They were touted as heavy favorites to go the distance at the ongoing ODI Cricket World Cup 2019 and India have fully lived up to the heavy expectations in their opening two matches. Trouncing South Africa in their tournament opener by 6 wickets, the Asian giants followed it up with a riveting performance against Australia to reaffirm their credentials for the coveted title.
What has really caught the eye though has been the comprehensive manner in which India have won their matches. They’ve been in complete control across both their matches, not once allowing the opposition even the slightest of breathing space. The side under the tutelage of Virat Kohli have marauded their way to 4 points, something which ascertains the exuberant brand of cricket the side have doled out till now.
5 Main Positives For India After Their Opening Two Matches
Jasprit Bumrah And Bhuvneshwar Kumar’s Partnership
Whilst there was no doubting that Jasprit Bumrah was going to be one of the best pacers in this edition of the marquee tournament, Bhuvneshwar Kumar’s form heading into the quadrennial tournament was a cause for concern for the Indian team. He was lackluster in the Indian Premier League, being hammered for runs and his selection ahead of Mohammed Shami for India’s tournament opener raised many questions across Indian supporters.
However, Bhuvneshwar has been quick to quell his doubters by bouncing right back into form. Against South Africa, he, alongside Bumrah bowled 20 overs for a paltry 79 runs along with picking up 4 wickets in between them. The opening spell from Bumrah was a delectable spectacle with the spearhead getting the ball to treacherously deviate at an emphatic trajectory. His spell of 2-35 saw him send back both Quinton de Kock and Amla with two absolute rippers, earning accolades for one of the finest spells in the tournament.
And Bhuvneshwar proved to be the perfect partner for him with figures of 2-44 seeing him come out and do the job for India in the death overs. The two continued their onslaught against Australia as well, this time picking up three wickets each to show that India might just have the most formidable opening ball duo at the frontier event.
Delivering an unbeaten 122 against South Africa on a dangerous Rose Bowl surface, Rohit Sharma showed that he’s as dependable as ever. That man of the match knock from the opener epitomized just how profound a skill set he possesses, taking time to craft out an extremely well-made inning.
That knock saw him play his full range of shots, amassing a bagful of runs after seeing out a feisty spell from Rabada with the pacer incessantly pitching the ball in all the right areas. And Rohit was quick to show his consistency against Australia as well, following up that 100 with a well made 57, one which gave India’s middle-order the perfect foundation to build from.
Yuzvendra Chahal Stepping Up
With Kuldeep Yadav going into the tournament in lackluster form, India massively needed fellow wrist spinner Yuzvendra Chahal to step up from the other end. And the spinner has done just that, delivering two outstanding performances to show just how much he has worked on his bowling.
With figures of 4-51 against South Africa, Chahal was quintessential to India’s consummate success on the day. What made us stand up and take notice was the way he got those wickets, in particular, the ripper he bowled to clean up Rassie van der Dussen. Tossing the ball up into the well-set batsman, Chahal drifted the ball into him before getting the ball to deviate away and shatter down his wickets.
The same narrative was played out against Australia with Chahal’s 2-62 spell seeing him get rid of Maxwell and Warner, two batsmen who could have easily thwarted India’s bid to make it two wins on the bounce. He’s by far the mainstay of the Indian spinning ranks at the moment and India will be immensely happy with the progress he’s shown.
India’s Middle-Order Taking The Onus On Themselves
India’s biggest cause of concern before they began their sojourn in the World Cup was the paper thin nature of the middle-order, something the side were yet to iron out. However, the number 4-6 batsmen have all taken accountability in the opening two matches, more than willing to apply themselves in the middle and play pivotal knocks for the country.
The first match saw KL Rahul who came in at the vital number 4 position, stick it around for a 44 run partnership with Rohit Sharma. MS Dhoni was elevated up the order in the same match, coming in at number 5 to see India get past the finishing line with relative ease without any jitters.
The second match was equally impressive with Dhoni, Pandya and KL Rahul playing 44 balls in between them to tear Australia apart for 86 runs. The three in between them ensured the run-rate never fell, always ensuring India maintained their grasp over Australia throughout the Indian innings.
The last time the Indian side had played the ODI format was back in March when the side were left beleaguered by some rather lopsided fielding efforts. Be it in the Punjab or the Delhi ODI against Australia, India allowed their opponents to get far too many easy runs as the ball slipped between fingers and catches were dropped.
Come the World Cup and India are a completely new look side out in the field. The round the clock training sessions and unique introductions to ensure that catches are held onto and prospective doubles are restricted to singles have paid massive dividends for the side. They’ve kept mounting the pressure on the opposition with their immaculate fielding performances, none brought to light better than the two well-judged catches Ravindra Jadeja took against Australia.