In Jasprit Bumrah, India have the world’s number one ranked bowler, but this ICC Men’s Cricket World Cup has shown their attack is about more than one man.
Bumrah was brilliant once again in the 125-run victory over the West Indies at Old Trafford, taking 2/9 from his six overs.
However, it is the rest of the attack, from Mohammed Shami, who took four wickets for the second straight game, to Hardik Pandya, emerging as viable fifth option, as well as spin pair Kuldeep Yadav and Yuzvendra Chahal, that has made India such a formidable proposition.
For the second successive game, they were forced to defend a relatively small total, 268 on this occasion, and they did so convincingly.
And for wrist-spinner Kuldeep, the way the attack is coming together as a team can only bode well for the remainder of the competition.
“Jasprit has been bowling really well and has been for a couple of years since his international debut,” said Kuldeep, who took 1/35 including the crucial wicket of Nicholas Pooran for 28.
“Then you have Shami, who was only playing his second game and bowled really well. We’ve got a good fast bowling attack, as well as spinners.
“We’re just looking for the team combination. We’re doing really well as a bowling attack and that is important. In the last game (against Afghanistan) we defended 225 and showed we can defend a total like this.”
Although the final result was one-sided, the West Indies seemed very much in the hunt at the halfway stage.
Kemar Roach’s three wickets had helped them put India into a pressure situation, but MS Dhoni (56 not out) and Pandya (46) made telling contributions, with Kuldeep thrilled at the way the team came through a tricky situation.
And it’s another huge confidence boost ahead of a showdown with England at Edgbaston on Sunday
He added: “We played really well. At one moment we were looking at 250 and then Mahendra and Hardik gave us a good total.
“270 was really good on this track. Later the ball was spinning a bit and that gave us momentum. Shami picking up two early wickets was huge for us, then Hardik got one and I got one so it was a really satisfying performance.”
Michael Vaughan believes Jonny Bairstow has shown a “negative, pathetic mindset” by saying people are waiting for England to fail at the World Cup.
Bairstow has been critical of the media, including former captain Vaughan, for their perceived lack of support during the competition.
In response, Vaughan posted on Instagram: “How wrong can Jonny Bairstow be. Never has England team had so much support but it’s you and your team that has disappointed Jonny. Win two games and you are in the semis… With this negative, pathetic mindset I am concerned though. It’s not the media’s fault you have lost three games !!!”
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How wrong can @jbairstow21 be .. Never has England team had so much support but it’s you and your team that has disappointed Jonny .. WIN 2 games and you are in the semis .. With this negative, pathetic mindset I am concerned though .. it’s not the media’s fault you have lost 3 games .. !!!
Earlier, former captain Kevin Pietersen had said current skipper Eoin Morgan looked “scared” during the defeat to Australia while Vaughan saying England could be heading for their worst World Cup.
“People were waiting for us to fail,” Bairstow had said. “They are not willing us on to win, in many ways, they are waiting for you to get that loss, so they can jump on your throat. It’s a typical English thing to do, in every sport.”
India don’t have any player in the top five run-getters or wicket-takers list in the 2019 World Cup. In fact, India’s top run getter and highest wicket takers are nowhere near the top. Rohit Sharma (338 runs from five matches) is well behind the leader David Warner (500 from seven matches), while Yuzvendra Chahal’s 10 wickets from five games are not even close to Mitchell Starc’s 19 scalps from seven games.
But India are the only unbeaten team in the tournament with five wins and a washout, they also rose to the No1 ODI rankings after their thumping victory over West Indies in Manchester.
Skipper Virat Kohli said India have been playing like the No1 team for some time. Don’t forget India are the top-ranked team in Tests as well.
“We have just become the number one side in the world and we have been playing like that for a while now,” said Kohli after the Windies win.
And the simple reason behind that is a collective effort by the entire team. In all games, a majority of the team has chipped in with critical contributions to put the team on the path to victory.
Kohli has now hit four successive fifties. MS Dhoni hit a crucial fifty against the Windies, while Kedar Jadhav’s fifty was important in a closer than expected win over Afghanistan. KL Rahul has had three sizeable contributions at the top, which has made up for two quiet games for Rohit.
In the bowling department, Jasprit Bumrah has been pretty much unplayable, his nine wickets from five games coming at 4.45 runs an over. Mohammed Shami has come in and blasted his way to eight wickets in two games while Chahal has been impeccable in all games, with good support from Hardik Pandya’s seamers.
The men in blue have caught a lot more than they have dropped and have reveled in conditions that are more Delhi than London. This is why India have enjoyed a lot more success than Bangladesh, who have the third-highest run-getter in Shakib Al Hasan – or England, who have two in the top five wicket-takers list.
The one weak link that India have at the moment is the No4 position where Vijay Shankar has been a passenger. Luckily for them, their bowling is so strong that they have restricted teams to totals of 227, 213 and 143 in completed innings.
This proves that cricket indeed is a team game and that a strong bowling attack filled with wicket-takers can make up for any shortcoming in the batting department.