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India were better under pressure
by Renin Wilben
Nov 23, 2008
In the rain-marred day-night encounter at Bangalore, India were once again the better side and as a result clinched the 7-match series 4-0. Yet again England put up a resistance but it wasn't good enough. And in the end, India won comfortably as England's chances went up in smoke.

Chasing a revised target of 198 (D/L method), England were in the hunt when Owais Shah and Andrew Flintoff went hammer and tongs. Shah displayed his exceptional talent dismissing the Indian spinners with ease. And Flintoff played the way we all know he can. But England's main problem arose during the powerplays. They were just not able to clear the field when the fielders when in and in the process also lost wickets and with it the game and the series.

Kevin Pietersen did not help the team's cause by coming in at number four and sending Ian Bell ahead of him. In the end it did not matter though as the English skipper could do little to rescue England. The visiting side had their moments in the game but were not good enough to make the most of it

India however managed to hold their nerve under extreme pressure. And this was thanks largely to a superb spell by Zaheer Khan, who kept the ball up throughout and did not give any opportunity for the batsmen to go over the top. He was exceptional at the start and even when he came back to bowl the one over during the batting powerplay.

What was even more heartening to see was the way he guided Ishant Sharma and even helped MS Dhoni in setting the field for him. Zaheer has played a monumental hand in India's rise in world cricket in recent times. Sehwag may have won the man of the match at Bangalore for a typically feisty half-century but it was undoubtedly Zaheer who turned the match on its head.

Speaking of Sehwag, he was once again in supreme touch, which is a great sign for India. Sehwag smashed the ball to all parts with ease and even the two rain interruptions did not distract him. In fact the first ball after the second rain interruption by Samit Patel was dispatched for six by the Delhi daredevil. Gautam Gambhir too continued his rich vein of form. And hence the million dollar question of whether Sachin Tendulkar should open the innings will be asked time and again.

The theory floating around is that the Mumbai maestro can play a guiding hand in the middle-order giving Sehwag-Gambhir the license to thrill at the top. And in the kind of form the Delhi duo is in at present it makes a lot of sense. As also the fact that Sachin won't be around for too long and it will be Sehwag-Gambhir who will take India forward in the future.

While it is great to have Sachin in the side, it has to be made sure that his inclusion doesn't disrupt the balance in the team in anyway. And hence it would be interesting to see where Sachin bats in the rest of the games.

Coming back to the series, with India having won it, we can expect some experiments in the remaining three matches. At the same time, a 7-0 drubbing of England would do Indian cricket a world of good. So the Indians have to make sure that they maintain the intensity even though the series in won.

Often in the past we have seen them relaxing in such a situation feeling seemingly satisfied. But if they want to become a champion side, they have to be ruthless. And it is this aspect of their cricket that the Indians really need to work hard on.

England may have lost the series but they still have a lot to play for. A couple of wins would do their confidence no harm going into a tough Test series. It would be crucial for the likes of Pietersen, Collingwood and Bell, who will play a significant role in the Test series, to get among the runs. They would also need James Anderson and Steve Harmison to bowl way better that they have done so far.

The bottomline is that the Englishmen have to put up an improved showing as a team to complete in the remaining games. A failure to do so could result in some disastrous consequences against a team on a high.
More Views by Renin Wilben
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  The sad demise of Windies cricket
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