Dubai: It seems that I had spoken too soon about the rains in this column last time as during the first week of the ICC World Cup, only one match was truncated because of the weather. The second week more than made up for it — posing a serious question mark over some of the marquee fixtures coming up — including the India versus Pakistan one in Manchester on Sunday.
The dearth of ‘action’ was more than made up for by two controversies, which took their share of spotlight. Yes, one is talking about the glove affair of Mahendra Singh Dhoni and AB de Villiers’ revelation that he had offered to play for South Africa — the latter much to the chagrin of the Protea fans following their absolutely lacklustre performance so far.
As the showpiece moved on, it was a tale of two southpaw openers who tore apart quality attacks to bring their class to the fore again.
There are no prizes for guessing that David Warner is desperate to prove a point ever since he and Steve Smith made their comeback to the mainstream in the Indian Premier League. Looking leaner and hungrier than ever, the Australian made sure with his racy 107 against a full strength Pakistan attack that he is going to be a thorn in the flesh of the remaining bowling attacks.
A one-year gap can be a long one in the life of a professional sportsperson — and the scar certainly runs deep as the country’s cricketing establishment has categorically ruled Warner out from any leadership roles in the future. Warner, hence, could be one of the hands-on limited overs captains whom Australia will now never have but he seems focused to play a key role in the yellow shirts’ pursuits of retaining the crown they won at home four years back.
The plight of Shikhar Dhawan, of course, highlighted the frailty of fame and glory in sport. As ‘Gabbar’ (as he is affectionately known among fans for his stylised moustache) fought his self doubts and pain to give a fine example of counterattack with an innings of 117 against the likes of Mitchell Starc, Pat Cummins and Nathan Coulter-Nile, the fractured thumb was a price he paid soon after.
The contribution of Dhawan in building the Men in Blue into an unbeatable unit in white ball cricket — more so since he and Rohit Sharma joined hands together at the top of the order since the 2013 Champions Trophy — does not often get it’s due because of the embarrassment of riches in the batting line-up.
The clamour over watching the young and exuberant Rishabh Pant in the World Cup is understandable, but it will be a pity if Dhawan — certainly playing his last World Cup at 33 years, is no more a part of India’s campaign. Pant’s time, we must admit, will surely come.