Mahendra Singh Dhoni hailed India as cricket’s bounceback kings after they again followed up an early defeat in a major tournament with an emphatic win and kickstarted their bid for World Twenty20 glory.
After their shock defeat on Tuesday to New Zealand in their first match, the hosts cruised to a six-wicket victory over arch rivals Pakistan in Kolkata late Saturday.
The defeat against New Zealand had put a question mark over India’s status as red-hot favourites and triggered accusations of complacency.
But in a cauldron-like atmosphere of a packed Eden Gardens, Dhoni’s men held their nerve and reached the target of 119 with 13 balls remaining.
The bounceback from the humiliating 47-run reverse against the Kiwis came as no surprise to veteran skipper Dhoni who was captain when India won the inaugural World T20 in 2007 and the 2011 ODI World Cup after stuttering starts to their campaign.
India’s prospects looked grim in 2011 after their first two matches against a traditional powerhouse included a tie with England followed by defeat to South Africa.
India also got off to a slow start in 2007 when they tied with Pakistan before winning a bowl-out and then lost to New Zealand.
“If you see we have been in this position many times. We know how to turn it around,” said Dhoni.
The man known as “Captain Cool” pointed out that India followed up their defeat in a 2014 Test series against England with victory in the ODIs and an otherwise poor recent tour of Australia ended with India beating their hosts 3-0 in the T20s.
Dhoni hit the winning runs at the finale in Kolkata where he played second fiddle to batting maestro Virat Kohli.
Kohli appeared supremely calm during his unbeaten knock of 55, which was more than double the next highest score by a batsman on either side.