Champions Trophy: India must look to carry great form into the tournament

Tags: ICC Champions Trophy, 2013, India, Umesh Yadav, Krishnakumar Dinesh Karthik, Mahendra Singh Dhoni

Published on: Jun 05, 2013

India’s victory over Sri Lanka in the opening warm-up tie wasn’t a comfortable one. They had to work extremely hard, and only pulled away from Lanka towards the end.

India’s victory over Sri Lanka in the opening warm-up tie wasn’t a comfortable one. They had to work extremely hard, and only pulled away from Lanka towards the end. Their bowling was extremely rusty and it was only the strength in the batting line up that rescued this. Going into their second and final practice tie against defending champions Australia, India knew that they had significant improvements to make, especially in the bowling, and the top order batting. Everything did not fall into place, but yet India managed to muscle their way to victory courtesy some brilliant individual performances.

The trouble for India at the top and middle order continued. For the second game in a row, the openers Murali Vijay and Shikhar Dhawan faltered. These are not good signs for India since, in England, the openers play a crucial role in a team’s success. The low scores in the two matches would have definitely dented their confidence. Both Vijay and Dhawan aren’t experienced players at the international level so it will be interesting to see how they handle themselves when the real competition kicks off. They have the ability no doubt, but to succeed at the highest level, maturity is also key.

Rohit Sharma and Suresh Raina also did not get among the runs in the practice games, but they are much more experienced hands, and will be expected to deliver in crunch situations, Raina in particular. While there were a few worrying aspects for India from the warm-up games, mostly the signs are positive. Virat Kohli played yet another blistering knock against Sri Lanka, which led India to a close victory. Dinesh Karthik, on the other hand, has played magnificent innings, whilst looking completely at ease out in the middle. It would be foolhardy if India keep him out of the playing XI. Of course, Karthik will be expected to replicate his splendid efforts.

Skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni has rarely failed in one-dayers in recent times, and he only continued with his good work in the game against Australia, smashing the ball all around the park. The bigger plus for India though was the sensational performance of the bowlers against Australia. As mentioned at the start of the article, bowling was a definite concern for India, going into the series, something which got aggravated following their dismal showing against Sri Lanka. But against the Aussies they were top notch. Umesh Yadav showed how brilliant he can be on his day while Ishant Sharma supported him well even as the rest kept things tight.

In spite of the many positives, India cannot get carried away with their form in practice games. It will give them confidence for sure as they head into their opening clash against South Africa, which will actually kick off the Champions Trophy. But, they must ensure that all the sureness gained translates into positive results in the games that matter. Else, their great exhibition in the warm-up ties will only end up as an embarrassment in their faces.

--By A Cricket Analyst

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