Champions Trophy: High intensity against SA augurs well for defending champs India

Jun 13, 2017, 09:20 IST | Santosh Suri

India’s Hardik Pandya celebrates the wicket of South Africa’s Faf du Plessis during their Champions Trophy match on Sunday. Pic/AP/PTI
India's Hardik Pandya celebrates the wicket of South Africa's Faf du Plessis during their Champions Trophy match on Sunday. Pic/AP/PTI

It was indeed commendable the way the Indian team responded to the pressure situation against formidable South Africa at The Oval on Sunday. Rarely have India played, as skipper Virat Kohli said, "a complete game."

Without doubt, such an overwhelming performance augurs well for the defending champs. But India need to be careful not to be complacent, especially against their semi-final opponents Bangladesh at Edgbaston on Thursday.

No complacency, please
Any drop in intensity and thinking that they will just turn up and win the game, would be foolhardy and could backfire, like it happened against Sri Lanka in their second league match.

Kohli has been stressing that this being a tournament among the top eight teams in world cricket, no game is easy. But somehow, they lowered their guard against Sri Lanka. The intensity was missing so much that they had to make a conscious effort to regroup. The resilience shown on Sunday was heartening, much to the joy of their fans, who filled up The Oval and will do so at Edgbaston on Thursday too.

"The intensity was really good. Something we had spoken about after the Sri Lanka match. We wanted to improve on it and we got it. It was not only the bowlers and the fielders, but also the batsmen (who showed it), despite a simple target. The way Shikhar (Dhawan) batted was really great to see. I can't pinpoint any negatives from this game today honestly. It's probably our most complete game yet."

It was the inclusion of off-spinner Ravichandran Ashwin that gave the bowling attack the cutting edge. After Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Jasprit Bumrah kept it tight with the new ball, it was Ashwin, who kept up the pressure that led to the South African batsmen taking that extra risk and giving away their wickets.

"The pressure was built by the bowlers and that resulted in those breakthroughs (the run outs of AB de Villiers and David Miller) that we got on the field. It's important to grab those opportunities as well," was Kohli's take on making the most of the slip ups on the part of the opponents.

Fab fielding
Besides the vast improvement in the bowling effort, what was noticeable was the way the team responded on the field. There were hardly any misfields and the Indians were waiting to pounce on any slip on the part of South Africans.

"The bowlers were on the money and that actually helped the fielders get into better positions and attack the batsmen when they knew the bowler is hitting the right spot regularly," Kohli said.

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