Opinion: Changes India need to make in their a…

Team India will have to re-think a few of their strategies

Authoritative cricket in the initial stages of the tournament, one standout performer who overcomes all the challenges posed by the oppositions. A resolute performance towards the business end of the tournament, yet falling short by a few steps.

Unfortunately, this trend of ‘so close, but so far’ has been persisting for India in the ICC tournaments for some years now. From the 2014 World T20, India have been consistently making it to the semi-finals of all the ICC events.

However, they have not been able to cross the knockout stages, leading to huge disappointment among fans and in the process, posing serious questions in the minds of the captain and team management.

While India have been the most consistent team in the world in the past few years, winning bilateral series on all kinds of turfs across formats, things just do not seem to go in favour of Men in Blue at the global events.

There are a few shortcomings, which have been consistently exploited in the knockout games. Here is a look a four possible changes that can be made to turn the fortunes in India’s favor.

Note: The views of the author need not necessarily reflect the views of Sportskeeda.

#4 Drafting a specialist batsman into the middle order

Shubman Gill should be nurtured for the future

The Men in Blue have been facing the middle order conundrum since the last World Cup held in 2015. They have been excessively reliant on the top 3 in Rohit Sharma, Shikhar Dhawan and Virat Kohli to deliver the goods. Apart from these three, the onus has been on MS Dhoni to deliver the goods, given his wealth of experience.

A great number of permutations and combinations have been tried to fix the middle muddle, but one error that has remained constant is that very few out of the selected individuals are regular batsmen. Predominantly, the middle order has seen the presence wicket-keepers and all-rounders such as Rishabh Pant, Dinesh Karthik, Kedar Jadhav, Vijay Shankar and Hardik Pandya.

While all the above-mentioned names are good players, they seem to be better suited in the shoes of a finisher. India requires technically sound quintessential batsmen to be drafted into the side, who can be trusted to anchor the innings in any situation.

Conventionally, every team has at least five regular, technically sound batsmen to provide solidarity to the department. This has been the characteristic of most of the teams in this World Cup, and also of the Indian squad in the previous decade.

Sachin Tendulkar, Gautam Gambhir, Virender Sehwag, Sourav Ganguly, Rahul Dravid and Yuvraj Singh were some of the iconic batsmen who ensured that that the Indian batting remained a force to reckon with.

While the addition of wicketkeepers and all rounders is not essentially a bad idea, emphasis must be laid on the fact whether they have the technique and temperament to anchor the innings. In the context of the Indian scenario, players like Mayank Agarwal, Shubhman Gill, and Shreyas Iyer can be given a go in the middle order.

#3 Consistency in strategy

There has been a great uncertainty over Shami’s role in the team

Captain Virat Kohli, along with the team management has laid emphasis on dissecting the tasks into small parts and allocating them to particular individuals. However, the execution seems to be missing, which has been quite contradictary to the game plan.

For instance, Dinesh Karthik had asserted some days back that the team allotted a very specific role to him, which is to finish the innings. However, the first semi final saw him walk at No.5, at a precarious situation when India were staring down the barrel at 5-3.

Similarly, Kohli had claimed in the game against Australia that Mohammad Shami would be given a go when the conditions would be overcast. However, despite picking 14 wickets in 4 matches, Shami was not picked for the semi final against New Zealand at Manchester, where the conditions were overcast ahead of the game.

This inconsistent approach seems to be persisting in the team for quite some time now. Another fact to testify this is the exclusion of Ravichandran Ashwin in the league game against Pakistan in Champions Trophy 2017, wherein Kohli said that he played three pacers as the Pakistan batsmen were good at facing spin.

However, the final between the same two sides saw Ashwin drafted into the playing XI, and he went wicketless, giving away 70 runs from his 10 overs.

It would be prudent for the team to adopt and follow a strong strategy, and more importantly, be consistent in its execution, so as to seize the big moments in big games.

#2 Backing the young players

Shreyas Iyer could be due for a spot in the national side

Rome was not built in a day. Similarly, it is not possible for players to transform overnight, and play match defining knocks for their country. However, if the players are backed, with technical and more importantly, emotional support, they can certainly mature into match winners.

This has been the pattern in the evolution of match winners like Yuvraj Singh, Virender Sehwag, Suresh Raina and Rohit Sharma, who received the support from their captains Sourav Ganguly and MS Dhoni.

In the test squad, senior performers like Cheteshwar Pujara, Ajinkya Rahane and Bhuvneshwar Kumar have been wary of their place in the squad. Ravindra Jadeja has also been kept out of the squad despite convincing performances.

Ambati Rayudu, who was being groomed for the No.4 spot for the World Cup, was ruled out in favour of Vijay Shankar on the basis of just one series. However, this is just the tip of the iceberg. The list also comprises of the likes of Shreyas Iyer and Manish Pandey, who were once the contenders for the No.4 spot.

It becomes imperative for the captain and team management to back the young players n every way possible, so as to extract maximum productivity from them and groom them for the future.

#1 Out of the box captaincy

Virat’s captaincy moves have not been able to startle the oppositions, unlike his predecessors

Innovation is the pre-requisite for leadership. It enables the leader to bring in dynamism in his approach to guide his team members in a turbulent environment. In a game like cricket, it becomes even more necessary, considering the exogenous factors such as the pitch and the weather that come into play.

ICC tournaments have a rich legacy, which has been decorated by the heroics of the skippers of the winning sides. While it was the fiery knock of Clive Lloyd in 1975, it was a nerve racking catch by Kapil Dev which enabled the captains to win the World Cup respectively for their sides. Similarly, the introduction of pinch hitting in the first ten overs by Arjun Ranatunga in 1996, and the self-promotion of MS Dhoni in 2011 ensured that Sri Lanka and India respectively win the titles.

Such an approach has been found wanting in the captaincy of Virat Kohli. While he boasts of a good captaincy record, he has been a very orthodox captain. From using only five bowlers, to being reluctant to use a part time bowler, and having a rigid batting order, Kohli has not undertaken any out of the box move to startle the opposition.

While the Indian skipper was very proactive in the World Cup, a surprising move was still missing from the captaincy, including the promotion of Dhoni in the semi-final, which could have forced the result in India’s favour.

World Cup 2019: How will the last two league m…

After some thrilling matches and riveting performances, the ICC World Cup 2019 is nearing its business end, with just 2 games remaining in the league phase. With Pakistan now being mathematically eliminated, the four semi-finalists are decided, namely India, Australia, England and New Zealand.

However, what is not decided, is the final positions of the top two teams. Hence, though the last two league games might be dead rubbers, they have a huge significance in the context of the line up of the semi-finals.

As of now, defending champions Australia are placed at the apex of the points table, with 7 wins and a loss in their 8 matches. India are placed just a spot below, with 6 wins, 1 No-Result and a solitary loss in their 8 games.

England and New Zealand are scheduled to end the league phase at the third and fourth spots respectively. With the top two teams taking the field in the final league games, the individual teams who would be locking horns against each other in the semi-final are yet to be confirmed.

The updated points table after Pakistan vs Bangladesh clash

In the first game, Virat Kohli’s men would be taking on Sri Lanka in Headingley at Leeds. The last league match shall be taking place between Aaron Finch’s troops and South Africa at the Old Trafford Cricket Ground in Manchester.

The fate of these two games can decide the semi-final line up in the following ways (assuming that both the games shall end either in a win or a loss):

#1 If India win and Australia lose

In such a scenario, India would climb to the top of the points table, with 15 points against their name, while Australia would occupy the second spot with 14 points.

In the case of this event, India would travel to Manchester to play their semi-final clash against New Zealand, while Australia would head for Birmingham to lock horns with archrivals England.

#2 If Australia win their match

In case Australia manages to beat South Africa, then the top 2 teams shall remain on their incumbent positions, irrespective of the result that India achieve.

This would see a repeat of the 2015 World Cup Final; the Trans-Tasmanian clash, in the first semi-final. India would travel to Birmingham to take on hosts England in the second semi-final.

World Cup 2019: Three concerns that still rema…

India, pitted to be one of the pre-tournament favorites, have lived up to their reputation in the World Cup. The Men in Blue have had a dominant run so far, having made it to the semi-final stage with a game to spare. Having won 6 out of its 8 matches, with a no-result and a solitary loss, the team is comfortably placed at the second spot in the points table.

This has been possible on account of an all-round effort by India, ticking most of the boxes. While Rohit Sharma has raced to the top run-getter’s spot, registering 4 hundreds, captain Virat Kohli hit five consecutive half centuries to anchor the innings in the middle overs. In the bowling department, Jasprit Bumrah and Mohammad Shami have delivered the goods on every occasion, while Hardik Pandya has been the x-factor with the bat as well as the ball.

Given these outstanding credentials, some concerns still remain to be addressed in the World Cup campaign of the subcontinental giants. The team would be wanting to solve these issues in the last league game against Sri Lanka, ahead of their semi final clash.

#3 The sixth bowler

The sixth bowler is essential for India to support the main bowlers

The bowlers have essayed majority of the wins for India in this tournament, including a nerve-racking effort to defend a paltry 225 against Afghanistan. The fast bowlers as well as the spinners have shown great temperament and control even in the toughest circumstances

However, one thing that has been lacking in this department is the presence of a sixth bowler. Virat Kohli has been reluctant to use a sixth bowler, even when the full time bowlers were under attack. On the contrary, teams such as Australia and New Zealand have even resorted to using eight bowlers in such situations, with skippers Aaron Finch and Kane Williamson respectively rolling their arms, and also tasting success.

This was one thing that cost India dearly in the game against England, and even after the presence of Kedar Jadhav, he was not handed the ball. His sacking in the favour of Dinesh Karthik leaves India with only five bowlers, without any contingency plan should a bowler have a bad day.

#2 Failure of batsmen other than Rohit Sharma to convert starts

Rohit Sharma has been single-handedly winning games for India in the batting department

Although Rohit Sharma tops the batting charts with 544 runs, a team performance has been found wanting, in this department, excepting the game against Australia. Out of the 5 individual centuries that have been scored by the Indian batsmen in this tournament, 4 have come from the bat of Rohit and the fifth from Shikhar Dhawan, who has been ruled out due to injury.

Another performer has been Virat Kohli, with 408 runs in 7 matches. The team, which has been heavily dependent on the top 3, Rohit, Dhawan and Kohli, is now over-reliant on the skipper and his deputy.

While Kohli has scored five consecutive half-centuries, he is yet to score a hundred in this tournament. KL Rahul has had a few good starts, but has failed to score big. The No. 4 conundrum continues to persist, with no one being able to make the position his own, let alone scoring big.

This factor hampered the Indian chase against England after the departure of Rohit, and also applied brakes on the score board post his departures in the games against Bangladesh and West Indies.

#1 The finishing fiasco

MS Dhoni has been left waging a lone war in the death overs

The middle-order muddle has been a major problem for team India since quite some time now. With the team being brimmed with wicketkeepers and all-rounders, there has been a lack of quintessential batsmen in the team.

India has been underwhelming in the last ten overs in most of the games, after being in the driver’s seat in the middle overs. Hardik Pandya’s promotion after flourishing start leaves little support for MS Dhoni towards the death overs. Further, there has been a sudden collapse in the overs 36-40, with the set batsmen departing, which has forced Dhoni to adopt a cautious approach. Due to this, India has not been able to get the ace up their sleeve in the slog overs and exert more pressure on the opposition with an indomitable score.

India made an attempt to address this aspect with the addition of Dinesh Karthik into the squad against Bangladesh. Although, he could not score well in his debut World Cup game, it would be prudent for the team to back him and Dhoni to give a boost to the innings towards the end.

World Cup 2019: Do India need to change anythi…

The Indian team

India continued their dominant run in the World Cup, recording a convincing win against West Indies by 125 runs. With this win, India have jumped to second place in the points table and they remain the only team to be unbeaten in the tournament.

Though the Caribbean players did not pose any serious challenge to India, there are a few areas that need to be addressed by Virat Kohli to increase the solidity of the team towards the business end of the tournament.

The middle muddle

Virat Kohli was the only successful batsman in the middle overs

India’s middle order woes came back to haunt them at Manchester. The wicket of KL Rahul triggered a collapse, with Vijay Shankar and Kedar Jadhav failing to make an impact. Kohli seemed to be the lone warrior in the middle overs, and had it not been some late striking from MS Dhoni and Hardik Pandya, India could have found themselves in hot water.

The injury to Shikhar Dhawan has turned out to be a big blow for India, not only due to the personal capacity, but also for the team balance. Not only has it left the team devoid of a left-handed batsman, it has also forced Rahul, who is a reliable middle order batsman, to open the innings with Rohit Sharma.

All-rounder Vijay Shankar has been passed on the baton to discharge the role of an anchor at No. 4. But that seems to be another problem in its own right.

The curious case of Vijay Shankar

Vijay Shankar has failed to create an impact

Vijay Shankar was picked by the selectors ahead of the likes of Rishabh Pant and Ambati Rayudu, and was backed to play at his incumbent position. He was acclaimed as a ‘three-dimensional’ player, on account of his multi-faceted abilities.

In the present scenario however, his contribution has been found wanting in all the three departments. While he has not been able to impress with the bat, he has been called to bowl only once, which was a forced decision on account to the injury to Bhuvneshwar Kumar in the middle of the clash against Pakistan.

Shankar has also not been the best of fielders, drawing flak from Hardik Pandya on his failure to convert a chance off the latter’s bowling against Afghanistan.

Spin to win is the formula at Edgbaston

The addition of Ravindra Jadeja to this trio can work wonders for India

Edgbaston has traditionally been a spinning track, as evident from the games that have been hosted at the venue in the past. The World Cup matches played here also bear testimony to the same. In fact, the match between New Zealand and Pakistan saw Kane Williamson turn a bowler, and he was also successful in picking up the wicket of Mohammad Hafeez.

The English batsmen were particularly susceptible against the Indian spinners when the two sides squared off on the British turf an year back. Spin twins Kuldeep Yadav and Yuzvendra Chahal picked up 11 out of the 19 wickets that England lost in that 3-match series.

With India having the two in their ranks, along with the mysterious Kedar Jadhav, the inclusion of Ravindra Jadeja could make this four-pronged Indian spin attack formidable.

Juggernaut Jadeja and his accuracy

Ravindra Jadeja has proven to be a dependable player

If accuracy is an art, then Ravindra Jadeja is Picasso. The claim to a place in the team over Vijay Shankar remains unproven, but Jadeja is certainly a multi-faceted player too. He is widely acclaimed for his bowling, having the ability to identify the right areas and pitch the ball continuously on them. Further, he can finish his overs in a quick span of time, which mounts pressure on the opposition.

Along with spinning the cherry, Jadeja is also capable of giving it a few whacks with the willow, and has proven himself to be a dependable finisher in the recent past.

The most important asset that he brings in for the side is his athleticism on the field, with his ability of producing run-outs out of nowhere.

Jadeja and his accuracy can prove handy in Birmingham, which is an ideal venue for spinners. His addition also gives a boost to the batting, with the 30-year-old being a brisk southpaw.

It also allows Dhoni to come to come in at No. 4 and take some time to settle, and set a platform with either of the top order batsmen for the finishers (including himself) to capitalize on in the death overs.

World Cup 2019: How India can solve the No. 4 …

The Indian team

India are having a great run in World Cup 2019, with their unbeaten streak running to five matches. The Men in Blue are comfortably placed at the third position in the points table and seem all but confirmed of a berth in the semifinals.

Though India have ticked all the boxes so far, there is one concern which needs to addressed in order to ensure better preparedness for the crucial encounters ahead.

After recording thumping wins against strong sides South Africa and Australia in their first two games, India faced a rude shock in the form of a thumb injury to in-form opener Shikhar Dhawan. The southpaw, who has been a vital cog in multinational tournaments, was ruled out of the tournament a couple of games later.

This led to the promotion of KL Rahul to the top of the order, and the inclusion of all-rounder Vijay Shankar in the middle order.

The return of the No. 4 conundrum

Vijay Shankar

India had been facing a middle order problem, particularly for the No. 4 spot, ever since the 2015 World Cup. More than 10 players had been tried in the place, but no one could make it his own.

The intent shown by Rahul in the warm-up game against Bangladesh came as a welcome relief for the team. However, Dhawan’s ouster forced him to open the innings with Rohit Sharma instead.

Thus, the No. 4 conundrum has resurfaced for India. Shankar doesn’t have too much experience of playing in England, which was evident in the games against Pakistan and Afghanistan. While he could barely get bat on ball against the arch-rivals, he was dismissed after getting set in a low-scoring affair against Afghanistan. Further, he is not used as a regular bowler by captain Virat Kohli.

The change that should be made

Dinesh Karthik

It would be prudent for India to include Dinesh Karthik in the playing XI against the West Indies. Karthik has been around for a while and has good experience of English conditions. Further, he can adapt to any situation really well, and is capable of rotating the strike as well as playing the big shots.

Karthik has carved a niche for himself as a finisher in the past 18 months, with his performance in the Nidahas Trophy being the standout.

The shuffle in the batting order

With the addition of Karthik into the squad, it would be apt to send in MS Dhoni at No. 4, so that he gets the time to settle in and unleash himself in the death overs. With a tremendous amount of of experience at his disposal, Dhoni can certainly play the anchor for India.

He should be followed by Kedar Jadhav at No. 5, who. Karthik and Hardik Pandya can then impart the finishing touches to the Indian innings, with their ability to whack the ball right from the word go being utilized to the fullest.

World Cup 2019: Scenario for another India vs …

India beat Pakistan by 89 runs (DLS method) in the league phase of World Cup 2019

India versus Pakistan is not just another match, it’s an event that has the capability to dramatically amplify things, be it pressure and excitement, or the advertisement outlay and the revenues of the ICC. It is the mother of all rivalries, on account of the numerous non-sport factors associated with it.

With the political tensions rising between the two nations, these games have become rarer, and far more intense for the fans, as they now have to wait for multinational tournaments to witness the clash of the arch-rivals.

One such occasion came on the 16th of June when the eternal rivals locked horns at the iconic stadium of Old Trafford in Manchester, a venue which had already been witness to a classic World Cup encounter between these sides two decades ago.

The atmosphere was intense if you were associated with a side on either part of the border. Every shot and wicket by one’s own side was grandly celebrated, while a similar act by the opponent evoked mixed responses of anxiety and exasperation. At the end of it, it was India, who, similarly to the past 6 occasions, managed to hand a thumping defeat to the arch-rivals. The victory was celebrated like a festival all over the nation as if the blue brigade had already won the World Cup. However, it evoked agitated responses in the neighbouring country, for whom the loss was no less than derision.

India vs Pakistan always gets the fans all pumped up

While the match was truly cherished by the fans, its conclusion also brought about a sense of dejection, of having to wait for another multinational tournament to witness this classic thriller. However, with the World Cup nearing its business end, there is a slender chance for this high voltage clash to materialize again, and at the same venue which has already been host to the iconic clash twice.

The first semi-final of the World Cup, that would be played on 9th July between the sides placed first and fourth on the table would be held in Manchester. An India versus Pakistan match could well be on the cards if India tops the table and Pakistan manages to find some form. Although, this seems a bit difficult considering the manner in which Pakistan are poised in the table, mathematically the odds cannot be ignored. Sarfaraz Ahmed’s side is currently placed 6th in the points table, with 2 wins, 3 losses and a no-Result from 6 matches.

In order for us to witness another clash between the neighbours, Pakistan would be required to win all their remaining games against New Zealand, Bangladesh, and Afghanistan so as to fancy their chances in the top 4. Pakistan would also require Sri Lanka, West Indies and Bangladesh to lose at least one game, as they, too, stand a chance of giving a competition to the Asian side for the semi-final berth by winning all their scheduled matches.

India, on the other hand, have established a firm grip on a spot in the next phase, with their impeccable brand of cricket. The challenge for them would be to win all their remaining games, in order to claim the top spot. Further, considering the fact that the in-form Men in Blue have their games against some of the sides which Pakistan requires to lose, shifts the odds in favour of another Indo-Pak clash.

Finally, the prospects of a subcontinental semi-final would require England to lose all their games, so that the hosts are out of contention. These results have been calculated to avoid bringing the net run rate into play for any of the positions.

If the aforementioned equation materializes, then India, Australia, New Zealand and Pakistan would advance to the next stage. India would top the points table with 17 points, while Pakistan would be placed fourth with 11 points. Australia and New Zealand would occupy the second and the third spots, depending upon the results of the match between them, and that of the world champions and South Africa.

Cricket is a game of uncertainties while India and Pakistan are two of the most unpredictable sides on the global stage. Thus, considering the mathematical equation at hand, the chances of another India versus Pakistan match in this World Cup cannot be overlooked.

World Cup 2019, India vs Afghanistan: 5 Moment…

The Men in Blues came out on top in the thriller

India continued their unbeaten streak in the World Cup by overcoming the Afghan challenge at Southampton on Saturday. Considering the form and prowess of both the sides, many regarded the game as a cakewalk for Team India. Though the Men in Blues managed to win the encounter, the efforts required were much more than anticipated prior to the game.

The Afghans gave a stiff challenge to India after restricting them to 224/8. They were in the game right till the end, and it took some hair-raising bowling from Jasprit Bumrah and Mohammed Shami to seal the deal for the subcontinental juggernauts by a slender margin of 11 runs.

A One-Day International lasts for about 8 hours, but the game is won in a few moments, moments which could later materialise into radiance or ruination depending upon their conversion rate. It is the conversion of these opportunities in one’s favour that turns out to be the difference between the sides at the end of the day.

The Asian Derby in Southampton, too, was a match of a number of incredulous, magical moments, and it was India who snapped these chances and converted them into a victory. Let’s dissect the match and have a look at the parts where the match was won and lost:

#5 The Jadhav Jettison in the 46th over

Jadhav scored a crucial half-century against the Afghans

After beating the likes of South Africa, Australia and Pakistan on the back of their immaculate batsmanship, India were expected to wreak havoc on the inexperienced Afghan bowlers. However, they turned out to be a hard nut to crack for Kohli’s men, and the side found themselves reeling at 192/5 after 44 overs. To make matters worse, seasoned finisher MS Dhoni was dismissed in the 45th over, which yielded only 2 runs.

Having spent some time in the middle with Dhoni, the onus was on Jadhav to deliver the goods for India. The 34-year old responded in a responsible fashion, unleashing himself against pacer Aftab Alam.

Kedar scored 11 runs in that over, with the help of a one-handed six and a boundary down the leg side. At a time when runs were hard to come by, this over rejuvenated the hopes in the Indian camp and turned out to be the best over for the side in the death overs.

Ironically, India went on to win the match by the same margin, it was those 11 runs which proved to be the difference between the two sides, as Afghanistan failed to make any of their death overs as big as Kedar did.

#4 Successive blows of pinch hitters by Hardik Pandya and Yuzvendra Chahal

Chahal and Pandya picked up two wickets apiece

The Indian bowling attack has made a meteoric rise in the past 18 months, having single-handedly set up the platform for many famous wins. The pace trio of Jasprit Bumrah, Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Mohammed Shami has shown the fire and fierceness to dominate the batsmen with the new ball and in the slog overs.

Spin twins Kuldeep Yadav and Yuzvendra Chahal have done the trick in the middle overs, while Hardik Pandya’s presence provides a good blend in the bowling line up.

Having posted a below-par score on the board, Team India was heavily dependent on its bowlers to extend their dominant run in the World Cup. All the bowlers stepped up and shared the responsibility, picking up wickets at regular intervals. However, two blows by Hardik and Chahal towards the end of the innings majorly swung the game in the favour of India.

Both the bowlers had drawn their first blood earlier, but their ensuing wickets proved to be more important. Najibullah Zadran, with the ability to play aggressive strokes, had begun to ply his trade and threatened to loosen India’s grip on the game.

It was then that Hardik came in the 42nd over and removed the big-hitting Afghan with a deceptive slower delivery. Rashid Khan, boasting of a similar capability was beguiled a few overs later by Chahal with his turn, and the former had his bails dispatched by MS Dhoni.

These scalps turned out to crucial in the context of the game, as they left no reliable partner to support Mohammad Nabi on the other end.

#3 Bamboozling Bumrah at the death

Bumrah bowled a string of yorkers in his final two overs

Jasprit Bumrah and death overs seem to be a heavenly combination on exhibition in crucial encounters. Be it maintaining a cool head to execute accurate yorkers, or making variations with the pace, ‘The Boom’ has a nerve-racking ability for all of it.

The 25-year old once again proved why he is currently the best bowler in the world, as he attacked the batsmen with his most trusted weapon, the yorker at the death on umpteen occasions.

Bumrah was entrusted the task to deliver the 44th, the 47th and the 49th over by Captain Kohli, and the World No.1 vindicated the faith of his captain, as well as 125 crore countrymen, as he gave away only 17 runs in these overs. In fact, the penultimate over was brimmed with yorkers, yielding only 5 runs.

Bumrah’s miserly spell not only increased the pressure on the batsmen but also released it from his compatriots, as they made the most of this pressure by striking regularly from the other end. The brilliance in the penultimate over left 16 for Shami to defend in the final over, ensuring that India had a firm grip on the game.

#2 Shami Special at Southampton- The First Hat-Trick of the 2019 World Cup

Mohammed Shami became the second Indian to take a World Cup hat-trick

Mohammed Shami, playing his first World Cup 2019 match, turned out to be the last over hero for India. Following a hair-raising penultimate over by Bumrah, the pacer was entrusted with the responsibility of defending 16 runs in the last over to maintain India’s unbeaten streak in the World Cup.

Having given just 3 runs in his last over, Shami kicked off the over in a disastrous fashion, being hit for a boundary by Nabi. Just when it seemed that there might be a twist in the tale, the mastermind MSD went up to Shami and shared a nugget of his wisdom, and the very next ball saw the latter have Nabi caught by Hardik Pandya on the boundary line.

This was possibly the last nail in the coffin, with Afghanistan needing 12 off 3, being 8 down. The comeback hero then executed two accurate deliveries to clean up the tail, thereby becoming the first bowler to claim a hat-trick in the 2019 World Cup.

#1 Bumrah’s Double Wicket Maiden

Bumrah swung the game in India’s favour by dismissing both set batsmen in the 29th over

The Indian bowlers started the innings in a determined fashion, applying brakes on the scoring shots of the batsmen. Once Shami and Pandya sent back the openers, it was the most experienced and technically sound Afghan pair: Rahmat Shah and Hashmatullah Shahidi, who made their way to the middle.

Having a cool head on their shoulders, the duo did not play any rash shots, rotated the strike and stitched a 42-run partnership. The game was even stevens at that point of time, and regular wickets were the only way in which India could stay in contention.

It was then that Virat Kohli handed the ball to Jasprit Bumrah, and what followed was an absolute masterclass. In the contest between the best of the two sides, Bumrah prevailed, by sending both the batsmen back to the dressing room.

He lured Rahmat Shah with a short ball, only to be caught by Yuzvendra Chahal in the deep. He also dismissed Shahidi with a beautiful low return catch off his own bowling. The World No.1 went on to bowl a maiden, adding on to the pressure for Afghanistan.

This over by Bumrah heavily shifted the odds of the game in favour of India, as it exposed the lower-middle order of the opposition. The 25-year old reaffirmed his stature as the world’s best yet again, delivering the goods in the face of adversities. He was rightly adjudged the Man of the Match for his spell of 2/39 in 10 overs.