BY WASIM PARKAR – FAN FUEL BLOGGER
India’s batting strength was on display again as they defeated South Africa in the opening game of the ICC Champions Trophy 2013 in Cardiff, and in doing so they sent out an ominous warning to the rest of the field. The Proteas on the other hand, have a lot of thinking to do if they are to progress further in the tournament. My reflections after the opening game of the Champions Trophy include:
1. So much for two new balls in English conditions. The warm-up games gave us strong hints, but the curtain raiser ended up proving that after a settling period of a few overs, Cardiff is going to be a paradise for batsmen throughout this short tournament.
2. Shikhar Dhawan announced his arrival in the ODI arena with a century of quiet composure and serene aggression. At times the southpaw gave the impression that he was toying with the South African attack, and his dismissal to an innocuous delivery was a genuine surprise.
3. Rohit Sharma’s 65 might have felt inconsequential in comparison, but served just as important a purpose. Could the responsibility of negating the new ball finally be the reckoning of India’s most underutilized talent?
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4. Ravindra Jadeja’s innings of 47 from 28 balls was a display of brilliant hitting. His assessment of which shots to play, coupled with the ease of finding gaps on the boundary ensured that India didn’t throw away a good start, despite a flurry of wickets in the middle order.
5. In the absence of a true match-winning spinner in their bowling lineup, JP Duminy’s canny off spin has a crucial role to play for the Proteas in the middle overs. Duminy’s economical overs only further underscore why his presence is vital in South Africa’s ODI side.
6. After losing Dale Steyn to injury pre-game and then Morne Morkel halfway through the innings, Rory Kleinvelt and Lonwabe Tsotsobe served up a buffet of wide and over-pitched deliveries for the Indian batsmen to tuck in. South Africa are in a really tricky position, whereby all of a sudden Ryan McLaren is the leader of the pace attack.
7. For a player who hadn’t scored an ODI 50 in 68 previous games, Peterson’s 68 was an exceptional effort in a difficult situation. If not for his unnecessary run-out, the match could well have had a different outcome.
8. Following on from that run-out, it was remarkable to see AB de Villiers lose his composure so quickly after losing his established partner. Even before his ugly hoick across the line to Umesh Yadav, one never got the sense that the skipper had a measure of the chase.
9. In a manner to similar to Duminy, Suresh Raina played an excellent role supporting the two spinners in the side. Raina took pace off the ball, and built up the pressure for the two senior spinners to exploit.
10. In addition to his late cameo with the bat, Jadeja enhanced his case as the best all-rounder currently in India with an exceptional spell of two for 31 in nine overs.
11. As galling as Peterson’s run-out was, the defining moment of the chase certainly was David Miller being run-out with even facing a ball.
12. McLaren’s 71 off 61 balls was a very good innings. With the new fielding restrictions, and a required run-rate of eight per over with 20 overs left, did de Villiers have to play such a risky shot against Yadav? Was there really a need for a risky two to run out Miller?
13. The last wicket stand of 48 between the injured Morkel and McLaren might yet be a positive for South Africa. If qualification from the group comes down to net run rate, a negative run rate of one would have been insurmountable.
14. It’s not been the case often at major tournaments, but in Virat Kohli, Jadeja and Raina, India possess three of the very best fielders in the modern game.
15. India ticked all the boxes in batting, fielding and spin bowling, however their fast bowlers continue to be a concern. The scoreboard pressure masked this deficiency, but Yadav, Ishant Sharma and Bhubneshwar Kumar were given the treatment at all stages of the innings.