Collective effort, secret behind India's rampage

Collective effort, secret behind India's rampage

Team unearths multiple heroes

Collective effort, secret behind India's rampage

Shikhar Dhawan, at fifth position, is the only batsman from India among the top-10 run-getters in this World Cup while Mohammad Shami, at third, is the only Indian bowler among the top-10 wicket takers. Yet, MS Dhoni and his merry band have reeled off seven successive wins en route their way to the semifinals.

The whole has never been greater than the sum of its parts when it comes to India’s campaign in this edition. The defending champions have managed to unearth a new hero almost every match with the bat and the ball as well. Virat Kohli was the anchor while Suresh Raina was the enforcer against Pakistan.

Shikhar Dhawan and Ajinkya Rahane performed similar roles in the match against South Africa. Raina and Dhoni joined together to save India the blushes against Zimbabwe while Rohit Sharma rose to the occasion in the quarterfinal against Bangladesh and shaped India’s win with a matured ton.    

An equally heart-warming show from the bowlers has enabled India to script one dominant win after another. R Ashwin may not have taken a bucketful of wickets but he has seldom bowled better in one-dayers, sustaining the pressure created by the pacers with an attacking off-spin bowling. Shami, Umesh Yadav and Mohit Sharma have formed a lethal attack by skilfully mixing pace, swing and bouncers.

With 42 wickets between them, the three form one of the finest pace units in this tournament where India have bowled out all their opponents. That the South African pace attack -- that has in its ranks the likes of Dale Steyn, Morne Morkel, Vernon Philander, Kyle Abbott and Wayne Parnell – has managed only 38 wickets so far puts the Indian pacers’ performance in right perspective.

“It's the most important thing,” Dhoni noted when pointed out about India throwing up new heroes every match. “You go into any team meeting, the batsmen's meeting, and everyone says that if you get a start, you have to make sure it's a big score. If a couple of wickets fall, make sure you build a partnership with the incoming batsman so that the lower-order doesn’t face much pressure. So far our team has done this very well. Whoever has got a start has converted it. We have done this with the bowling as well. If you look at the fast bowlers, it's not that one single bowler is taking all the wickets.

“All three of them have done well together. As far as the spinners go, you can't judge their performance by the wickets they have taken. The way they have created and maintained the pressure - because of which the fast bowlers have been able to get wickets - their role in the middle overs has been crucial,” he explained.

Just a few days before the tournament commenced, India couldn’t as much buy a win. The Test series was hard fought and with some luck it could have been drawn also but at the end of the day the fact remains that India lost it 2-0. A far meeker exhibition marked the tri-series, involving Australia and England.

Injuries did prevent them from fielding a first-choice 11 but that’s only half the story. None of their top-order batsmen looked the part while bowlers were all over the place. The turn-around in fortunes may appear dramatic for its sheer suddenness but Dhoni pointed out to the process where the team management stressed more on the journey rather than the destiny itself.

“Bowlers have learnt a lot out of the tri-series, and also from the away tours,” Dhoni began. “We were in New Zealand and we didn't win single game there, but still what I felt was that the players were learning about what really needs to be done, and what they are doing now is a reflection of all of that. At times people get too worked up about winning, but what's more important is, the bowlers or the batsmen, they have to learn what to do so that they can consistently win outside.

I feel to some extent it's a reflection of learning of all those tools, the difficult phase that we all went through, and after that you can say this is the fruitful period for us where everything has clicked. People are taking responsibility; if the openers are not scoring somebody else's scoring, but at the end of the day we are putting runs on the board, and when we are supposed to defend a total, we have done that also. Overall, it has been good so far. We want to continue with it in the coming games,” he analysed.

India are just two wins away from becoming only the third team after the West Indies and Australia to successfully defend the title and if their whole continues to be greater than the sum of its parts, then there is no reason why they can’t do a Mumbai encore.
  

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