‘In­dia un­done by per­fect cricket’

Hindustan Times ST (Jaipur) - - World - HT Cor­re­spon­dent sports­desk@hindustantimes.com

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.

AP

MS Dhoni will be al­most 39 by the next World Cup so In­dia need to de­cide on him.

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