It was a hard-fought win for India against Ireland, but there were a few positives to take away from this game, which will stand them in good stead for the tougher matches ahead. Lets look at the India-Ireland match in some detail.
India in the field
First of all, it was nice to see Dhoni get it right with his call of bowling first on winning the toss. As I had mentioned in the preview, India's best chance for this match was in bowling first and restricting Ireland to a chase-able total and using the strong and deep batting lineup to get to the target. They did just that. It was also nice to see India give Yusuf Pathan the ball as early as the 4th over. So they still did not open with spin, but at least introduced spin very early in the game to take the pace off the ball on the slow afternoon wicket.
I wanted to see Ashwin get a chance in this game and in hindsight, I am sure Dhoni also must be thinking that this would have been a good move. Well, Ashwin for the next game now looks a certainty. Piyush looks down on confidence at this point, and that is affecting his bowling. He is giving away too many runs and is not even using his googly, which is his wicket-taking delivery, that well. So a break will do him good and will be definitely better for the team. Harbhajan bowled well, and looked like taking a wicket, at least in his first spell, but they played him out cautiously. Zaheer bowled well as usual, and his delivery to take out the opener was fantastic, a dream ball and wicket for any left-armer. Munaf bowled ok, I thought he could have bowled a bit better and tried out a few variations in his length. The fringe bowlers, like Munaf, Ashwin, Nehra, should use these 2 games against lesser sides, to try out any variations in the middle. For example, it would have been nice for Munaf and India if he had tried out a few yorkers and bouncers, just to mix it up and get the confidence to bowl them in bigger games. As I have mentioned, Munaf is a little predictable and could go for runs against bigger sides and needs to try out a few variations so that the batsmen cannot predict where he will bowl.
Yuvraj, I have always mentioned, is a key component in this World Cup for India with the ball. He proved me right today and bowled very well. He is becoming a very useful bowler because he is able to think while bowling and bowls according to pitch conditions. It was nice to see him bowl very slow through the air because the ball was not coming on and he used the straight one quite well today. Yuvi does not turn the ball much, but he spins it just enough to put the doubt in batsmen's minds, so that his straighter one becomes a potent weapon for getting the batsmen lbw.
The batting was tested a bit today by the pitch and the fielding of the Irish. Like Dhoni said at the presentation, the 208 that Ireland got, looked like 240 bcos of their excellent fielding. But, I am not going to panic and say that even our batsmen look shaky, just because they struggled to get 208 against a minnow side. If u look at the dismissals, only Dhoni got out because of decent bowling. Sehwag got out to the slowness of the pitch, which I am sure he will be more careful of next time, Gambhir's was a freak dismissal and he probably did not see that the fine-leg fielder had come inside the circle, so he will fix that as well. Sachin got out to a very bad shot and Kohli got run out. So the Indian batting still looks ok in my opinion and there is no need to worry about that aspect as of now. Once again, Yusuf came out and played like he was batting on a different pitch. What I like about this Yusuf is the fact that he does not look to slam ever ball to the boundary. I saw him take some good singles and even the winning hit was a risk-free shot. So he appears to have reduced the risk element in his game by a fair bit, which can only be great news for Indian team and us fans.
Yuvraj looked good from the start of his innings and looked determined to finish it off and not let his bowling effort go to waste. It will be great news for Indian fans if this innings gives him confidence to play like the Yuvraj of 2005-2006 when he and MSD used to chase down huge totals in home conditions with ease.
On the whole, India will gladly pocket the 2 points and look to the Netherlands game with more confidence as a chance to increase their net run rate.
Lets hear it from you guys. What do u think about this Indian performance ? Do you feel better about our chances, or do u feel they should have won with more comfort and are now more concerned about India's chances against the bigger teams ?
My next post will be a preview of the Netherlands game. So stay tuned.