India loss at right time: With an undefeated start, India’s sail at the World Cup was smooth. Having beaten the likes of Australia and South Africa with rather ease and thumping the likes of West Indies and Pakistan, India went on to claim the Number 1 spot in the ICC Rankings and be considered as the tournament favourites.
India won 5 of their 6 games and were cruising along, not only finding themselves in a great position to make it to the semis but also in a position to define the fate of a few others.
Despite all these wins, India’s chinks in the armours were in light but probably not spoken about as much. Next up was England and India succumbed to a 31 run defeat against the hosts in a chase that lacked momentum and intent. It wasn’t just the lower middle order that did not go all out to try and win the game. Even the batsmen setting the foundation for the chase went about things rather slowly.
Ever since the defeat, there has been a lot of noise about it and the critics have started to dig deeper into the situation. Which in a way, is a good thing wherein the mistakes and the shortcomings have come to light and questions have been asked which shall force the team to re-think, re-plan and go out in the next games with better intent.
India loss at right time: While India’s batting has done considerably well in the tournament, it’s the bowling that has had big impact on the games and been a strong reason for the wins. The bowlers restricted South Africans to a lowly total, letting the batsmen take time and plan their chase better. Against the Afghanis, the bowlers absorbed the pressure and didn’t let the Afghanistan batsmen get past India’s meagre total. And yet again, against the Windies, the bowlers crumbled their potent batting line-up and guided India to a fine win.
In all this, while Rohit Sharma and Virat Kohli have got runs, 440 and 382 respectively, India’s next batsman on the list is MS Dhoni with just 188 runs who has been hugely criticized for his slow batting. Hardik Pandya and KL Rahul, next on the list have shown glimpses but still far from convincing.
The right questions have faced the Indian team just at the right time where the team nearly sealed qualification and has got another 2 games to test and try a new combination if needed. There has been a lot of shout for getting Dinesh Karthik in the nix and he could be a player that could be tried in place of either Kedar Jadhav or Rishabh Pant. Another name, that has constantly featured on the field, but not yet in the line-up, Ravindra Jadeja, could be another player in mind given his 3-D abilities and fine form he exhibited in the warm up games.
India would need to wrap their head around getting their middle order right as there has been a huge reliance on Virat Kohli and Rohit Sharma and if they fail someday, India would invite deep trouble for themselves. The middle order needs a batsman who could steady the ship if needed and accelerate at the right time to take the match deep. At the moment, there doesn’t seem to be a batsman capable of doing all this. There is Dhoni who could bat deep but the pace of his innings is in question; Hardik Pandya has been in fine hitting from but if he can play big innings is a big doubt; Kedar Jadhav seems to be out of touch and Rishabh Pant has just played his maiden World Cup game.
There are a lot of questions and a daunting area for India to ponder upon and improve upon if they are to fight hard and claim the title.
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