Five reasons why India won the tri-series final

Dhoni-Kohli.jpg

India may not have had the momentum going into the tri-series final as they did in the Champions Trophy. They also did not had the invincible aura they had created at the Champions Trophy. Add to this two humiliating defeats at the start of the series, and it becomes apparent why India’s triumph is well-earned. The Sri Lankan side is no pushover. They are a formidable side infamous for not sparing any opportunity to topple its opponents. With the two sides going head to head in the final, a moment of weakness was all that the Lankans needed to demolish Team India. From the toss of the coin to the 298th legitimate ball in India's innings which Dhoni sent flying past the boundary, India battled for a chance at victory even when defeat loomed large. In the end, five crucial events became the lynchpins for India’s success:
Morale boost from Dhoni’s return: In the first match against West Indies, captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni suffered a hamstring injury and was declared out of the series. This demoralised the Indian players that led to one of the most humiliating defeats in the next match against Sri Lanka. While Virat Kohli managed to uplift the team and lead them to victory in the next game against West Indies, whether he would’ve been able to lead the team to victory in the final is questionable.
Dhoni’s return couldn't have come at a better time. Sri Lanka is a team that even the best fear to face on a regular day. At the final, it is fearsome tenfold. With Dhoni by its side, the Indian team had both the skills to defeat the Lankans as well as the courage to face the islanders head on.
Crumbling of Lankan batting: Both teams had less than impressive batting sessions. But of the two sides, the Lankans’ resembled more of a house of cards on a breezy afternoon than India’s. Kumar Sangakkara and Lahiru Thirimanne were the only two to get some runs, with Sangakkara contributing 71 and Thirimanne adding 46 to the total. Every other Lankan was an utter disappointment with the bat. The remaining nine batsmen could manage a meagre 61 runs on the board. To put that in comparison, Sangakkara contributed 10 more runs than the scores of nine of his teammates put together. And at the end of the day, the lack of stability in the Sri Lankan batting line-up worked fantastically in India’s favour.
Rohit Sharma and Suresh Raina partnership: Nothing frustrates bowlers more than batsmen who refuse to make mistakes. The frustration generally leads to bowlers committing errors. This is what the partnership between Rohit Sharma and Suresh Raina was able to achieve. While their partnership of 62 runs is small compared to the Sangakkara-Thirimanne partnership of 122 runs, the Sharma-Raina duo utilised just 49 balls and the latter used 148 balls. This means Sharma-Raina partnership had a run rate of 7.59, while Sangakkara-Thirimanne partnership had a run rate of 4.94. The quick runs added the necessary momentum to India's innings. Had it not been the quick runs taken during this partnership, Dhoni would have had to play a much different game when he came out to bat.
Rohit Sharma and MS Dhoni playing anchor: Indian batting session was better than the Lankan by a narrow margin. Both sides saw the tailenders walk back to the pavilion without making much impact on the scoreboard. Where India outdid the Lankans, however, was in their show of stability. Rohit Sharma and Mahendra Singh Dhoni were able to hold up the Indian batting line-up well enough to take them to victory. Even when wickets kept falling all around, both Sharma and Dhoni were able to keep their cool and add runs to their tally. This meant that though the battle for the trophy went down to the wire, they ensured that victory was never too far away. They played the anchor role to perfection.
Dhoni’s heavier bat:  At the end of the 49th over, Dhoni changed his bat. The Lankans would probably have had no idea at that time the difference a heavier bat can make. From the brink of winning the match, the Lankans were made mute spectators to see their downfall in front of their eyes. Of the four deliveries in the last over, three were quickly sent off to the boundary. Dhoni proved yet again why the tag of ‘Captain Cool’ has been bestowed on him. While most players would panic or give up, Dhoni, knowing he had to pull off a few epic shots, calmly asked for a different bat. Just like a golfer uses different clubs for different shots, Dhoni uses different bats for different scenarios. With a much heavier bat than before, sending the balls flying over the boundary was a piece of cake for the 'Iceman'.

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