Even the law of averages had to give in, sometime. After 8 straight (almost 9) agonizing, heart-wrenching, limp, devastatingly miserable losses to the best team in the world, team India could go nowhere but up. Now, interestingly, a lot of things stand out here. A sort of trend, very Indian-like, seems to be forming- with MSD at the front of it all.

-This was the first in six international tosses that the beleaguered captain won.

-This was Team India’s first ODI back at home after lifting the World Cup. Dhoni scored 91 in that final way back (or so it seems) in April.

-Raina and Dhoni once again returned back to roaring form…a few months too late, of course. Nevertheless, it was always going to happen on home soil.

-Dhoni’s perennial pick- something that could have haunted him for the rest of his mortal cricketing life- that man Ravindra Jadeja…he came good, once again, at the worst possible time for his anti-lovers. This time, with the ball. Freakish, really. And not a good sign, unless he magically decides to switch talents and become the next big thing after Andrew Flintoff.

-This was Dhoni’s fourth half century in his last 4 international innings- with 3 of them coming in absolutely hopeless, lost causes. But then, this was Hyderabad. That was Cardiff.

-India might keep their team unchanged after this crushing win. That is not exactly good news, if you closely observe the team composition. Vinay Kumar and Umesh Yadav are strike bowlers. Ashwin and Jadeja are the spinners. Praveen Kumar, deservedly, leads the attack. Only ONE of them played in the World Cup, and none of them played that final. How can a team bear such a different look in just a few months? (hint: BCCI, UDRS, 20-20, IPL, CL T20, Tour calendar, money, money, money….)

Man v/s Boys

As an Indian fan, this win might seem bittersweet- and also serves as a reality check to our brittle batting order that seems to be composed of only two batsmen at any point of time. We all know that 100 run wins are hard to come by, and England’s collapse after their captain departed only proved that they still have a long way to go as a one-day team- especially when they play in sub-continental conditions. Of course, their lack of experience is duly nullified by ours, but as we know, we ROAR at home- and thankfully, that trait still persists.

Dhoni defied fitness and form, as we have seen him done before, and played his 1000549th match in the last 4 months. He survived. He floated. He pushed Raina to the brink too. Chennai’s loss, as he said, is India’s gain: and there is a lot of truth to this statement. With CSK crashing out early in the league, Dhoni may have smiled a bit while pointing out that he gets more time to rest this way, and prepare for the World Champions to face the best team in the world (your guess is as good as mine). He stuck to his word, and proved once again to the BCCI that he doesn’t moan for the sake of it. There is a degree of sincerity to his own observations, and we damn well believe him because he is still the leader.
A quick-fire free-flowing 87 which brought back memories of that fateful night in April, rescued India from tittering on the brink in the middle-overs, and more importantly, he accompanied Raina in the destruction of Tim Bresnan: a telling statement for the rest of the series.
Gambhir has become a 30-odd cameo-specialist, something that Parthiv has been employed for too. Rahane’s innings was a colossal struggle, as was Kohli’s- and thank the stars they weren’t in a partnership together. A nice little cameo from Jadeja kind of fooled us into thinking that his role for the game was over. But Dhoni, as he always does as far as his protégé is concerned, had other plans- which could have easily backfired in his face, as it does ever so often nowadays.

Super Sappers

Praveen Kumar was the real hero with the ball, providing enough confidence to the spinners- as they wrecked through the amateur England middle-order after captain Cook (incidentally not even part of the World Cup squad this year) departed. A collapse of this sort was expected from their opposition, maybe, but the tables (as well as the weather, humidity, crowd, atmosphere and food) has changed.

We’re in for quite a series- and hopefully, this won’t spell more doom for the 50-over format. Also, keep in mind, that the squad for the last 3 ODIs will be named very soon, and that the fourth ODI will be played in Mumbai at Wankhede. 3-0 by then? We don’t mind!
If not Sachin Tendulkar, let’s hope that Rohit Sharma is fit by then. Mumbai need a boy, if not their only son.

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