‘India undone by perfect cricket’
Pakistan were rank outsiders at the start of the ICC Champions Trophy 2017. After a heavy loss to India in their first game at Edgbaston, Sarfraz Ahmed’s side bounced back in style as they registered wins over South Africa and Sri Lanka.
They shocked England in the semi-final before stunning the cricketing world on Sunday when they thrashed India by 180 runs in the final at the Oval, clinching the ICC Champions Trophy for the first time.
Pakistan have become the fourth team, after India, West Indies and Sri Lanka, to complete a treble of ICC tournament wins. Former Australia wicketkeeper Adam Gilchrist has said India were undone by a Pakistan team that got everything right.
Speaking at the Australia-India Sports Partnership Meet in New Delhi on Monday, Gilchrist said, “It was one bad day. India, after a very impressive tournament, just got caught out on the big final day. They came up against a Pakistan team who played a perfect one-off game.” Virat Kohli’s decision to bowl first in the final has been criticised after Pakistan put up a magnificent batting performance. However, Gilchrist said the nature of the tournament was such that one cannot criticise Kohli’s decision.
“In most of the games in this edition, the team batting second won the match. You have to look at that historical component in this tournament. India have done well chasing and were comfortable batting second,” Gilchrist said.
Heading into the final, there were four consecutive games which featured victories by teams that chased a target. The opening match of the Champions Trophy 2017 saw England chase down 306 against Bangladesh while Sri Lanka overhauled India’s 321 at the Oval, the highest total ever chased in the Champions Trophy.
India, after a very impressive tournament, just got caught out on the big final day. They came up against a Pakistan team who played a perfect oneoff game.
Prior to the final, India had not lost to Pakistan for eight years in an ICC event, and had an 8-2 advantage in ICC ODI events. Gilchrist said Pakistan’s win would gladden the hearts of all cricket lovers.
“We all know of their struggles of not getting a home international game. They have basically been a nomadic team who play abroad. This has probably helped them adapt in these conditions. The only thing about Pakistan cricket is that they are unpredictable. Their win is a lot like West Indies winning the World T20. We know about their struggles with the game, administration and their participation. Pakistan’s win thus is positive news in cricket,” Gilchrist added.
The other challenge for India ahead of the 2019 World Cup in England is putting in place a middle-order that can allow the top three to play freely.
MS Dhoni, no longer an impact batsman in the end overs, will be almost 39 in 2019. Although he is up there in terms of fitness and reflexes, the selectors can’t afford not to nurture young talent and ensure he gets enough games.
Yuvraj Singh too is in his mid 30s. India need batsmen who can rally the team after early setbacks like Sunday, as well as contribute in fielding. The middle-order will be vital as only Pandya among the three allrounders –(Ashwin and Jadeja the others – has been delivering with bat and ball consistently.
MS Dhoni will be almost 39 by the next World Cup so India need to decide on him.