After comfortable wins over South Africa, Australia and Pakistan, India got their first major scare of the tournament as Afghanistan came mighty close to upsetting them at the Rose Bowl. Here are our talking points from the game- a second straight last over thriller after the game between New Zealand and the Proteas.
India’s middle order struggles
If there was ever a concern for India leading into this World Cup, it was their middle order. Against the likes of South Africa, Australia and Pakistan, some one from the top order always made a century, which made things easy for the other batters. For the first time in this tournament, their openers struggled. While Virat Kohli was again fantastic (only player to strike at over a run a ball), he was out for 67, with India at 135 in the 31st over. The Men in Blue only managed 90 odd runs in the last twenty, as MS Dhoni and Kedhar Jadhav plodded along in the middle overs. Dhoni made only 28 from 52 balls before being stumped, and both batsmen were criticised by legendary Indian star Sachin Tendulkar for “not possessing intent”
Afghanistan weren’t able to make India pay, but a better team would, and India’s competitors would’ve seen a definite chink in their armoury.
Mohammad Shami claims the first hat trick of CWC 2019
Mohammad Shami has been a vastly improved bowler over the last 18 months, but had to sit out India’s first four games, with Bhuvneshwar Kumar preferred for team balance. With Kumar out due to a hamstring injury, Shami got his chance against Afghanistan, and created World Cup history with his last over hat trick. It came under pressure, with Nabi threatening to take Afghanistan home, but Shami kept his cool and ensured India’s unbeaten run at the World Cup continued.
India’s bowlers are among the best in the world
India have always had good batsmen, but the emergence of a strong bowling unit has been one of the reasons for them becoming a world class outfit. Five or ten years ago, India would’ve perhaps lost this game, but not today. The IPL has helped them deal with pressure better. Even with Bhuvneshwar injured, they had four world class bowlers in their lineup. Even the fifth, all rounder Hardik Pandya, is capable of bowling in the 140’s. It’s an exciting time for Indian fans, and their bowling is a big reason for them to be considered favourites for the title.
Jasprit Bumrah produced two telling blows, taking out Rahmat Shah and Hashmatullah when they were building a threatening partnership. Chahal took out the dangerous Rashid Khan, and Pandya’s bouncer accounted for Afghan skipper Gulbadin Naib. Kuldeep didn’t take wickets, but he was economical, going for under four an over.
India’s 50th World Cup win
This victory was India’s 50th in World Cup history. The Men in Blue have become a force to be reckoned with in ICC tournaments this decade, and their overally win percentage is only second to Australia’s, ahead of the likes of South Africa, England and New Zealand.
Southampton produces another low scoring thriller
The Rose Bowl has been a low scoring venue this World Cup. South Africa only managed 227 against India, and were 29/2 before rain interrupted their game against the West Indies. The Windies in turn, also scored only 212 against England.
With conditions helping the slower bowlers, will we see another sub 250 score in the Bangladesh-Afghanistan game two days from now?