ICC Champions Trophy: India’s performances make them overwhelming favourites

Victory in the ICC Champions Trophy 2013 may just be the tonic Indian cricket needs © Getty Images

By Dhananjay Devasper

Indian cricket was in a siege when Mahendra Singh Dhoni arrived in England. The team built a protective wall around itself to insulate itself from the negativity arising out of the spot-fixing and betting issues in the Indian Premier League (IPL).  But adversity brings out the best in champions and India have unmistakably shown that quality thus far in the ongoing ICC Champions Trophy 2013.

Right from the start of the tournament they have emerged as a dominant force. Whether it was chasing down over 300 runs against Sri Lanka and decimating Australia in the warm-up matches, or putting up an emphatic display of some top-class cricket in the group stages, the Indian team has risen like a phoenix to emerge as favourites going into the semis.

In Rohit Sharma and Shikhar Dhawan, they have discovered a fearless opening pair — and a very productive one at that. At the top of the order, two century partnerships and Rohit Sharma rediscovering form should allow Dhoni to breathe a little easier as far as the team’s opening woes are concerned. And isn’t it ironic that Rohit Sharma should suddenly find his calling as an opener, very similar to Sachin Tendulkar? After all he was touted to replace Tendulkar a while ago, but he never let his performances match his talent.

Dhawan is proving to be a class act. Two consecutive centuries, which were a mixture of caution, aggression and some audacious strokeplay, have firmly put the spotlight on him. He has a confident swagger of someone who is ultra-confident, yet not cocky. Indian fans will be praying for him to continue in this vein in their quest for the trophy.

It almost seems that no discussion on the Indian cricket team will be complete nowadays without discussing ‘Sir’ Ravindra Jadeja, who has quite clearly given his captain huge options by his abilities as a wicket-taking bowler. He has been brought on when the going has been rough for India and he has responded with crucial breakthroughs. And he’s brilliant on the field as well — one of the best in the world.

The bowling, however, continues to be a bit worrisome and could be India’s Achilles’ heel in the semi-finals or final. Ishant Sharma and Umesh Yadav continue to leak runs at crucial junctures in the game, giving the opposition a sniff of a chance to pull themselves back in the game. Bhuvneshwar Kumar, with his medium-pace, is surprisingly the best among the three seamers. In the first two group matches it was the spinners who swung the match in India’s favour, when it looked like the opposition had the measure of India’s bowling.

But the biggest surprise of the tournament has to be India’s fielding which has got the kind of attention that is normally reserved for teams like South Africa and Australia. Young, athletic fielders like Virat Kohli, Jadeja, Rohit Sharma, Suresh Raina, Dinesh Karthik and Dhawan have made India the best fielding side in the tournament.

Victory in the Champions Trophy tournament may just be the tonic Indian cricket needs to ward off the negativity of the IPL.

Stay tuned…

(Dhananjay Devasper is an “IT guy” by profession and a sports fanatic at heart. He has an unbridled passion for sports and Indian achievements in sport. Extremely opinionated, he attempts offering perspectives around sports which are simple to understand and easy to relate with)