Nidahas Trophy report card: Indian cricket team’s spin perfect, pace tense

India rested half-a-dozen players and still turned out to be too strong for their neighbours. India got a jolt in the first match but regrouped nicely to not only clinch every game thereafter but also became the only team in the tournament to win a game defending a total of 176 against Bangladesh in the league phase.

It wasn’t just a trophy win but a statement of strength by India. While most games were exciting to watch, there’s been a constant issue affecting T20 cricket — teams chasing have a distinct advantage, and, therefore, most T20 games follow the same template across the globe. Winning the toss is akin to winning half the match. That must change.

Coming back to India’s gains, it’ll be difficult to look past Karthik’s heroics in the final and his growth as a player since his comeback. While potential and promise were always there, Karthik’s performance left a lot to be desired. He made his international debut before Dhoni and got multiple chances to cement his place, but couldn’t.

Earlier, he would make a good 20-30 before getting dismissed and leaving the team in a lurch. But since his latest comeback, he’s taken it upon himself to be there till the end and finish the games off. Maturity has replaced vanity with regard to building the innings and his innings construction suggests he’s finally cracked the code.

Laxman told me that succeeding in international cricket is about the knowledge of constructing an innings and it can take years for players to understand what worked for them. Karthik’s knowledge of his strength and calmness under pressure came to the fore in the final and he’s made a strong case for his inclusion in the ODI setup too. After all, middle muddle is yet to be sorted.

Washington Sundar, the biggest gain

For someone who started as a batsman, Sundar has transformed well as a limited-over bowler. He bowled the tough overs in all the games and held his own every time. He’s tall and has a clean high-arm action, which allows him to finish within the stumps most of the time.

He reminds me of Axar Patel in his first season of IPL. Just like Axar, Sundar also bowls a flatter trajectory and relies on his accuracy with regards to length to succeed. His trajectory doesn’t allow batsmen to use their feet and the length is neither short enough to pull nor full enough to get under while parked in the crease.

India’s spin department is already fairly crowded (so much so that Ashwin, Jadeja are nowhere close to getting back) and Sundar’s return has added another option. Ideally, India should have tested him a little with the bat too but that will have to wait. For now, he’ll only be considered as a bowler who might be able to bat a bit, if needed.