England’s champion-like performance would have sent a strong signal to the rest of the teams that despite the Pietersen controversy following them they are totally focussed on going out and defending their title. It has been a super year for Britain in sports what with the successful conducting of the Olympics and Paralympics and the medals that they got there.
Those were way beyond expectations and then to top it all was Andy Murray winning the US Open Tennis title and thereby ending the long 76 years wait for a major champion in Tennis. Of course Britain is fortunate that whenever it suits they can call on the services of the Scots, Irish and the Welsh since they are part of Britain despite having separate votes in the Olympic, Commonwealth and World Football, Cricket and other sports federations.
The Afghans have shown that they have some good bowlers but the lack of experience is clear when they are hit for a four and if there is a misfield, for the shoulders drop immediately as does the pace. The Zadran duo bowl quite sharply and did make the first few overs tough for the batsmen.
England have chosen horses for courses as have Australia and so the opener Alex Hales just bided his time and then lashed out and when the underrated but also underperforming Luke Wright finally showed his ability, the Afghans had no answer or plan ‘B’ to counter that.
India of course have a wily spinner in Ashwin and his four overs are going to be vital as also those of Yuvraj Singh. Zaheer Khan has still not hit his straps and Pathan and Balaji are also relatively rusty since this is the first big tournament after a break for them.
India’s fielding has been good and that has been a big plus and they will need to be at their sharpest if they have to stop the singles being turned into twos and twos into threes. More than dropped catches it is when an extra run is conceded unnecessarily that frustrates a bowler and the skipper.
India’s batting too has its problems. Gautam Gambhir just cannot stop nibbling at the ball outside the offstump and is either getting out caught or dragging the ball onto his stumps. It is his balance at the contact point that is getting him into trouble. He is a studious player who is keen to get better and it is just a matter of mind more than technique that will make the difference. Kohli has been in sublime form and his speed between the wickets is a huge plus.
The batsmen will not have it easy if the pitch is like it was in the game between England and Afghanistan and England’s new ball bowlers will relish that surface. Thankfully it is not a knockout match but it will give India the impetus that it needs to go far in the tournament .
Professional Management Group