This Indian team is a young side. A very talented team. A team with ever-increasing self belief as they advance into the final. And because they are a young team they know how to be fearless and live in the moment. Most players are very instinctive in the way they play the game. And with the enthusiasm of youth abounding, MS Dhoni is the perfect leader. With not only experience but also the ability to change his own batting plan according to the demands of the situation, Dhoni is a very great threat for the opponents.
Now that the team has breezed into the final, they will be a very confident side. A unit just raring to go. With wise direction coming from their skipper as an when the occasion demands, India are turning out to the the team to beat. A huge factor that has gone a long way is the quality of fielding. Fielding by itself has the potential to lift the spirits of a side immensely. The team is exhibiting the effort and skill while fielding that we associate with a team like South Africa.
Another aspect of the game that the team think tank will be happy about is the fact that, though there have been some great individual performances, the team has worked as a unit to win games. In all the games its been a team effort. This means that every player feels much stronger being a part of the team that he would as an individual. The feeling of being a close knit unit will help India win close games.
Waiting for them is England. The hosts of the final Champions Trophy have looked increasingly stronger and more comfortable with each win in the tournament. It wasn't too long ago that they were having a tough time of it against New Zealand in the three-ODI series, but it looks like England used that brief contest as a tune-up for the Champions Trophy.
England possess the home advantage. The intimate knowledge of the pitch conditions and the ability to play in colder and wetter climes makes them a formidable team. They also possess a very potent seam attack with James Anderson, one of the word's best fast bowlers along with Stuart Broad and Steven Finn. And with batsmen like Alastair Cook, Ian Bell, Jonathan Trott and the younger Joe Root and Jos Buttler, they have a side that can be tough to beat on their day.
The way they trounced South Africa proves that England as an ever improving team and that they know how to keep the momentum going once they are on a roll. Cook later said that he never would have thought that England would be done winning the semis as early as 5pm. The team is in a happy place and though they have a strong team to face in the final, they will be prepared and waiting for India.
As seen throughout the tournament, the toss has been very important with regards to pressing home the advantage gained by winning it. In rain affected games the team opting to bat second has come out on top more times than not. Just like India did in the semi-final against Sri Lanka.
Apart from the the toss which both teams have equal chance of winning, the weather might play a major role in the outcome of the game and with all the on field calculations, the captains will also have to keep an eye on how the weather is likely to be when it comes to deciding what to do after winning the toss. For this reason its vital that the coaches be on the top of their game as well. Because in a rain affected match, when the Duckworth/ Lewis comes into play, its the coach who has to keep abreast of the calculations and keep the captain, who is on field, informed at all times on the ever changing situation.
For England, winning will be a natural progression to their constant development into a world class Test and ODI team. Cook is happy with the way they have played and believes that his England team is one that will rise to the occasion when the situation demands it.
For India, winning the trophy will mean much more than the champions tag. The team will look at it as a very apt gift for the people of the country. It will be a great way to give cricket lovers a great memory to cherish. The Indian cricket fan has gone through a lot of heartbreak recently and this may be exactly the medicine needed to recover.
First Published: June 22, 2013, 11:32 AM IST