London, June 6: India couldn't have hoped for a better start to their ICC Champions Trophy campaign. Sunday's (June 4) victory at Edgbaston was comprehensive in every sense of the word. Did anything not go India's way against Pakistan? Well, I don't think so. In fact, everything went according to plan.
The opening stand between Rohit Sharma and Shikhar Dhawan was worth 136 priceless runs. What it did was help India build a solid platform. True to his nature, Virat Kohli banished the demons of an underwhelming IPL campaign and produced a captain's knock at number three. His performance was just fantastic. (Yuvraj dedicates award to cancer survivors)
That said, the man who stole the show with his brilliant hitting was none other than Yuvraj Singh. The kind of innings he played was simply mind-blowing. That is Yuvi for you. When it comes to ICC tournaments, I doubt I can think of any other player that rises to the occasion as frequently and as brilliantly as Yuvraj. Not only did the left-handed veteran take the pressure off Kohli's shoulders, but he also entertained the crowd with his unique style of batting. Wow, what a knock that was! No wonder, then, that he was adjudged the player of the match.
Such victories boost the team's collective confidence. Apart from Sharma, Dhawan, Kohli and Yuvraj, it was great to see Hardik Pandya play that wonderful cameo. His clean-as-a-whistle hits over the fence sucked the life out of Pakistan. It was just fantastic to watch.
Simply put, India could not have asked for a better opening fixture. Yes, the opposition was Pakistan and pressure was always going to be a huge factor. But the boys performed very well. In fact, it never seemed that India was under any sort of pressure. That's the level at which they played today. The boys went out and expressed themselves. It was heartening to see the bowlers complementing the batsmen. To beat Pakistan is a big achievement in itself; and to thrash them by more than 100 runs is just awesome!
Sunday's performance proved how much the team believes in its collective ability. To be frank, India will be unstoppable if they continue to play this brand of cricket.
The moment we crossed the 300-run-mark, I was confident that the scales had tilted in our favour. After all, Pakistan's batting line-up is way too inexperienced. And I was proved right.
I can't stop talking about Yuvraj. To smash a 32-ball 53 in a high pressure game is just classy. I would also like to congratulate our bowlers. The bowling unit didn't give Pakistan any chance of fighting their way back into the match. That's a huge positive. It was the perfect game for India, a 10-on-10 performance. This will surely lift the confidence of the team and help them do better in bigger games over the course of the tournament.
This column appeared first on www.icc-cricket.com
(Harbhajan is one of the ambassadors for Champions Trophy. He has played 103 Tests, 236 ODIs and 28 T20Is for India from 1998 to 2016, taking 417, 269 and 25 wickets respectively. He is one of the very few cricketers to have won all the three ICC major tournaments, ICC Champions Trophy in 2002, ICC World Twenty20 in 2007 and ICC Cricket World Cup in 2011)