Cricket World Cup 2019: Mohammed Shami stars as India make light work of Windies to remain unbeaten

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A big win for India at Old Trafford. Image - CWC/Twitter.

India’s unbeaten march in the 2019 ICC World Cup continued on Thursday with the Men in Blue thrashing West Indies by 125 runs in Manchester.

A commanding bowling display from Virat Kohli’s men was at the heart of India’s fifth win in the tournament with the Windies bowled out for just 143 runs in their chase of a target of 269.

Half centuries from skipper Virat Kohli and MS Dhoni helped India post a total of 268-7 on a difficult surface before the bowlers turned the screws on the Caribbean side.

Mohammed Shami (4-16) gave India a roaring start with the ball with the early wickets of Chris Gayle and Shai Hope before India’s wrist-spinners got into the act.

Kuldeep Yadav accounted for Nicholas Pooran while Yuzvendra Chahal sent back Jason Holder as Windies slipped to 98-5.

It went from bad to worse for the Windies with Jasprit Bumrah striking twice in two balls and the writing on the wall was confirmed once Shami returned to end Shimron Hetmyer’s vigil in his second spell.

Earlier, India’s openers were looking solid after Kohli elected to bat first before Rohit Sharma fell to a contentious caught-behind decision off the bowling of Kemar Roach.

India recovered from that early blow with a 69-run circumspect stand between KL Rahul and Virat Kohli before the former was castled on 48 by a Jason Holder in-swinger.

India’s middle-order woes were exposed once again with both Vijay Shankar and Kedar Jadhav falling cheaply while Kohli continued to look solid at the other end.

The India skipper crafted a fluent half-century and was looking good for his first ton of the tournament before he pulled a Holder delivery straight into the hands of Darren Bravo.

That wicket left India reeling at 180-5 at around the 40-over mark and it took an excellent stand between Hardik Pandya and MS Dhoni to resurrect the innings.

Pandya perished for a quickfire 46 while Dhoni cracked his 72nd ODI fifty after landing some important blows in the final overs.

KEY TAKEAWAY

Bowling proving to be India’s biggest strength

While India’s formidable top-order before the injury to Shikhar Dhawan has been the envy of most ODI sides for some time now, it is their bowling attack which is proving to be the team’s biggest asset in the World Cup.

A total of 269 was just about par for the surface at Old Trafford but India’s formidable bowling unit made it look like a gigantic score with yet another complete display.

Jasprit Bumrah’s quality was never in doubt but it has been the performance of Shami which has been the biggest positive with the pacer more than filling the boots vacated by Bhuvneshwar Kumar’s injury.

Shami’s control with the new-ball was nothing short of stellar and it was then backed up by an excellent showing by India’s wrist-spin duo of Kuldeep Yadav and Yuzvendra Chahal.

With both the pace and spin attacks looking in top form, India will be confident of defending most totals in the World Cup.

A commanding bowling display from India.

A commanding bowling display from India.

KEY MAN

Mohammed Shami

The experienced pacer is only in the playing XI due to an injury to Bhuvneshwar but it will be hard to dislodge him from the side now following his latest showing.

Having captured a match-winning hat-trick against Afghanistan in the previous match, Shami was on target from ball one in an excellent new-ball spell which set the tone for the rest of the innings.

He gave Gayle no room to work with and then reaped the rewards while his delivery to dismiss an in-form Hope was exceptional. The 28-year-old has never looked as fit as he does at the moment and he is bowling with plenty of sharpness and intensity.

His partnership with Bumrah is turning into a lethal one and India will be wary of changing it for the remainder of the tournament.

KEY STAT

Kohli becomes fastest to 20,000 international runs

The India skipper missed out on a ton but he continued his good form by registering his fourth consecutive half-century. During the course of his 72-run knock, Kohli went past 20,000 runs across all three formats of international cricket.

He is now the fastest batsman in history to do so by taking just 417 innings combined to breach the milestone. The record was previously held jointly by Sachin Tendulkar and Brian Lara who attained the feat in 453 innings.

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