Youngsters in Team India give rise to much optimism about the future

India’s youngsters came to the fore during the ICC Champions Trophy 2013 and have provided hope for the future © Getty Images

By Sarang Bhalerao

The ICC Champions Trophy 2013 triumph gives the Indian fans much ecstasy. What makes the victory sweater is the fact that youngsters came to the fore and provide optimism about the future. The relentless pursuit for a win, and the pleasure derived from each other’s success was most striking about Team India. The team played as a unit and celebrated as one.

Shikhar Dhawan played one of the most unforgettable innings in Indian cricket history against Australia on Test debut. He showed that he is here to stay with remarkable consistency, right through the Champions Trophy. Some of the shots on the off-side were mirror images of Virender Sehwag. The upper-cut was played clinically. The charge down the track to fast bowlers was not because of sudden rush of blood; it was a well though-out strategy which put the bowlers under pressure. The 363 runs in five matches he scored promises a lot in the months ahead. India might well have unearthed a future star and most certainly have solved the opening conundrum.

Rohit Sharma’s class was never in question; his temperament, however, was. After two failures in the warm-up matches it was certain that Murali Vijay would partner Dhawan. But MS Dhoni had the belief in Rohit — who was made to open. The timing was back and so was the flow and confidence. Rohit’s promotion at the top of the order proved to be a masterstroke.

Dinesh Karthik scored two back-to-back centuries in the warm-up matches and forced the selectors to include him in the playing XI. He showed his class against the West Indies when he scored an unbeaten half-century. Karthik was lost in the wilderness and was dropped from the team in 2010. But, the desire to get back to the team made him hungrier. He scored heaps of runs at the domestic level, had an impressive IPL 2013 and the twin tons in the practice games proved the adage, “Form is temporary, class is permanent.”  Karthik is a class act, make no mistake.

The Champions Trophy was yet another proof of Ravindra Jadeja’s emergence as a match-winning bowler. Jadeja doesn’t have a magic ball, nor does he have the vocabulary to rattle the opposition before the match. What he has is a fine cricketing brain. The basic tenet of his bowling is the unrelenting line around the stumps with subtle variations. It worked wonders for him in this tournament. Jadeja was Dhoni’s go-to man. And the left-armer delivered almost always. When his turn came with the bat, Jadeja played two of the most crucial innings in the competition — 47 against South Africa at Cardiff and 33 against England in the final.

The young Indian pace brigade — Umesh Yadav, Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Ishant Sharma — showed that they have it in them to win matches. What they have brought to the table is the right attitude, discipline and patience. On occasions, one of the three pace bowlers had an off-day. But, they were unruffled. They remained focused on the next ball than dwell on the past.

What also emerged from this competition was Ravichandran Ashwin’s class as a spin bowler. He bowled with a plan. He employed leg-slip, which was an attacking field. He had the chutzpah to have a slip during the Powerplay overs. An occasional six hit off his bowling didn’t rattle him. He kept coming at the batsmen. There was never an attempt to bowl a defensive line and length. It was heartening to see an occasional general dose of flight from him which is an anachronism in today’s day and age of slam-bang cricket.

India’s fielding was the most impressive aspect. The average age of the team was 26, and they moved on the field like gazelles.

The blue-chip stocks have provided good returns on investment for India. The team was always in the news for cricketing reasons. There is a hope that India will dominate the One-Day International (ODI) cricket in the years to come, especially with an astute tactician at the helm.

(Sarang Bhalerao hails from a family of doctors, but did his engineering. He then dumped a career in IT with Infosys to follow his heart and passion and became a writer with CricketCountry. A voracious reader, Sarang aspires to beat Google with his knowledge of the game! You can follow him on Twitter here)