Of all the teams that have displayed their skills at the Champions Trophy this year, India have looked by far the most impressive. Against South Africa, they dominated from the word go, and, in the end, won comfortably. In their second clash against West Indies on Tuesday at the Kennington Oval they were even more dominating. Both with the bat and the ball they completed outplayed the West Indians. In the field as well, India exhibited the dynamism expected of a top side in world cricket. There is no reason why they shouldn’t make it at least to the finals of the Champions Trophy this time.
The most striking aspect of India’s performance in the series thus far has been the confidence they have displayed in their ability, which had been missing in the last couple of seasons. A change in personal has definitely reflected in their shift in fortunes. The decision to draft in Shikhar Dhawan has been one that has made unexpected impact. For nearly two years, India had been opening with two nonperforming big names. But Dhawan’s entry has signaled the end for at least one of them. With two tons in two games thus far, the left-hander has looked irrepressible.
Dhawan apart, there have been other alterations in the side that have also worked in the team’s favour. The smart decision to promote Rohit Sharma as opener has done wonders to the youngster, who has now notched up three half-centuries at the position. Unlike while batting down the order, Sharma has looked a lot more settled while opening the innings. One of the reasons for the same is that he gets enough time to get his eye in coming in at the start. India will definitely hope that Sharma continues to prosper at the top of the order, if anything he goes on to get bigger scores.
With Sachin Tendulkar out of the picture in the ODIs, Dinesh Karthik has got another opportunity to resurrect his one-day career. In the warm up games as well as in the match against West Indies, he has given enough indications that he is a much improved and mature player now. One man who has been extraordinarily brilliant in recent times has been Ravindra Jadeja. He has made serious contributions in this series as well. Against South Africa, he came up with a cameo to ensure that India ended up with a match-winning total and against the Windies, he singlehandedly dismissed half the side.
If there is one area of concern for India, it is definitely their death-overs bowling. There are yet to figure out who is the best choice for the last few overs when the batsmen go on an all-out attack. The fact that West Indies managed to bludgeon the Indians for over 50 runs in the last four overs in spite of losing nine wickets is definitely an ominous sign, one they shouldn’t take lightly. Umesh Yadav and Ishant Sharma have struggled to show any sort of control in the end overs while Bhuvneshwar Kumar is too young to be expected to do the role. This is one area that opponents can exploit.
--By A Cricket Analyst