The Telegraph
Monday , March 24 , 2014
CIMA Gallary

Indians take big strides towards a semis berth
- Dhoni’s men sweat just a little in downing champions WIndies

Amit Mishra (centre) celebrates with captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni and Rohit Sharma, after dismissing Dwayne Bravo, in Dhaka, on Sunday. (AP)

Dhaka: The first match had edge-of-the-seat stuff in plenty, with Pakistan holding off Australia’s challenge; the second saw India sweat just a little in downing the West Indies, the defending champions.

Sunday’s World T20 double-header didn’t produce uniformity in the quality of cricket, but points were definitely scored. And missed.

From India’s perspective, Mahendra Singh Dhoni and his men have taken big strides towards a semi-final berth. That’s target No.1 for the 2007 champions.

With Rohit Sharma (62 not out) and Virat Kohli (54) dominating at will, it seemed India would get to the target of 130 with overs to spare. That didn’t happen, thereby reducing the West Indies’ agony.

Strangely, India managed only 16 runs from overs 17-19. Then, instead of finishing it off, Yuvraj Singh, who sadly doesn’t look the champion of old, fell in the final over.

India won with two balls to spare. Hopefully, this won’t come back to haunt if things actually get tight later on.

Amit Mishra (two for 18) collected his second MoM award in successive matches, but no less significant was young Bhuvneshwar Kumar’s effort.

In fact, as a unit, the bowlers are exhibiting sharp teeth. This alone has lifted the profile of the team.

Launching the attack, Bhuvneshwar recorded an astounding 16 dot balls in his three-over spell, that too bowling to Chris Gayle and Dwayne Smith, arguably the hottest opening pair in T20s.

Kamaal ki bowling... Bhuvi just put the brakes on with a superb show of swing... I wish he gets stronger and quicker. He’ll then be more difficult to handle,” former India captain Kapil Dev told The Telegraph.

Kapil, who’d been rather sceptical of the India attack, also praised Mishra. “The ball is coming out faster and he’s not afraid of flighting it... He’s made the difference.”

Smiling, Kapil added: “Now, with the bowlers looking good, the path to the next round is bound to get easy.”

Dhoni, who was given credit by Mishra after getting the MoM award against Pakistan (on Friday), said he’d asked the leg-spinner to bowl to his strengths — flight and turn.

Mishra, who’d been feeling a “bit of nerves,” according to Dhoni, responded beautifully.

Confidence, clearly, can do wonders.

Teammates have been making headlines, but mention must be made of Dhoni’s captaincy.

Unlike against Pakistan, Dhoni didn’t open with Ravichandran Ashwin. Questions may be asked as to why he gave the last over to Ravindra Jadeja and not Bhuvneshwar or Mohammed Shami, but he kept the batsmen guessing with bowling changes.

Mind games have become an integral part of today’s sport.

Full marks to Dhoni off the field, too, for backing Yuvraj.

“Yuvraj is the best player in T20s... Having been dropped from the ODIs, it’s tough for him... He’s under some pressure... It’s easy to say this is a short format and he should go and express himself, but he needs a few matches to adjust...

“We’re hoping that Yuvraj gets back his flow, gets into rhythm... He’s a match-winner,” Dhoni maintained, candidly and sympathetically.

Those words will calm Yuvraj. In any case, India’s next match, against Bangladesh, is on Friday.