Dhaka: Instead of inspiring compatriots with his play “fearlessly” call, Imran Khan’s thoughts had a positive effect on India!
Even if India weren’t fearless in their World T20 opener against Pakistan, Mahendra Singh Dhoni and his men certainly held nerve and were bold.
Pakistan were all nerves, particularly while batting on a wicket which probably wasn’t comfort-giving either.
Usually, a job well begun is half done, but if that’s stretching it a bit in the context of a major tournament, India can take plenty of confidence from the muscular seven-wicket win over Pakistan.
More than anything else, momentum matters, so India have straightaway ticked a key box.
Lest one forgets, Pakistan’s wait to beat India in either the World Cup or the World T20 has got extended.
It’s a mindset issue, perhaps.
Had India not dropped two catches, Dhoni would have termed the outcome as a “perfect win.” But he did say it was a “fantastic” match.
It’s nice to have high standards. It’s nicer when they’re maintained.
Leggie Amit Mishra, whose only other T20 International had been in Zimbabwe four years ago, made the most of a rare opportunity. Figures of two for 22 gave him the MoM award.
As important as Mishra’s wickets were the 10 dot balls in his quota of overs.
“I think positively, listen to the captain and the coaches... I look to learn... It’s disappointing not to play regularly, but I have faith in my abilities,” Mishra, often a passenger, said.
Asked if he had a “funda,” Mishra was prompt in answering: “It’s to believe in myself and look to exploit weaknesses in batsmen... My strength is to flight the ball and to get it to spin. At this level, you need a big heart.”
Mishra praised the IPL, not forgetting that the inaugural edition, in 2008, had helped him make an India comeback.
“Tips” from Dhoni played a significant role in Mishra’s rather stunning performance.
In fact, Pakistan captain Mohammed Hafeez praised Mishra for his effort, which restricted the 2009 champions to 130 for seven, around 25-30 short of a solid total.
“Apni batting pressure mein aa jati hai... I don’t know why, but whether we bat first or second, it’s invariably under pressure,” one-time spearhead Shoaib Akhtar told The Telegraph.
Opener Kamran Akmal was run out in the second over and Pakistan never recovered.
That Dhoni gave the first over to Ravichandran Ashwin, who’d been hammered by Shahid Afridi in the last over of the Asia Cup clash earlier this month, seemed to have surprised Pakistan.
As a move, it was smart.
Dhoni did well with the toss too, winning the one which counted. Not wanting to risk the dew factor, he inserted Pakistan.
It’s another matter that dew didn’t become a big player on Friday.
Under pressure as the group includes reigning champions the West Indies and Australia, Hafeez maintained there were “positives” for his team.
It’s unlikely anybody would agree, though.
India finished with visible pluses —a 50-plus partnership between Rohit Sharma and Shikhar Dhawan right at the top, another strong performance from comeback man Suresh Raina and, of course, Mishra’s bowling.
Yuvraj Singh, however, had a poor match. The most expensive buy in last month’s auction for IPL VII (and beyond) dropped a catch, went for runs in his solitary over and fell for one.
Already out of favour where Tests and ODIs are concerned, Yuvraj must quickly stand up to be counted.
The team management, after all, may not give a reasonable run.
India’s next match, against the West Indies, is on Sunday.