New Delhi: It wasnt a stroll in the park at the Kotla, but Mahendra Singh Dhoni, the India captain, was still in a happy frame of mind.
Objective No.1 — to make the quarter final — had, after all, virtually been achieved courtesy three wins and a tie. The toughest test in the group stage (match against South Africa), though, is on Saturday.
India havent been defeated in World Cup 2011, which is great, but the wins havent been as convincing as they should have been.
The favourites need to play like the most fancied team. As former India captain Bishan Singh Bedi put it, the rest of the teams have to be in awe.
An exceptional brand of cricket hasnt been on view, but that may be because India are some distance away from peaking.
On Wednesday, even lowly Netherlands had their moments, particularly when India (chasing 190) slumped to 99 for four.
Understandably, there was then a sense of disbelief at the raucous Kolta.
At that stage, we had a good chance of winning... Im proud of the guys... We played pretty brave cricket, trying to defend a total which wasnt great... Indias a very good team, the Christchurch-born captain, Peter Borren, commented.
Till the other day, bowling and fielding were the areas of concern. However, the batsmen didnt come off with flying colours either.
Vice-captain Virender Sehwag and Sachin Tendulkar (first to 2,000 runs in the World Cup) got off the grid quicker than what F-1 champion Sebastian Vettel would have managed, but fell to shots which werent necessary.
Yusuf Pathan (sent at No.3), Gautam Gambhir and Virat Kohli followed and it was left to the in-form Yuvraj Singh to put the Dutch in their place. Dhoni kept him company.
Yuvraj remained not out on 51 and collected his second MoM award in four days. Earlier, in the afternoon, hed picked up two wickets.
Sehwag, it appears, wont change his game but his approach will have to be different if we are left to chase 300-plus on Saturday or in the knockout phase.
Like Dhoni, the iconic Sunil Gavaskar didnt seem worried over the shortcomings.
Its a fact that weve been stretched by Ireland and Netherlands, but Im not worried... There could be days when the top guys dont come off, but there may be days when they will... You could argue that Y bowler should have played in place of X, but thats about it, Gavaskar told The Telegraph.
Sourav Ganguly, another former India captain, maintained that hed wait for the match against South Africa before forming a judgement on the quality of the bowling.
Well, the scorecard shows that we won by five wickets, which is a positive... It was a good outing and its important to gain momentum, Dhoni remarked.
The manner in which he backed Piyush Chawla raised eyebrows, though.
At the toss, Dhoni said that the leg-spinner needed practice. Then, at the media conference, he revealed that Chawla was actually preferred over Ravichandran Ashwin as he needed the match more than the off-spinner!
Some will find that strange, to say the least, but full marks to Dhoni for being honest.