Tuesday, February 24, 2015

World Cup 2015 - India Have Arrived

India's lead up into the World Cup was atrocious.

The defending champions couldn't win a single game in Australia with key batsmen misfiring, their bowling & fielding were both the absolute pits, and captain Dhoni looked as bored as ever. An easy team to write off as title favorites given this form, particularly when up against the trio of Australia-New Zealand-South Africa who seemed to have all facets of the game under control.

But in the wise words of Bill Lawry "... all of a sudden it's all happening!"

Thrashing Pakistan was no surprise...
If there is one match India will always get up for, it's the opportunity to add to the 5-0 World Cup tally of beating Pakistan every time. At times it has been regarded as more important than winning the cup itself!

The surprising element was just how calmly they went about it.  There was no Sehwag whacking Gul half volleys, Tendulkar carving Shoaib Akhtar for dinner, or Prasad destroying Sohail's stumps. This time it was all patience and precision, patiently building a foundation until the 35th over and smoothly accelerating towards the psychological 300 benchmark.

Then with the help of scoreboard pressure, India found an extra bit of mojo plucked out of nowhere with ball in hand. Even more remarkably they turned in a fielding effort that wasn't it's usual lazy standard, India were able to record a professional display to get their world cup up and running.  

But Thrashing South Africa?
Where did this come from! India did not lose any of that India-Pakistan intensity, and that too against a team widely regarded as title favorites.

Dhawan and Kohli saw off the new ball threat without losing their heads (again), and this time it was the best in the world with a Steyn-Philander-Morkel pace battery.  They made sure a strong 300 total was secured rather than aiming for a more subcontinental score of 350.  But the real surprise again was how India bowled tightly with genuine pace, how they held their catches and fielded like demons.

They even executed run-outs! Blasphemy.

They turned the World Cup favourites into chumps, they out South Africa'd South Africa.
Suddenly pool A has a new boss.

So What Does This Mean?
We now have a fourth player for the ultimate prize, the blue bandwagon is up and running. If India keep that level of high quality cricket up, they could very well go back to back here.

The already widely open World Cup has another reason to be excited, the defending champs aren't about to let the tight Kung Fu grip on their trophy be pried off anytime soon. This is particularly important with Pakistan, England and the West Indies playing like... themselves.

Bring it on Team Blue!

Contributed by : Varun Prasad
Varun’s blog : The Cricket Musings

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