India skipper's proactive approach has the bowlers thinking about taking wickets instead of, 'how can I stop these batsmen from scoring heavily' and the difference is marked, writes ian Chappell
Sydney: As much as Rohit Sharma was the star and Suresh Raina played a strong supporting role, the bowlers also played their part in the quarter-final against Bangladesh. This has now become a common theme during the World Cup in what has been the biggest turnaround since Australia became the first nation to ever wrest the America's Cup.
India captain MS Dhoni celebrates the dismissal of Bangladesh's Shakib Al Hasan for 10 during their World Cup quarter-final at the Melbourne Cricket Ground on March 19. Pic:AP/PTI
Just six weeks ago you wouldn't have given the Indian attack a price for claiming all seventy wickets in their first seven World Cup matches. Nevertheless, that's exactly what they've achieved and it's a credit to their persistence and resilience that they've been able to click into gear when it really mattered.
In large part I think the improvement has coincided with two things; MS Dhoni's resurgence as a captain and the arrival of Mohit Sharma. Where Dhoni seemed to lack interest in proceedings leading up to the World Cup, it appears he's been galvanised by the thought of defending his title on foreign soil. His pro-active approach has the bowlers thinking about taking wickets instead of "how can I stop these batsmen from scoring heavily" and the difference is marked.
Having seen the success that can come by thinking aggressively, the bowlers' confidence has grown considerably and they are now performing consistently. Mohit has spiced that confidence and consistency with a determination that matches Rohit's MCG innings and his enthusiasm has rubbed off on his fellow bowlers.
The final component in India's World Cup resurgence has been the fielding. It was athletic and safe with the occasional brilliant intercept at the Melbourne Cricket Ground against Bangladesh. It helps if all the chances created are accepted and this also helps to build the confidence of the bowlers.
It was an impressive performance by India and now that they've married skill with determination they are an extremely dangerous opponent. If they repeat that performance at the SCG on a surface that could well suit their style, they'll be a handful for Australia.