As always, Sachin Tendulkar used the power play way better than his mates. Rohit Sharma fell early, Shikhar Dhawan-Virat Kohli took their time in the first ten. But Tendulkar just pulled out his phone and took a selfie.
Yet again, he buzzed us. From that moment on, India started to slowly, single by single, go almost unnoticed into control mode. Much as Phil Hughes was in Adelaide, Sachin Tendulkar was the 13th man in Melbourne.
In the last few months, in spite of being in the playing eleven, Dhawan appeared to be more like the 12th man. Commentary often pointed out how he was aloof, uninvolved, not quite there.
"The issue with Shikhar has always been confidence. Once he feels confident and at home, he can take on any opposition." - Madan Sharma, Shikhar Dhawan's coach
In the Tests down under, he had starts that went nowhere. Got dropped, picked for the tri-series, barely wangled a start there. In between all that, the much denied episode with Kohli.
It wasn't a good time to be Shikhar Dhawan.
But most of this World Cup squad had been written in stone for more than a year. If nothing else, Dhawan had the back-up of that belief.
In the 2013 ICC Champions Trophy that India won, he knocked off two centuries and a 50 in five games. In all, Dhawan has seven ODI centuries. India has won all seven games.
As I mentioned here last week, Dhawan scores in clusters and this could well be the start of one such cluster.
"I would say that the people who were asking why Shikhar was there in the (World Cup) squad don't know their cricket." - Ravi Shasri, India team director
On January 30, the first leg of India's Australia tour ended. A little over a week later was their first World Cup warm-up match. Something happened to Dhawan and his mates in that break from cricket.From a condemned bunch, they started to play like world champions again.
After beating South Africa, Ravi Shastri referred to the tri-series as the "BLOODY Triangular" and how the World Cup was the real deal - how the players were tired and the break was a blessing.
If switching off for a week can make the Indian team play like this, imagine what thoughtful itineraries could achieve?
Such as two key World Cup matches, a week apart, both on a Sunday with a leisurely 9am start for viewers back home. Imagine waking up across the border in Lahore at 3am, only to see your team drop five and then refuse to catch up at 1/4.
As for us, one full week to gloat over that Pak defeat and another six days to toast the South Africa result. Throw in some Star Sports' promos that seem even funnier because the joke's on them. Follow that up with two noon starts, both on the weekend again, and I'm wondering whether this World Cup has been designed for the Indian viewer.
Even the initial #WeWontGiveItBack campaign doesn't seem that farfetched now.
Unlikely India will test the bench against West Indies, Ireland or Zimbabwe, but will they against UAE? Seeing as the quarter final spot isn't sealed, with ample breaks between matches, India should stick with the best eleven - one they foresee playing in the knockouts.
If anything, Dhoni could look to bat himself up the order against UAE. Who knows, maybe even Jadeja can treat himself to more than a swing and a miss.
The top-order batting in the first two games has been spot on, just as the middle order has been in more than a spot of bother. Sampler: Against Pakistan, India crawled from 273/3 (45.2) to 300/7 (50). Against South Africa, India slunk from 269/4 (44.5) to 307/7. Over to you with the bat, Mahi.
First published in daily O
First published in daily O