along with Praveen Kumar at the
helm of affairs, opening the bowling with the new ball.

Vinay Kumar, who rose to limelight with his stint with Royal Challengers Bangalore in the Indian Premier League, has been providing crucial breakthroughs at important junctures during the course of the game. R. Ashwin has been spinning the Carrom ball well and tasting subsequent success by putting India’s spin department at the pinnacle of success along with good all-round performance of Ravindra Jadeja with both bat and ball, as well as part-time bowlers, including Virat Kohli.

The batting from the Indian side justified the batting line-up that the world reckons with to the excitement of the Indian fans and hence, silencing the fellow critics. The fielding has been sharp and agile adding to controlling the
flow of runs and defendable totals.

Last but not the least, the Captain has led from the front, showing immense confidence and pulling off gambles, for
instance, his promoting himself to take the centre-stage after a late charge to get his team to 300 with a smashing unbeaten 87 in the first ODI in Hyderabad and his opting to bat on a wicket that deteriorated in the evening with no dew around proved crucial in India’s return to winning ways.

The abundant calm demeanour that he shows even in the tense moments as in the third ODI, where he finished off the game with two consecutive fours with a score 35 Not Out along with Jadeja, to build up a crucial partnership, reinstates the fact that he is the best and the most trusted finisher of the game.

Even bringing in Virat Kohli to bowl between Powerplays looked spot on, fetching him the breakthrough and thus speaks loads about his captaincy and the concentration on the field that he executes viewing each game as “a new beginning and a fresh start from the scratch”, in his own words. Also, Duncan Fletcher, the coach whose first International assignment of the England series was criticised for ending up on the losing side could hardly
control his smile at the good showcasing of skills.

In all, former Cricket Captain Sourav Ganguly sums it up praising the change while having a few words of caution. In his column, ‘Dadagiri’, in the Hindustan Times, he writes, “India looked a completely different side from the one that toured England, but one should not judge this team on the basis of home performance.” For now, England would have to play spin well for pride in the last two games. As India eyes for a whitewash, this series has definitely been a redemption series- a payback time reconfirming the fact that it is hard to beat India in India.

Jayashree Narayanan