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From underdogs to favourites: India in the ICC World Twenty20

Tuesday, 1 April 2014 - 10:30am IST | Place: DHAKA | Agency: dna

MS Dhoni and Co. have won all their Group 2 matches in convincing styles and are now serious contenders for the title
  • India had many things to worry about before the start of the tournament, not least Rohit Sharma’s form and Yuvraj Singh’s return. Both have come to the party in Bangladesh AFP

Not many gave India a chance of advancing to the knockout stage of the ICC World Twenty20, let alone winning it a second time.

This, especially after their performances in South Africa last year end followed by New Zealand earlier this year and the Asia Cup just before this tournament. India were not even considered the dark horses.

However, the Men in Blue surprised everyone by not only qualifying for the semifinals but also ending their league campaign with a 100 per cent win record in Group 2 of the Super 10.

After registering easy wins over Pakistan, West Indies and Bangladesh, the Mahendra Singh Dhoni side finished their league engagements by crushing Australia at the Sher-e-Bangla Stadium on Sunday night.

Going into the tournament, India faced many issues that needed attention. Rohit Sharma's form, off-colour Yuvraj Singh's return to the team, death bowling, etc.

On top of all these were the Supreme Court's observations over the Indian Premier League fiasco. However, Dhoni's men preferred to take things as they came, not worrying about what was happening or said at home.

As the tournament progressed things started to fall in place. Rohit Sharma cracked back-to-back half centuries – 62* vs West Indies and 56 vs Bangladesh. After three failures, Yuvraj chose the right team to return to form by smashing 60 against Australia in India's last league game. Spinners R Ashwin, Amit Mishra and Ravindra Jadeja have become potent forces of the Indian team on the slow and low pitches here.

Ashwin and Mishra have each won back-to-back man of the match awards for their consistency.

Dhoni, on Sunday night, said that the mood in the camp was good even when the team was not doing well. "The mood in camp is good. It was good even when we were not doing well. You have to think practically. The conditions here are different. It's like saying, you take 18 hours to reach New Zealand and 40 minutes to come here. The conditions are entirely different, the challenges are different. Here, the spinners have something to bank upon. The ball doesn't come on to the bat nicely, so we can exploit the conditions which were not the case before when we toured South Africa or New Zealand," Dhoni said of the improved performances.

So has the team peaked at the right time? "I hope so. We are doing well, we have bowled really well in the tournament but still, as I said, on that particular day, you have to bowl well and bat well. It's a very short format, 20 overs, every couple of overs that you bowl can actually change the entire course of the game. So you have to see at which pace the game is and all those things that are happening. It's not very easy judge a T20 and you have to be in the scenario, in the mix of the game on that particular day. So I think it will be interesting in the coming games, semifinals. I hope the better teams that play consistently win the games," replied Dhoni.

Praising Yuvraj for his latest knock, Dhoni said: "We all know the kind of batsman he is. He can clear any ground in the world and doesn't matter whether he is facing a fast bowler or a spinner. He may struggle for the first five to seven deliveries. Your good luck if you get him out, otherwise he will take you out of the game."

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