Monday, February 23, 2015

World Cup 2015 - India beats South Africa

In a match in which South Africa seemed to have the edge, India did the unexpected. They beat South Africa by well over 100 runs. The team played as a team and everyone performed their role. It's stuff that champion teams are made of.

Rahane played the innings that true match winners are capable of. It was superb stuff to see the slightly built young man with the eyes of a sad monk take apart of the South African bowling clinically and in the process broke their self-belief. Kohli reigned himself in and lent stability to an innings which could have gone either way if he'd lost his head and continued playing as he did in the last game - much in the same way he did in the final of the 2011 World Cup. And not to forget Shikhar Dhawan who overcame his demons and came good when it really mattered. Now Rohit can take teh cue, Dhoni will surely pick up and the team looks good.

What is great for this team is the way the uncelebrated players are delivering. Mohit Sharma, Umesh Yadav, Shami are all good but the way they stepped up and despite their lesser talents and reputations hassled the famed South African batsmen and knocked them into submission. The team is playing as one. It is enjoying itself. It is celebrating each others success.

Raina I suspect is the key to this glue. He looks like an unselfish player, one who makes the move. he is the man every captain wants in his side. He has also rubbed off on Rahane, a very sorted out young man, and we have two such. We have the highly intense Kohli. Now if only they can cut under Rohit's skin, we have a team that will retain the cup. At the top one finally sees a smiling Dhoni, making impeccable moves as a captain, enjoying himself as he never has.

I think much credit is owed to Ravi Shastri for bringing about this change in the team. It was never about what they could do more. It was always about how they could do more with what they already had. It was about the mindset that he talked about and well, he seemed to have somehow got them to understand how champions function. How people like Shastri function. He will make an impact wherever he goes - that is what the champion does.

I knew South Africa was done way before they started their innings. Sometime in the 35th over of the Indian innings, the signs were clear. The body language was one of a team that somehow resigned itself. They looked clueless, looked like victims. They need someone to help them with their mindset.

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