The 1999 World cup tournament was to be South Africa’s. Every cricket pundit worth his salt announced that South Africa was going to win the cup that year. Needing nine runs to win from the final over, Lance Klusener hit the first two balls for four. With South Africa requiring just one run to win off four balls, it seemed that South Africa were set for the final. However, a tragic mix-up with last man Allan Donald led to a dramatic run out which cost the Proteas their final wicket and a place in the final. This is one instance in a long line of matches which has made South Africa earn the perennial tag of ‘chokers’. South Africa sadly is yet to master the fine art of peaking at the right time. In high pressure tournaments like the world cup, winning round robin matches matters little if the team loses in the knockouts. The team that peaks at the right time eventually wins the more important matches.
India would do well to heed South Africa’s example. In the 2011 World Cup during the group stages, India tied against England and lost against South Africa, managing to beat only West Indies. But team India eventually raised their game when it most mattered-the knockout games. The Indian fielding has been stellar so far with Kohli, Jadeja, Rahane, and Raina leading the young fielding brigade. The bowling has also stood up when it counted. It’s the batting order which seems to have a few chinks left in its armour.Given the high quality of bowling attacks India is set to face in the upcoming matches these are chinks which Dhoni would only be too relieved to iron out.
For one, the Rohit Sharma and Shikhar Dhawan opening combination needs to click-simultaneously. Rohit Sharma in particular seems to be sleepwalking through this world cup. The Dhawan-Sharma duo have neither upped the tempo in the first 10 overs nor have they been able to set the pace in the middle overs together. While this might seem like nitpicking in what has been a stupendous world cup campaign so far, India would do well to improve upon this pressing area of concern, instead of being lulled into a false sense of complacency.