Wednesday, July 10, 2013

An Indian triumvirate emerges from the Caribbean triseries


We will never know if Rohit Sharma would have curbed his tendency to throw it away with a loose shot after doing all the hard work, as he has done in earlier games of the triseries as well as the Champions Trophy in England. He did play one airy square cut off Lasith Malinga which should have ended his innings at 11. But apart from that, he again showed he had both the technique and temperament to buckle down in tough batting conditions for an opener.

There were tufts of green on the Queen's Park Oval pitch in Port of Spain, and dark clouds in the sky, when India came out to bat in a must-win game against Sri Lanka to enter the triseries final. Perhaps the ball swung and seamed too much to find the edge of Rohit's bat, as he was squared up and beaten more than once. What was good to see, however, was that he fought through it. He was 48 not out when the rain came pouring down to curtail the Indian innings at 119 for 3. That was a pity because Rohit had just begun to open out with the conditions easing up. His slog sweep into the stands off Rangana Herath was a reminder that he is no grafter by nature. The real point of interest was whether he would have gone on to make a big one in the latter half of the innings. Now we will have to wait for the next time to see if the reformation of Rohit Sharma is complete. Few had given him much of a chance of coming good as an opener with his laid-back strokeplay, especially outside the sub-continent. But he has consistently got India off to good starts in the company of Shikhar Dhawan, both in England and the Caribbean, and that can be a really important factor in this team's success going forward.

The other vital cog in the wheel is the opening bowler, and in Bhuvneshwar Kumar India have found a wicket-taker with the new ball. He had shown promise at the very outset in his debut series against Pakistan in India, but to carry on in the same vein abroad is a happy portent. Surprisingly, he was dropped after just one below par performance in the first match of the triseries. India's substitute captain Virat Kohli soon realised his folly and brought him back. Since then, Bhuvi has been the match-winner for India in both games. His four wickets for eight runs in six overs against Lanka on Tuesday came in treacherous conditions after a downpour on a grassy wicket, but even otherwise he has consistently moved the new ball both ways and batsmen have found it hard to pick him. The challenge for him now is to find a method to be effective with the old ball too and on batting wickets.

And that brings us to the last of the Indian triumvirate to add a new dimension to their game in this triseries. Virat Kohli has been India's best batsman for a while now, but captaincy is still a work in progress for him even if he tasted success at the under-19 level. He got off to a poor start in the triseries, thrust into the role in the middle of the first game after MS Dhoni pulled a hamstring while taking a quick single. No captain is going to be perfect, and mistakes will be made. Cricket is a tactical contest and a captain has several options to choose from at different stages. The thing to look for is whether a captain is learning from the wrong moves he makes, or repeating them. Kohli has already shown that he belongs in the former category.

Rohit Sharma, Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Virat Kohli - that's quite a triumvirate to emerge from this triseries in the Caribbean.

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