India peaks at just the right time

Last Updated: Sun, Feb 15, 2015 19:51 hrs

India achieved a string of firsts when it beat Pakistan for the sixth time in World Cups in its first league match at Adelaide.

It was India's first win in an international match on the extremely long Australia tour. You may remember that the team reached Down Under in November end last year (2014). Now it is mid-February in 2015. We drew a blank in the entire Test and ODI triangular series.

It is the first 300 in an Indo-Pak World Cup match. It is our first World Cup match win against Pakistan without the great Sachin Tendulkar. The last time we won any international match Down Under was way back in 2012.

India is peaking at the right time. The current format is such that even if you lose against the three strong teams and win against the three weak ones, you can still qualify.

Now that India has won the most important match of the league stages (Indo-Pak fans along with organizers noting ticket sales and viewership ratings will agree), we can concentrate on experimentation and getting the balance of the team right.

We won by 76 runs and we have taken a good start on the Net Run Rate. What a time for everyone to start clicking!

Suresh Raina is a great IPL player and ODI batsman in Indian conditions. He has been a big flop outside the sub-continent though. He has rectified that in the nick of time. He scored 100 off 74 balls in an ODI in England last year and 74 off 56 at Adelaide in the latest match. Like the team, he is peaking at the right time. Virat Kohli is in sizzling form with a fine century. This comes after flopping both in the England ODI series and the Australia triangular series. He was man of the match and is a big match player.

What about Shikhar Dhawan? He has been in woeful form and there have been clamours to drop him and he has come back with a 76-ball 73.

Finally there's Dhoni who's the ultimate big match player. You can always count on him from the quarters onwards.

The bowling has been beleaguered, but in our pace attack, Mohammed Shami and Umesh Yadav took six wickets between them.Ravichandran Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja may not be clicking in Tests, but the ODI scene is totally different.

Our bowling has never had a tearaway quick like say Dale Steyn, but they have delivered in many big tournaments.

Dhoni may have totally lost it in overseas Tests, but he still has it within him in the ODI/T20 formats when it comes to captaincy.

Whether it is Joginder Sharma in the 2007 T20 World Cupfinal or getting Rohit Sharma to fire after 6 mediocre years or getting Ishant Sharma to strike in the 2013 Champions Trophy final or getting a decent 2-35 from Mohit Sharma in the Pakistan match at Adelaide, Dhoni knows how to get the best out of his team.

A lot of the bookies had given India and Australia equal odds to win the World Cup at the beginning of the tournament. While Australia definitely has the home advantage, that is the only advantage they have got.

In Tests in Australia we lost the last two series 0-4 and 0-2.

From 2008, India and Australia have played 10 ODI matches which were not finals and won an abysmal 2 of them.

But when it comes to "knockout" matches, the story is totally different.

India and Australia have played two finals in Australia in the last 7 years and India has won both of them!

While Australia may have won three straight ODI World Cups from 1999-2007, after that India have been on the ascendancy. We beat them in the semi-finals of the 2007 T20 World Cup, the finals of the 2008 Australian triangular and the quarter-finals of the 2011 ODI World Cup.

This Indian team doesn't take pressure. Once the knockout stage starts in this tournament, we will become firm favourites.

From 2011-15, India has won the ODI World Cup, the ICC Champions Trophy and the ODI No. 1 ranking crown.

We can definitely back them to get one more World Cup!

The author is a Bengaluru-based journalist and blogger. He blogs at here

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