History, preposterous as it might sound, has an odd way of repeating. Sometimes like a farce, sometimes as a tragedy, but rarely as it is. Seeing the sudden resurgence of Team India, amidst prevailing chaos, one cannot but warrant the analogy of history being repeated just as it is, almost frame by frame.
Not even the players can desist from the Champions Trophy allusion. The circumstances, the expectation, the defiance, the eventual triumph, unseen as it came, the togetherness, everything echoes the summer of 2013. Ravichandran Ashwin readily brings in the comparison. “It’s pretty much like the Champions Trophy. We came here with a free mind, with not much expectations, with a great dressing room environment, with our focus merely on the nearest match. We focused on a lot of little things, some of which can’t be explained here. That’s possibly the reason we are here,” he said.
While a baggage-free mind and fearlessness can be contributive reasons, these are not the only reasons for India’s renaissance. Conditions, to, an extent, catalysed their surge. In England, the conditions were custom-made for India’s new-ball operators while in Mirpur, the spinners have fully exploited the dryness of the surface. “I feel what we did was, we came in with nothing really in mind... knew the conditions quite well,” skipper MS Dhoni summed up.
It is obvious that Dhoni and, behind the scenes, the coach, Duncan Fletcher are revelling in the energy and ambition of this set of players. They are constantly keeping their coaches busy, always eager to catch one more ball, to hit one more stump or bowl one more over. But the process, as Dhoni specifies, isn’t over. Realistically, it never does. It’s a work in perpetual progress. There is something or the other to be attended or redressed.
And in India’s case, this might denote death bowling. Ashwin rose to defend. “When speaking about us conceding runs in the death overs, everybody, maybe except Pakistan, concede nearly 10 an over,” he said.
By T20’s ostentatious ways, India’s death bowling, despite the absence of ‘yorker-slingers’, haven’t suffered much. Against Pakistan, they let 48 off the last five, West Indies doled out 53 and Bangladesh 48. Ten an over is almost an accepted norm, and they would be reasonably satisfied if they did not concede more than 10 against Australia.
Compare this to Australia, the over-hyped favourites who are a match away from folding up their campaign. They did remarkably to restrict Pakistan from getting away to a runaway score, but still they whittled out 51 runs. The Caribbeans caned them more, blasting 57. Hence, Ashwin’s observations are not entirely without gravity.
Few others epitomise India’s fresh confidence as Virat Kohli, who has tallied 147 runs in three innings. Indeed their most obvious concern stems from his excellence. Because he has been so prolific those down the order have had limited opportunities to spend time in the middle. But do not expect Dhoni to worry too much about that because he does not appear to worry about anything. Not the least a deflated Australian side.