The captain is outstanding

Dhoni gets 90% and three others, including Yuvraj, 80, as Nandita Sridhar unveils her report card for the Indian team at the Twenty20 World Championship.

The most unforgettable two weeks in modern-day Indian cricket were, as Dhoni said, a result of a team effort. From stretching the match against Pakistan to a bowl-out, to the thrilling climax against the same team, India had squeezed in everything required for a team to click in Twenty20.

The atmosphere was perfectly tailored to make the Indians feel at home, and the final in front of a packed house at the Wanderers was the perfect end to two heady weeks.

Here is a progress report of the Indian team which won the Twenty20 World Championship.

M. S. Dhoni

The first-time skipper had to hold together a bunch of men on the world stage of a new format. Even if he felt the pressure, not once did Dhoni show it. The 26-year-old understood the abilities of his teammates and planned things accordingly. The decision to bat first when offered the option and his tactics while managing the bowlers were the high points of his captaincy.

He did win five tosses in a row, which made sure his team did not have to chase in the crunch matches. The only time he chose to field was in the match India lost to New Zealand.

Trusting Joginder Sharma’s medium pace to slow down Misbah-ul-Haq in the final over of the tournament was possibly the biggest decision he had to take. Summing up his captaincy, Dhoni backed himself to do the right thing, and it worked for him.

Barring the occasional show of unorthodoxy, his batting was subdued, and his wicket-keeping was largely passable. But as a captain, Dhoni was near-perfect. 9/10.

Yuvraj Singh

He played two crucial innings, one that ended a two-week old trauma from the England tour, and one that took the team to the final. Yuvraj took some time to acclimatise to the conditions and the format. His innings against England not only put him in the record books, but gave the side a sudden burst of energy in the do-or-die match.

Periods of play, like the 19th over of the Indian innings against England, can have an instant and a massively positive effect on a team. In that context, Yuvraj’s six sixes proved invaluable to the team’s cause.

The 70 against Australia came when the run-rate required bettering. What stood out in both these crucial knocks, was the striking of the ball. It was clean, powerful and seemed effortless. 8/10.

R. P. Singh

With India playing most of its matches in Durban under the lights, R. P. Singh was a handful. The left-armer exploited the conditions in Durban perfectly. The ball tended to swing under the lights, and he got it to arc into the right-hander in effecting some of his dismissals.

His outstanding performance came against South Africa in India’s final group match. He bowled just the right length for his four wickets for 13 runs in four overs.

Equally crucial were his Pakistani top-order victims in the final that set up the glorious Indian win, and helped him finish with 12 wickets in the tournament. His dismissals weren’t the consequences of slogs, but were effected by unplayable deliveries. 8/10.

Gautam Gambhir

He scored three fifties in six matches at an average of 37.83, including a match-winning 75 in the final. But despite that, Gambhir’s efforts have largely gone unnoticed when compared to those of his teammates.

The opener usually saw off the first few overs with Virender Sehwag and launched the assault thereafter. He sometimes showed too much ambition in his shot-selection, but when he did pull it off, it was a sight to behold. He showed a willingness to innovate and put the cut shots to good use.

His knock in the final was worth a man-of-the-match award, for the fearlessness in his batting and the ability to generate the bat-speed required to score on a sluggish wicket. Gambhir had exceeded expectations in the tournament. 8/10.

Irfan Pathan

Pathan was utilised well by Dhoni, who made sure that a left-arm bowler operated during critical periods of play. Pathan was mostly used as a first-change option, but came in to bowl much later in the final. It worked for the team, as he scalped three critical middle-order victims, when it looked like the Pakistanis were getting closer to the target.

The technical adjustments he had made to his action worked well in South Africa, and his bowling stood out for the energy and his attitude. This was a man making a comeback.

He struck a couple of big sixes in India’s first game, but was effective largely as a bowler. 7.5/10.

Rohit Sharma

He played just three matches, but optimised the limited opportunities on offer. He was unbeaten in all three innings, facing just five balls against Australia.

Sharma’s performances deserve appreciation for his fearless hitting and a willingness to adapt.

Against South Africa, he waited a while before attacking the bowling after the team was in some crisis. He had no such luxuries in the match against Australia and in the final. He took the Indian total past 150 in the final with a massive six, remaining unbeaten on a crucial 30. For someone with such limited international exposure, Sharma was outstanding.

His fielding was energetic, and his throwing, spot-on. He was India’s find of the tournament. 7.5/10.

Harbhajan Singh

Harbhajan belonged to a breed that was perceived as doomed. Spinners were not expected to do well. This was Twenty20, and this was South Africa. The off-spinner set about changing that from his first match.

The yorkers were summoned with ease, and so were the ones that beat the bat and struck the pad. He understandably got carted around, but sneaked in crucial wickets. Prime examples were the wickets of Kevin Pietersen in the super-eight and Michael Clarke in the semifinal, which titled the balance firmly in India’s favour. The three sixes Misbah-ul-Haq hit off him in an over are still a bit of a blot, but Harbhajan can afford to be satisfied with his performance. 7/10.

Virender Sehwag

Part of India’s comeback trio, Sehwag played one knock of importance, and another that promised a lot, but ended quicker than expected. Sehwag showcased both aspects of his batting. He played some audacious strokes with customary still-footedness, but succumbed to the caress outside the offstump.

His campaign was hampered after he pulled a thigh muscle in the semifinal, and couldn’t play in the final.

Summing up his run, Sehwag promised plenty, but did not entirely deliver. It was left to his opening partner to shoulder more responsibility. 6/10.

Joginder Sharma

Dhoni obviously saw something in Joginder. His medium pace was possibly the only thing that could have slowed down Misbah in the final.

The pressure of bowling the last over of the tournament to a man on a rampage would have been enormous.

His two wickets against Australia came when the Aussies had all but lost the match, but the scene was different in the final.

Harbhajan had gone for runs and Joginder had gone for a six himself. It took one of the slowest deliveries from Joginder to make sure Misbah’s scoop-shot did not clear the ropes. 6/10.

S. Sreesanth

Sreesanth had a mixed tournament. It could have gone worse if it weren’t for the wickets of Mark Boucher and A. B. de Villiers in the match against South Africa.

This timely performance brought out the best in him against Australia. He had troubled Adam Gilchrist and Matthew Hayden throughout his spell, and picked both their wickets with pace and accuracy. His customary visit to the match referee did not go down too well with Dhoni, after the former was fined for excessive appealing. Sreesanth dislocated Hayden’s stumps that turned the match on its head and sparked off theatrics. He was expensive in the final, but took possibly the most difficult catch of his career in what was the last ball of the tournament. 6/10.

Robin Uthappa

A lot was expected after his fifty in India’s first match against Pakistan, but Uthappa failed to latch on to the opportunities on offer. Going for a little too much while mirroring the likes of Yuvraj and Dhoni cost him his wicket. He was reduced to playing a supporting role to Yuvraj in the semifinal, where he scored 34.

His fielding, especially his throwing, was exemplary. His running out of Imran Nazir in the final, as Shoaib Malik admitted later, was the turning point of the match. 5.5/10.

Yusuf Pathan

It’s ideally not fair to rate someone based on one match. Yusuf’s first ever international was the final against Pakistan. He opened the batting, almost got himself run-out, smacked a six and made his way back.

He bowled just six balls of his off-breaks for five runs. A decent start, if not a rollicking one, to his career. 5.5/10.

Dinesh Karthik

It was a disappointing tournament for Karthik. His shot-selection was below-par, and he played in just three matches, mostly as a replacement option.

His only show of brilliance came in the match against South Africa, when he took a stunning catch in the slips. He did come in handy when Dhoni hurt his back and couldn’t keep wickets. 4/10.

Ajit Agarkar

What was Agarkar doing in a Twenty20 squad? Someone who operates by gifting runs when trying for wickets was bound to be a liability in such a tournament. His economy rates in the two matches he played were 8.75 and 10. And he had just one wicket to show for that. No compensation was made with the bat. 3/10.