Veteran Indian pacer Ishant Sharma has picked the performance of India’s bowlers as key to their chances of winning the tournament. Despite missing Jasprit Bumrah and Ravindra Jadeja through injury, the Men in Blue possess a fairly potent attack, with Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Arshdeep Singh, Mohammed Shami and Hardik Pandya forming a fantastic quartet. They also have the canny Harshal Patel as an option in reserve, with the RCB star often hard to get away at the death with his change of pace and dipping full tosses.
In an interview to Betway, Sharma remarked that bowlers could make the difference between winning and losing, given that runs currently come pretty easily in this format of the game. He also added that the bounce and pace of the Aussie pitches, plus the long boundaries, would aid the bowlers, giving them a greater margin for error.
India’s bowlers were fantastic against arch rivals Pakistan in their tournament opener- Bhuvneshwar was tough to get away in the powerplay, Arshdeep accounted for both Babar Azam and Mohammad Rizwan early on, and Hardik & Shami both struck timely blows in the middle to prevent Pakistan from getting away.
Axar Patel had an off day against Pakistan with the ball, but Sharma reckons he’s a more than capable replacement for Jadeja, and it was demonstrated in the left arm spinner’s performance against the Netherlands in India’s second group game, where he finished with figures of 2/18 from his four overs.
More importantly, Axar lends the side some much needed batting balance- he’s a floater in the order and is the only leftie in India’s top 7 given that Dinesh Karthik is preferred to Rishabh Pant. In a format where match ups are important- for example, captains generally prefer not to bowl left arm spinners to left-handed batsmen; Axar could end up playing a very pivotal role.
Sharma also had praise for Surya Kumar Yadav, whose 360-degree approach has taken his game to an altogether different level in the last 12 months or so. The MI star’s earlier dependency on the leg side has been replaced by more flexibility in terms of shot making, and that has made him a very difficult batsman to bowl to, as he showed in his fine knock against South Africa in Perth.
The veteran also thought that India had the right mix of exuberance and experience to do well and go far in the tournament. In skipper Rohit and keeper Karthik, India have two players who featured in the inaugural T20 World Cup, and the likes of Virat Kohli, KL Rahul and Ravi Ashwin have plenty of experience at the highest level. It was also on show against Pakistan, where they needed 2 to win off one ball, but all-rounder Ashwin held his nerve in front of the massive 90,293 crowd at the MCG to guide his side to a famous win.