Your flight might have landed at the airport but officially you don't really arrive in a new country until the immigration is cleared.
On Friday evening it seemed Team India eventually crossed that final hurdle to make their mighty presence felt at the Dubai International Stadium for the first time in this ICC Men's T20 World Cup. Perhaps, it has been a bit too late for them but the Indian team that appeared against Scotland had no resemblance whatsoever (barring the physical one of course) to the ones that featured in their previous two encounters here against Pakistan and New Zealand.
Yes, Scotland were a comparatively weaker team and indeed it was a mismatch but one should not also ignore the ruthlessness that India showed on their part — be it with ball or bat. It all started with skipper Virat Kohli finally winning a toss on his 33rd birthday.
Well, nobody would have expected India to lose against Scotland even if Kohli had lost another toss, but from the Net Run Rate point of view, ideally, India were looking to bowl first to use the unevenness of the pitch in the first half, which has been a trend here in Dubai. They also picked three frontline spinners in the playing eleven, as predicted by Cricket.com before.
Eventually, when they got their wish at the toss, the players executed the gameplan with sheer ruthlessness. Right from the first ball, Jasprit Bumrah targeted the stumps. He began with a slew of yorkers in the first over and at the other end Kohli unleashed Varun Chakaravarthy's mystery spin against batters who are not accustomed to play quality slow bowling.
The intent was crystal clear from India — attack, attack and attack. Bumrah was asked to bowl his second over inside the powerplay, which Kohli doesn't often do under normal circumstances. It shows the aggressive mindset of the Indian team in this game. They wanted to wrap things up, as early as possible.
The spells bowled by Mohammed Shami and Ravindra Jadeja on those middle overs broke the backbone of the Scottish batting. The duo ticked every box that they might have listed down before the game and got six for 30 in their seven overs combined.
Shami bowled fuller length, at the stumps whereas Jadeja's left-arm spin finally found its mojo back. They did not get the best of the conditions to bowl against Pakistan and New Zealand but on Friday night it seemed like a different pitch altogether.
Both of them were deadly accurate and gave no respite to the batters, which mounted the pressure on the Scots and resulted in wickets. The odd-ball was stopping and turning which played into the hands of Jadeja, who registered his career-best bowling figures in T20Is, 3 for 15.
In fact, amongst the three Indian spinners, it was Ravichandran Ashwin, who looked a bit off-colour and gave away 29 runs in his four overs with a lone scalp to his name. Chakravarthy, on the other hand, failed to get a breakthrough but bowled economically.
Nevertheless, having ended the Scottish resistance at 85, it was the turn of Indian batters to have their say in the match. And KL Rahul along with Rohit Sharma did exactly that. In order to get past the NRR of Afghanistan and New Zealand, India had to complete the chase within 43 deliveries.
Well, they did it in 39, courtesy to Rahul’s 18-ball half-century — second-fastest by an Indian in T20Is after Yuvraj Singh’s memorable 12-ball 50 against England way back in 2007 World T20.
Finally, the Indian diaspora in Dubai had something to cheer for. At least their team is still alive in the competition, with the semi-final hopes resting on Afghanistan beating New Zealand on Sunday (November 7).
Ideally, the fans would have wanted Team India to peak a bit early in this World Cup. But as they say, better late than never.