Subash Jayaraman is the founder of ClearCricket “a collaborative cricket opinions site”
Ashwin, R. Essentially, he played the role of third seamer by coming in to bowl in the powerplays. A bit of a puzzle why he wasn’t picked ahead of Sreesanth in the finals. Also: Akmal, Umar, whose dismissal pretty much guaranteed that India will be going through to the finals in Mumbai.
Batting Powerplays. India had a lousy time in the preliminary stages of the tournament trying to take advantage of the batting powerplays, resulting in collapses. Eventually, they figured it out and played these powerplays as well as they could in the knockout stages.
Captaincy. I mentioned during the preview of the India-Pakistan semifinal match that one significant edge that India hold over every other team is that they have Dhoni and the others don’t. Dhoni made a lot of crucial decisions, most of them right and was frank about it when it was wrong. Stepped up in the clutch and scored a marvelous 91 in the finals.
Dhoni, M.S. Mr. Calmness Personified. He displayed the remarkable ability to absorb the pressure at all times and remained even keel. Promoted himself up the order to maintain right-left combination in the finals. Knowledge of Murali’s doosra intimately from his IPL time and to provide protection for Yuvraj who has a bit of a tough time starting off against spinners. Also, see above.
Experience. Of the 2003 WC finals. The left over from that team: Tendulkar, Sehwag, Zaheer and Harbhajan. Except for Sehwag, the other three did not have a good game either back then. It was imperative that they needed to win this trophy to erase nightmares from March 23, 2003.
Fielding. India’s fielding was roundly mocked as being “geriatric”. But they decided to kick it up many notches during the knock out stages and especially in the Finals. Their display in the Finals game was absolutely the best I have seen them in years.
Gautam Gambhir. Slowly is becoming the Rahul Dravid of this new generation of Indian players. Consistent, absorbs pressure and delivers when it matters the most. Some talk of him as the future captain of the team.
Harbhajan Singh. Did not play the role of lead spinner in the team very well. Provided two of the most important breakthroughs of the tournament for India – Umar Akmal in Semifinals and Dilshan in the finals, both of them bowled.
India. The home field factor. Playing all its knock-out matches in India in front of a full house of adoring fans surely had to have some effect.
Jeff Crowe. By goofing up the toss in the finals, perhaps, the elder Crowe put some additional motivation for Dhoni, as if he needed any more. Also, directly led to SL choosing to bat first and having their spinners contend with the dew factor, which diminished their effectiveness a little.
Kirsten, Gary. Joining the Indian team as coach following the epic drama in Sydney 2008, he has, in company of excellent support staff and a thoughtful captain, has turned this team of talent individuals in to consistent performers. It will be hard to replace him.
Loss. To South Africa. One of the two blemishes during this tournament, the other being the England Tie. Perhaps this was the moment when Dhoni decided not to shuffle the middle order and drop Kohli down and push Yusuf Pathan up.
Mike Horn. This South African explorer was brought in to give pep talks on handling the burden of expectations etc., to the Indian team before the world cup and spent time with them during the knock out stages as well. Many players acknowledged his role after the finals, including Tendulkar. Also: Munaf Patel, for stepping up to replace the injured Praveen Kumar and performing quite well.
Nehra, Ashish. Was a controversial pick ahead of the popular pick Ashwin, for the semifinal clash. Dhoni admitted that he had read the pitch wrong and picked Nehra over Ashwin. But Nehra came through brilliantly with a 2/33 in his quota of 10 overs versus Pakistan. Unfortunate to miss out on the finals due to a finger fracture he picked up while going for a very tough catch in the semis.
Order, Batting. Dhoni tried a few things in the preliminary stages with it – Shifting and Shuffling, but then settled, eventually for the knock out stages.
Paddy Upton. Team India’s mental conditioning coach. Another South African who helped out the Indian cause.
Quarterfinal match vs. Australia. For many Indian fans, this is the moment that put India firmly on course to the World Cup trophy. Exorcising the demons of Johannesburg 2003 and wiping the slate clean, withstanding a beautiful ton by Ponting and the lower middle order stepping up to finish the job, provided ample confidence to the fans and the team that they can do it all.
Raina, Suresh. Did not play a game till the last of the preliminary round matches, versus the West Indies and failed. Dhoni surprised many by still picking him for the QF. Played a vital innings of 30-odd to propel India in to the Semis. His fielding, along with Kohli’s, inspired the entire team.
Sehwag, Virender. Opened the World cup with a bang. A humongous and imperious 175. Publicly admitted the opening game vs Bangladesh was revenge match for 2007 ignominy. He promised he will try to bat for 50 overs. Didn’t happen except for the 45 overs stint vs. Bangladesh. Still finished in the top 10 highest run getters and provided some valuable quick runs against Australia and Pakistan.
Tendulkar, Sachin. FINALLY, Won the big one! Even though did not have a major impact on the finals, ended up being the team’s highest run getter in the tournament, and second overall with 482 runs. The Indian team made the winning of the trophy “For Sachin” its mantra and made it happen. Also, Twirl of the Bat.
UDRS and Umpires. ICC decided to introduce UDRS in the WC but without the Hotspot and Snicko technologies, which make the UDRS only applicable to LBW decisions, essentially. Teams had a success rate of 20% in overturning the calls. The 2.5 m rule was added prior to the tournament and fudged with as the tournament got along. Some obvious nicks and LBWs still went unturned due to the lack of completeness of UDRS. Many fans and teams came away from this world cup knowing that, “You never mess with Dar and Taufel”
Virat Kohli. Along with Raina, formed a brilliant cover region cordon. Played very sensibly in the QF and Finals, coming at the fall of Tendlkar’s wicket both times. Provided the quote of the tournament – “He (Tendulkar) has carried the burden of the nation for the last 21 years. It’s about time we carried him on our shoulders.” This kid is going places.
West Indies Collapse. If not for the collapse cricket by WI, India would’ve played SL in the quarterfinal and faced Aus/Pak in the finals. Instead, they beat the Aussies, got in to peak form, rode it out all the way to the win.
Xerox. As in, the template used by India to chase down Sri Lanka in the final, was almost an exact copy of the 1996 world cup final win of Sri Lanka against the Aussies. Two early wickets, consolidation, captain plays a pivotal role and guides them to a win.
Yuvraj Singh. I predicted (more along the lines of hope, actually) that Yuvraj would be India’s “Ace in the hole”. Even the ardent supporters of Yuvraj would not have seen the “Man of the Tournament” trophy coming his way. He started slow and scratchy, but got back to his usual self. Played the role of 5th bowler quite well, picking off 13 wickets and as the tournament went on, his fielding also hit top form. Safe to say, without Yuvraj, India does not win this trophy.
Zaheer Khan. Best left arm pace bowler in the business and easily, the best pace bowler in this tournament. (No disrespect to Dale Steyn, Umar Gul and Brett Lee). He was brilliant with both the old ball and new ball. Gave India the breakthroughs every time Dhoni called upon him. Single handedly turned the India-England around. Bowled a dream opening spell in the World cup final, starting off with 3 maidens. Finished the tournament as joint highest wicket taker. Respect.
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