Dhoni’s Dazzlers could not have presented a better gift to Kapil’s Devils on the 30th anniversary (June 25) of their World Cup triumph.
Like the 1983 side, the current team, too, wasn’t considered the favourite. In fact, when the Indians flew into Heathrow for the Champions Trophy, many expected them to take an early flight back home given the spot-fixing and IPL-related controversies as well as the tough group (South Africa, Pakistan and the West Indies) they found themselves in.
Adversity brings the best — or worst — out of men and Dhoni has time and again proved that he’s the best man in times of crisis.
The India skipper had to ensure that all the negativity didn’t affect the side and the young guns focused firmly on the job on hand.
In 1983, it was Kapil Dev who performed this role with distinction, guiding the players with his natural leadership qualities and adding value with meaty contributions (175 not out against Zimbabwe when the team was on the brink at 17 for five and the catch to dismiss Vivian Richards in the final when the West Indian threatened to give his team a hat-trick of crowns with a breezy knock).
The recent campaign saw the Indians enjoy a jolly ride, crushing opponents with glee and finding themselves just a match away from the trophy they had only co-owned before (with Sri Lanka in 2002).
As destiny would have it, the heavens opened up and there was just time for a Twenty20 bash in the final.
As if to show that the IPL is not bad for the game, or Indian cricket, the visitors kept their cool despite numerous interruptions, a stiff opposition and the small target they eventually set for the Englishmen.
Fielding has never been India’s biggest asset, but this Champions Trophy proved that it is increasingly becoming one.
The batsmen were expected to struggle in English conditions, but the openers’ (Shikhar Dhawan and Rohit Sharma) dominance was such that many batsmen did not even have to pad up most of the time.
The seam bowlers revelled in overcast and helpful conditions, but playing two spinners (Ashwin and Jadeja) proved the difference. That the latter can contribute vital runs down the order made things easy for Dhoni, the way Kirti Azad, Madan Lal and Roger Binny performed for Kapil in the 1983 World Cup.
Though the 2011 World Cup triumph would probably remain the closest to Dhoni’s heart, the 2013 Champions Trophy win would be dear too, considering the distractions he had to handle.
By overcoming them successfully, Dhoni and his men have made the 30th year celebrations of the maiden World Cup win all the more memorable.