Will India stumble at last huddle?

HARARE - The final edition of the ICC Champions Trophy has had a bit of everything to it.

Everything that makes cricket the spell bounding and absorbing game that we all live for.

Up to this point, India have undoubtedly been the team to beat.

Their top-order have been amazing, and, amazingly, their fielders have been right up there with the rest of the fielding sides.

I use the word amazingly with all respect and kindness.

Those who have followed `Indian cricket over the years will agree that although they have produced some of the world’s best batsmen and bowlers, fielding has been the one area that has let the team down rather badly.

Weather it is because of the bumpy outfields many of the grounds have in India, one will never really know.

But, what has become very apparent over the last five or so years, is the marked improvement in the Indian fielding department.

One would have to give a lot of that credit to Gary Kirsten.

When the former South African left-hander took over, the team were average in the field, and pretty unfit as well.

Five years down the line, India have developed into an allround unit who have a quality bowling attack, and a batting line up who will make most bowlers wish that they were wicketkeepers instead.

Add the revitalised fielding to the mix, and, you have a winning combination.

MS Dhoni is also by far and away the world's best captain. True, it does help when you are surrounded by an abundance of talent, but, he is a captain who leads from the front and by example.

And, he is not afraid to be innovative either, as he showed the rest of the world in the semifinal when he whipped of his gloves, and promptly bowled a few overs of more than useful in swingers.

This gesture may have come across as being arrogant, but, a true lover and follower of the game would simply sit back and appreciate a true genius at work.

Zimbabweans watching the game would probably have experienced a nostalgic pang when Dhoni took the ball, as they would have remembered their much loved and dearly missed little hero Tatenda Taibu doing exactly the same thing against Sri Lanka back in 2004.

England have gone about their business in a very quiet manner.

India have pretty much swept everybody aside with contemptuous ease, hardly breaking a sweat when playing the round robin matches.

Their batsmen have been aggressive and positive upfront, while England have approached matters the old fashion way.

The home side have been quite content to ensure that they keep wickets in hand, and then turn it on at the back end of the innings.

England are also fortunate to be blessed with a number of very good swing and seam bowlers who are capable of bowling in excess of 140KPH.

They also have two quality spinners in Graeme Swann and James Tredwell who has often had to look on from the side lines.

So, if the weather plays fair, we should be in for a fascinating contest between bat and ball, as well as two captains who are very good at playing mind games.

The tournament in general has been something that cricket has lacked for a very long time.

This is due to the overwhelming and nauseating amount of Twenty20 cricket that has been played.

We witnessed a wonderful run chance by Sri Lanka against England, as well as those two unwelcome gentlemen messes Duckworth and Luis play their part, which sadly saw the West Indies packing their bags as well.

South Africa once again lived up to their reputation of chocking when it really mattered, while Australia were well and truly outplayed and ended up being the whipping boys.

After the final, England and New Zealand meet each other in two T20 internationals, where a certain Zimbabwean born and breed Gary Ballance will be making his international debut for England.

In short, the less said about that, the better. But, this travesty of justice could so easily have been prevented if matters off the field had been in order.

Players such as Ballance, the Ervine brothers, Charles Coventry, all of who are still playing the game could and indeed should have been plying their trade in Zimbabwe, and not in foreign countries.

The argument to that would be that there are a number of South Africans playing for England.

The simple answer to that is.

South Africa are still the world's number one ranked test team, and, a powerhouse in world cricket.

Zimbabwe on the other hand… - Dean du Plessis

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