The winning combination?
What happened to Sreesanth? He began well, bowled at a good pace, swung the ball and almost dismissed Tamim Iqbal in the first over.
A couple of inside edges raced to the fence in his second and he decided to come round the wicket to the left-handed Imrul Kayes. A four off a no-ball and a four off the following freehit and Sreesanth completely lost it.
The way it looks, Dhoni is unlikely to change the combination of his team and stick to three seamers and one specialist spinner in Harbhajan for most matches. Things could however change against South Africa, or in the course of the tournament, against Australia. So in the absence of Nehra (still unsure how long his back is going to take to heal) Sreesanth’s role becomes very crucial.
A golden opportunity came his way when Praveen Kumar was ruled out of the World Cup because of injury and he was included in the squad. Then just before the first match Nehra was injured and he walked into the 11.
Bangladesh had a mountain to climb and the plot was set for him to make the stage his own when Dhoni gave him the new ball. What an opportunity missed.
On the other hand, whether Virat Kohli or Suresh Raina would figure in the team had become a national debate. Kohli was preferred and look how he put an end to all doubts.
It is not without reason that people are calling India favourites. Players like Raina and Ashwin have to sit out of this team. This I believe is the biggest strength Dhoni’s side has.
The payers might not be looking too far ahead as they keep on saying “we will take it one match at a time” as if it’s saved on a template, but the country is looking at the trophy.
“Kapil Dev had scored 175 in 1983 and India went on to win. You have scored a 175 today. Do you think India will go on to win this time?” a journalist asked Sehwag at the post match press briefing. The man-of-the-match smiled and said: “It’s too early to say.”
When India won the World Cup no one thought they would.
By Nilankur Das