Today's game against Netherlands did not provide too many surprises for India, who won comfortably with overs to spare. Here are some quick thoughts on today's game.
As I mentioned, India's best chance for this game was in bowling first and restricting the opposition to a small score. They did just that, though Dhoni mentioned he would have batted first had he won the toss. I was surprised to find Ashwin missing from the playing eleven yet again. I cannot understand this stubborn persistence with Piyush Chawla, especially knowing that Ashwin will play in some of the future games. So instead of bringing him in from the cold for the big games against SA and WI, India should have given him a chance here. I can think of 2 possible reasons why Dhoni chose to not play Ashwin so long into the WC. One, he has too much confidence in Ashwin and is not concerned about his ability to deliver the goods when he gets the chance. Another reason could be that he did not want Piyush to be rotated out of the eleven when he was low on confidence, so he decided to give him one more chance to get his confidence back by playing him against a smaller side.
Anyway, I dont see Piyush playing against SA as that would be taking too much risk since Piyush could go for a lot of runs there. So maybe Ashwin could have got his feet wet in this game and taken the confidence from his good performance here, in the matches against the bigger opposition.
It was nice to see Ashish Nehra get a game today. Though, I think that by not resting Zaheer for this game, India is taking a chance with his fitness since the next game is only 3 days away. Once again, Dhoni brought on Yusuf for the 4th over, which was nice. It will be interesting to see whether Ashwin is given the new ball when he plays.
Also, sending Yusuf at number 3 when chasing was a good idea, even though it did not click this time. It shows that the think tank is prepared to think out of the box and is flexible with their batting lineup, which is good since predictability is one thing all teams should look to avoid, whether with bat or ball, in this World Cup.
The chase was pretty comfortable, though they lost 5 wickets and had to depend on their last specialist pair to see them home. They achieved the objective of a significant increase in the net run rate, so no complaints there. One more heartening aspect is the form of Yuvraj with bat and ball. I have always maintained that Yuvi is one of the most important members of this side, not withstanding the presence of Sachin, Sehwag and other stars. He has quietly notched up 3 half centuries and also provides an attacking option with the ball in the middle overs. This is helping to mask the fact that Harbhajan has hardly taken any wickets in this WC so far, and has been restrictive at best, which is not his role. But Harbhajan needs to discover the art of taking wickets soon, otherwise it will affect the Indian performance at some stage.
With the matches against the lesser teams out of the way, it is now time to focus on the bigger games against SA and WI and trying to win both so that India can end up at the top of the group.
Lets chat about the SA game and the WI game.My next post will be before the SA game.