Indian pace bowler Mohammed Siraj. (Image: PTI)
Winning the Asia Cup cricket trophy in a runaway manner was the icing on the cake of a good all-round showing by Team India in Sri Lanka, which should give them a great deal of confidence going into the ODI World Cup beginning on Oct. 5. An extraordinary spell of swing bowling by the committed pace bowler Mohammed Siraj saw the final reduced to a farce as the Sri Lankan batsmen fell off a cliff like lemmings.
Choosing to bat in conditions ideal for swing and seam bowling after a mild drizzle freshened up the atmosphere, the Sri Lankans went hard at the moving new ball bowled by Siraj and a rejuvenated Jasprit Bumrah and crashed for a ridiculous 50. They were like babes in the wood in conditions in which they had to build the innings past the PowerPlay by respecting the bowlers.
More than the trot to Cup triumph, what was most impressive about Team India in the island during monsoon time was the form shown in a comprehensive triumph over Pakistan with two top class batting performances by Virat Kohli and K.L. Rahul and fine bowling by the lineup, most of all by spinner Kuldeep Yadav who has redesigned his approach and is pitching his Chinaman and googlies at a testing fuller length.
The batsmen of the top order had sufficient time in the middle, including in a rare ODI defeat to Bangladesh in which an elegant Shubman Gill showed why he is such a treat to the eye as a batter with a wondrous sense of timing. Hardik Pandya may have had his batting abilities tested by the state of the innings in the league game against Sri Lanka.
It does appear that Team India has hit top form at the right time, which will, of course, be a different and difficult proposition given that many teams are displaying fine form in a busy season of white ball cricket.
India had been capitulating in stress situations in knockout games in ICC events for over 10 years now to the extent they have been labelled the new chokers. A great test lies ahead of them, but they seem in a better state to play as a team, with all parts pulling their weight in the three departments, though close-in catching and fielding might need to improve for the team to be ultra-competitive.