India is on top down under



Dhoni takes India to the  top down under

Says an excited Kersi Meher-Homji

What a thrill, what a cliff-hanger! The India ”“ West Indies World Cup match at WACA in Perth yesterday (6 March) was in balance till skipper MS Dhoni and Ravichandran Ashwin got together.

They still needed 49 runs to win with their top six batsmen falling to West Indies quickies on a fast WACA pitch. But Dhoni and Ashwin took them to a well-deserved victory. Now they are on top of the table in Pool B with 8 points in four matches and South Africa on 6 points in the same number of games.

The much-criticised Indian attack bowled with fire to dismiss the West Indians for 182. But for their captain Jason Holder hitting fluently, they could have been shot out for under 100. Man of the Match Mohammad Shami with his swing, cut and speed removed the West Indian openers including the man mountain Chris Gayle for 21.

Soon the Windies were 7 for 85 and looking doomed to destruction. But Holder stood firm scoring 57 at no.9 including four fours and three sixes. They managed a poor total of 182 in 44.2 overs.

A win target of 183 appeared a child’s play with India’s massive batting line up.

But not so. India lost their openers Rohit Sharma and Shikhar Dhawan for 20 and their champion batsman Virat Kohli at 63. When Ajinkya Rahane fell with India on 4 for 78, it looked bleak for India.

It appeared worse when India was 6 for 134, only Dhoni and Ashwin remaining and the Windies going haywire. Unfortunately for them, they bowled too many wides.

Dhoni quietly and efficiently took India to safety and a well-earned four wicket victory with 65 balls remaining.

At the presentation, Dhoni said, “I think it was a difficult wicket, even initially with the new ball. There was some variable bounce, it was doing a bit. It settled down later, there was some swing for the West Indies bowlers as well, with the new ball.

“Our bowlers didn’t try too much, they stuck to their line and length, it had a bit more bounce, gave quite a few wides bowling bouncers, but we also got wickets with the bouncer, so very happy with our performance.

“It is a difficult target, because you don’t know whether to go and play your shots. It was a good chance to test out lower middle order. Ashwin played well, Jadeja will have to step up, I feel. The last time we were in New Zealand, there were true wickets, we’ll have to see what kind of wickets are provided, but generally the ball comes on, there is some bounce. The grounds are small so that is one area where we will have to adjust.”

It augurs well for India. As on today, India is on top of Pool B with 8 points, followed by South Africa (6 points) and Pakistan and West Indies (4 points each). These teams have qualified for the quarter-final.

Having beaten Pakistan, South Africa, UAE and West Indies, India still has to meet weaker cricketing nations Ireland and Zimbabwe.

In the quarter-final, India will meet the no. 4 from Pool A, most probably Bangladesh. A victory will see India in the semi-final.

Will India retain the ICC cricket World Cup they had won in 2011 in Mumbai? Bit early to predict but I am more confident today than in any time in the last two years. But they will have to improve their fielding. As many as four catches were dropped in the match against the West Indies yesterday.

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