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Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Tri-Series Cricket: India Do The Improbable! Now Wait, Watch and Pray!


A divided, devastated and demoralized team accomplished the impossible today at Hobart in the 11th ODI of the Commonwealth Bank Cricket Tri-Series in Australia. It was an improbable technicality, but finally it became a roaring reality.

Miserable Team India had been losing the tosses too apart from the games, but today they won the toss and skipper Dhoni elected to field first without any hesitation as India wanted the exact target before them and needed to chase it down within forty overs to win the bonus which could alone keep them alive in the tournament.

The story was no different with listless bowling and fielding by the Indians and Sri Lanka making merry from the very start. Dilshan and Sangakkara had their centuries in quick time and a total in excess of 300 runs looked possible. Sri Lanka amassed a huge 320 runs for 4 wickets in allotted fifty overs. Facing a target of 321 runs to chase down within forty overs and an asking rate of 8 runs per over India seemed ready to be kicked out of the tournament.

From hereon the story was different and it was a story you had never witnessed in this tournament. Team India put up a fight. For the first time the openers Tendulkar and Sehwag gave the team a fiery start scoring the first 50 runs in just 33 balls. At the personal score of 30 Sehwag got out, but the dream chase continued. Next to go was Tendulkar at 39 with the run-rate nearly 10 per over.

Then evolved the partnership of the day between Gambhir and Virat Kohli yielding 115 precious runs and most importantly the momentum was kept going. Never for a moment had they lost track of the target irrespective of how impossible it could have sounded at the start. ‘Youngster’ Virat Kohli finally delivered the innings of his life playing an incredible knock of 133 runs not out off just 86 balls. After Gambhir’s run-out for 63 Raina joined in and with Kohli they robbed 24 runs in the 35th over bowled by no other than the feared Malinga. And, the miracle win was achieved in 36.4 overs. India won by 7 wickets with a bonus point. This was the fourth highest run-chase ever by India and could very well be the fastest run-chase above 300 runs in one-day cricket history. Skipper Dhoni gave full credit to his ‘seniors’ for giving a quickfire start that made the run-chase possible. Kohli was the unanimous choice for the Player of the Match award. Scorecard.

Now it’s going to wait, watch and pray till the last league match between Australia and Sri Lanka on 2nd March. If Aus beat SL India will be in the finals. What about the mind games involved here! Sri Lanka must find themselves a bit unnerved today getting beaten after scoring the highest total of the tournament. Australia on the other hand would consider Team India a better opponent in the finals for its known obliging nature and for its glorious ability to capitulate anytime. But Aus and SL are teams that always aim to win and never give in to external pressure. You can get ready for a treat of a charged semi-final.

India never deserved to be in the finals. But today they have demonstrated a kind of a resurgence sorely missed all these days. Maybe if they get into the finals they can be a changed team altogether.

Meantime the Indian cricket selectors have their job cut out to announce the one-day team tomorrow for the forthcoming Asia Cup in Bangladesh.  On whom should the axe fall—the ‘seniors’ or some of the ‘youngsters’ or the captain or the vice-captain? And from where at all they are going to find the replacements?


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