India has risen from the dead. After India’s listless performance against Australia on Sunday, at the press conference, MS Dhoni was resigned to their fate. He admitted that his team was out of the tournament. It seemed to me like his body was still there but his mind and soul were on a plane headed home. When he was advised that in fact, if India beat Sri Lanka and earned a bonus point in doing so, they still had a chance. Dhoni was surprised and relieved. He also admitted that this would be a hard assignment. He received no arguments on that count.
After Sri Lanka batted first in Hobart and scored 4/320, I think most wrote India off. They wouldn’t even have expected India to win, let alone win in 40 overs or less, to earn a bonus point. When they made the target in just the 37th over, I think most, including myself, were stunned. India had polished off 321 runs at a rate of 8.75 runs per over, losing just three wickets.
Leading the charge was Virat Kholi and there is no surprise there. He scored a blistering 133 from just 86 balls. India has not had much to smile about on this tour but Kholi has been a stand out. He came to Australia as an accomplished one day cricketer – last night was his 82nd ODI match and his 9th century. However, before the Test series, he had just a handful of matches with little results to speak of. He did struggle during the Test series, as did all of his team mates but not as much. And, he showed some spine and plenty of fight. And, he improved during the series, scoring a century in Adelaide.
Perhaps Sri Lanka will look back and wonder how on earth they didn’t shut India out of the competition. Perhaps they could have scored more runs – the pitch was obviously very friendly. Sri Lanka lost just four wickets, and did not lose their second wicket until the 44th over. When you compare Dilshan’s 160 not out from 165 balls, to Kholi, it was pedestrian effort. Perhaps this is simplistic but I think it is interesting to compare the key innings from both sides. Dilshan received 79 balls more than Kholi and with those he scored just 27 runs. All of the India batsmen except for Ghambir scored at better than 130 runs per hundred balls. Dilshan took more than half of the bowling for Sri Lanka and scored at just 96.96 rphb. Is it unfair to criticise someone who has scored 160 not out?
But there you have it. India has made a stunning comeback and won in extraordinary fashion. Now they must wait until Friday and for once in their lives in guessing, they will be hoping for Australia to win.