India are once again in the final of the World Twenty20 after a span of seven years. It’s amazing to see how India steps up a level in such big tournaments.
They didn’t have a great time before this but in this competition they have looked a class act, a team which has been brilliant in all aspects of the game and a team which has soaked pressure with ease. At the break-time on Friday, one would be lying if one felt that the total was not a bit too much but the Indian batting riding on the shoulders of ever-maturing Virat Kohli went past the total with ease.
The best bit about Indian batting is that all the players who came to the crease never let the asking rate go beyond the required rate at the start. We saw how the West Indies and Pakistan got stuck while chasing not-so-big totals but the reason why India won with an over to spare was because of the brilliant pacing of the Indian batsmen.
Rohit Sharma and Ajinkya Rahane got them off to a flier and none of the players looked like that the big occasion has bogged them down. To me this is the strength of India in big occasions, they have proved a lot more battle resilient in big tournaments and not surprisingly have won quite a few titles in the last few years.
For me, the man of the moment is Virat Kohli. I have seen and played with quite a few big players in my career and I can vouch that this man is right up there. The way he paced his innings under pressure not only proved his enormous skills but his unbelievable head in big matches.
They say he is in love with big chases and very rightly so. He is turning himself into a little genius and will break a lot of records in the future. The two pictures what stood out for me was one his reaction when Rohit Sharma misfielded a boundary on the fence and one when Dhoni defended a delivery in the second last over to allow him to finish the game. It just shows how much the team and victory meant to him and this why he is the best in the world along with AB De Villiers at the moment. It’s this attitude separates him from the rest and which will keep the faith of the Indian fans in the years to come.
The final on Sunday will be among two of the best teams in the tournament. It is the last time Sanga and Mahela will play for Sri Lanka in a T-20 competition and it a perfect occasion that their team has made to the finals.
Sri Lanka has made it to quite a few World Cup finals in various formats in 2007, 2011, 2012 but has finished on the losing side in all three of them. They have the balance in the squad for the condition but do they have the mental strength to get past big games against this rampaging Indian side? They have done surprisingly superbly under Lasith Malinga, a stand-in captain, but he has to find a trick to get past India.
The Indians will probably look to bring back Sami, that’s the only change I can see. The Sri Lankan bowling looks a balanced one for this condition but to keep the contest alive, they will have to find a way to get past Kohli. If they can’t, then they might find themselves coming second a one more time.
- The author is a former India captain