The Blockbuster Indian Win
India ticked all the boxes right to win a scintillating game against defending World champions Australia on the 9th June at Oval, London. After both teams winning their previous encounters in the tournament, they were pretty high on spirit. There was some grass on pitch, but was supposed to be a high scoring track. Kohli won the toss and rightfully elected to bat first knowing well that 330+ was achievable there. The pitch was a used surface, so it was bound to help bowlers in the 2nd half of innings, so batting first and putting a big score was on minds of both captains.
The match started with the Indian Openers looking at a big task of building an opening partnership which hadn’t happened in quite some time. Both Rohit Sharma and Shikhar Dhawan hit shots from the middle of the bat, but were kept quiet for 11 overs by the Australian bowling combination of Cummings, Starc, Coulter-Nile.
The Australians even gifted Rohit a life when he tried to flick a full length delivery towards mid on, a catch dropped by Coulter-Nile and it proved costly. What started as a slow steady start was shifted into higher gears when Zampa was introduced in the 12th over. Both openers scored a boundary each in his over. Dhawan and Sharma eventually went on to score a 100 run partnership.
While Rohit couldn’t play the big knock this time, he did make a 50 yet again. He got against Coulter-Nile, while playing a delivery outside off stump only to give an outside edge to Carey. Kohli joined Dhawan to start off a run blizzard to score freely, while playing a sheet anchor role till the very end. Dhawan played a shot off of Stoinis on 99, when a slight mix up led to a direct hit at Kohli’s end, leading to 3rd umpire being called to confirm the decision. Kohli was saved and Gabbar raised his helmet and bat to his trademark celebration, off the run that he got from the over-throw.
Dhawan eventually got out when Starc bowled a yorker only to give him a full-length delivery, which Dhawan (117 runs in 109 balls) tried to hit for a boundary, only to be caught by Lyon. Instead of KL Rahul or Dhoni, in came Hardik Pandya who hit the ball to all parts of ground to score a quick 48 runs off 27 balls with 4 fours and 3 sixes. Dhoni (27 runs), and KL (11 runs) scored some quick runs along with Kohli (82 runs) to take Team India total beyond the 350 mark.
Australian bowlers came with a plan to bowl short balls to the Indian batsmen, but Indians played well to counter attack and score a mammoth total against the strong batting lineup of Australia. Till now no team has chased a 300+ total in this World Cup, so the odds were already staked against Australian side.
The Australian innings started rather slowly with Warner/Finch not in hurry to score fast runs and ease pressure. They emulated the Indian style of holding wickets in the 1st power-play and attack later on, when batsmen were set. Bhuvneshwar Kumar found his mojo and bowled some tight overs along with Bumrah. Bumrah almost bowled Warner, when the ball hit his stumps but the heavy bails once again didn’t dislodge (a controversial issue).
The Indian Bowlers were able to hold the situation tight, but failed to pick wickets in the 1st power-play. The 1st wicket finally fell when Finch tried for a tight 2nd run, but was hesitant only to fall short of crease to be run out by Jadhav. In form Warner struggled with the bat, only to be picked up by Chahal on 56. Khawaja and Smith tried to hold innings together, but apart from Maxwell (28 runs of 14 balls) and Carey (55 runs in 35 balls), no one was able to put pressure on the Indian bowlers.
In the end, it felt like the Indians solved all the puzzles to play as a strong unit and beat one off best teams of the tournament. Australians could not do anything right on the day in either the bowling or batting department. They had plans but didn’t materialize against a tougher Indian line up. Dhawan picked up the Man of the Match award rightfully.
Sri Lanka Vs South Africa, Rain-washed
Another game of cricket that was washed out by the rain. Though the South Africans had made a poor start yet again and the West Indies had the upper hand, the Proteas were lucky that it was a wash-out and that both team got a share of the spoils.
The Hampshire Games
It is now becoming a trend that the games in Hampshire are getting washed out, with two games of this round (based on World Cup Fantasy), getting abandoned due to the rains. Though it may give some of the struggling teams an advantage in the tournament, it is never good to see high intensity games having no result.
Clearly the organizers should have had better judgement than to keep a cricket tournament in the monsoon season. What was the ICC thinking?
Dhawan Out For Three Weeks
It has been now confirmed that opener Shikhar Dhawan will miss India’s next two matches at least, which are against New Zealand and Pakistan. The player has a suspected hairline fracture on his left thumb, which will keep him out of action now. He is currently in Leeds for a check up and will get the reports today evening, but will surely miss the two matches.
The weather is the key factor here now. Every abandoned game means no points for any of the players. Hampshire has been the epicentre of maximum rainfall so far and choosing players from games there has been rather risky.
Also, a wise pick would be Shakib Al Hasan, who seems to be in the form of his life. Apart from that the English batting is also doing quite well. The New Zealand bowling attack is also reliable in terms of wickets, while Rohit Sharma and Steve Smith are good choices for opening batsmen.
Quinton de Kock, Jos Buttler and Alex Carey have looked really impressive so far. Sarfaraz is rather dicey, just like his team and the Sri Lankan side. South Africa look weak, alongside Afghanistan. Bangladesh and the West Indies are wild-cards once again.