India's comprehensive seven-wicket win over Pakistan in the ICC World Twenty20 Super-10 opener has impressed the pundits. After all, it was India's first international win against a major team in 2014 after scoring victories over lower-ranked Bangladesh and Afghanistan in the Asia Cup earlier this month. (Scorecard | Highlights)
What was really heartening to see was that, in a highly anticipated clash, it was India, who clearly won the battle of nerves and skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni deserved the credit for it. Former India skipper and NDTV expert Sunil Gavaskar said Dhoni looked refreshed after returning from a break from international cricket due to the muscle strain late last month. (Read: Mishra thanks Dhoni for his support)
"Mahendra Singh Dhoni was on top of his game. He is refreshed after the break that he had when he didn't play the Asia Cup. Captaincy can take a lot out of you and you tend to come back better after a bit of break and that's exactly what has happened with Dhoni," Gavaskar told NDTV in an exclusive chat on Friday night. (Read: MS Dhoni impressed by Amit Mishra's exploits vs Pakistan)
Dhoni juggled his bowlers around effectively to keep Pakistan batsmen on their toes. By the end of eight overs, Dhoni had already used five of his bowlers and the sixth by the 11th over.
Former India wicketkeeper-batsman Farooq Engineer heaped praises on Dhoni after the way he judged the situation and marshaled his troops accordingly. "This was MS Dhoni at his best today. He knew that the Pakistan batsmen were shaky, nervous and he never allowed them to settle in. He captained magnificently today and the bowlers responded in the same way," Engineer told NDTV.
As India romped home easily with nine balls to spare, Gavaskar felt the margin of victory was very promising and the kudos should go to the openers who gave India a good start.
"I am very happy with the way the openers played. Even though they weren't under any pressure, they made sure they added 50 runs for the opening stand. Once they had laid the foundation, it was only a matter of time to see India winning," he said.
Gavaskar went on to praise Virat Kohli (36 off 32 balls) who once again played a crucial role in a run-chase for India.
"Virat Kohli has scored a lot of runs all over the world and there is a sense of calm in the way he plays. He is a positive player and always has a good impact on his batting partner," Gavaskar said.
Gavaskar and Engineer also felt that Pakistan, who once again failed to go past India in a World Cup match, never looked like they were in the game at any point. Pakistan have now lost four out four matches to India in T20 World Cups (twice in 2009, once in 2012 and 2014) and five times in ODI World Cups (1992, 1996 1999, 2003 and 2011). (Stats: India maintain 100 percent win record against Pakistan in World Cups)
"I think Pakistan were too tensed going into the game. They tend to pressurize themselves whenever they are playing India in a World Cup scenario. They don't play as freely as compared to the way they play India in the Asia Cups or a bilateral series," Gavaskar said.