MS Dhoni with the T20 World Cup trophy and the ICC World Cup trophy © Getty Images
MS Dhoni with the T20 World Cup trophy and the ICC World Cup trophy © Getty Images

 

By Vincent Sunder

 

What matters at the end is winning. A win absolves any weakness or shortcoming that was pertinent until that point. An Indian cricketing win absolves a sinner of all misdeeds and converts him to a saint. An Indian cricketing win instantly converts a pauper into a millionaire.

 

The Indian batting was rated as a strong line-up, and the problems for the Indian camp was not whom to play but whom to leave out from the batting line-up. Hearts did beat when the bowling line-up was looked at; the inclusion of Piyush Chawla was questioned and ridiculed, and  Shantakumaran Sreesanth’s replacement for an injured Praveen did nothing to put the Indian heart at ease or comfort.

 

The league stage for India threw up plenty of worrisome questions on the batting front. Batting collapses from a position of strength, when they were posed to bat opposition out of the game, and also the lack of runs from skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni himself were key concerns.

 

Group B was the tougher of the two groups, and it was ironical that only one Group B side went into the last four, whilst the relatively easier Group A saw three sides move into the last four. Sri Lanka came into the final with relatively comfortable wins over New Zealand and England.

 

Even a biased script writer couldn’t have put together a better scenario for India in the knock-out stage. India had to put away the Aussie challenge built on a fine return-to-form hundred from Ponting; then overcome a batting failure by bowling a steady line and fielding brilliantly against Pakistan, two aspects of the game that was not seen as their strengths.

 

Battle hardened India were clearly favorites at Wankhede, and deservingly so. The fielding and bowling stifled Sri Lanka at the start. Sri Lanka missed the “Colombo Comfort” at the start as the most successful opening pair in this tournament struggled against Zaheer Khan on a wicket very different from the Premadasa pitch. Zaheer’s fine line was supported by the fleet footed off-side arc of Yuvraj Singh, Suresh Raina and Virat Kohli.  The magnificence of Mahela Jayawardene kept Sri Lanka in the game, and the batting powerplay blaze took them to a score that could have been defended.

 

Champion sides get out of troublesome situations, and India did that precisely after the Lasith Malinga twin strikes sent back Virender Sehwag and Sachin Tendulkar quite early in the innings. While Gautam Gambhir put his best performance of the tournament with the bat, Dhoni read the situation to absolute perfection. His decision to promote himself was a brave one, taking responsibility in the most crucial moment of the tournament. Dhoni’s innings was an intelligent and well measured knock. He settled in with his first 12 runs taking 21 balls, after which he switched gears. The next 38 runs to reach his 50 took 31 balls, after which he nailed the Sri Lankan coffin with his last 41 runs comings off just 27 deliveries.

 

Dhoni success story as a captain has been phenomenal: Leading India to a T-20 World Cup win, leading the Chennai Super Kings (CSK)  to victory in the Indian Premier League triumph in 2010, leading India to the No 1 position in Test cricket and now leading India to a 50-over World Cup win after 28 years! 

 

Yenga thalai Dhoniyukk periya whistle adiyungo!  (Put in a big whistle for our leader Dhoni!) runs Chennai Super Kings (CSK) theme song in Tamil. Perhaps that should now become Indian cricket’s theme song as well!

 

(Vincent Sunder aspired to play Test cricket, but had to struggle to play ‘gully’ cricket! He managed a league side to title triumph in the KSCA tournaments. He was debarred from umpiring in the gully games after he once appealed vociferously for a caught-behind decision when officiating as an umpire! After two decades in the corporate sector, he became an entrepreneur with the objective of being able to see cricket matches on working days as well.  Vincent gets his ‘high’ from cricket books and cricket videos and discussing cricket)