Are we well poised, going forward?
By V.N. Prasad
At the outset, heartiest congratulations to Virat Kohli on his magnificent century at the Eden Garadens, the best present he could bestow upon himself on his 35th birthday, equalling Sachin Tendulkar’s record of 49 ODI centuries. While acknowledging the feat on the field, Virat hid his emotions in a very dignified manner. Was good to see that.
What an extraordinary ICC World Cup this has been hitherto. Umpteen 50s & 100s. Umpteen high scoring encounters. Whereas batsmen of all the teams have exhibited belligerent skills – unparalleled; Bowlers of Bharat have excelled, seamers and spinners alike. In all the 8 victories till date, our bowlers have hogged the limelight.
Jasprit Bumrah and Mohammed Siraj no doubt rattled opponents but it was Mohammed Shami who has bowled consistently and beautifully. Frankly, he should have been the automatic choice from game one. Using ‘Seam Up’, he is a class apart, whether new ball or old. Many a time our selectors use discretions beyond cricketing brains. Kuldeep Yadav and Ravindra Jadeja have been excellent foil. Sadly, Hardik Pandya is unlikely to be back. Now, let us analyse way forward without taking anything away from our boys.
1. Does Shubman Gill look a settled opener with Rohit Sharma? Big games need steady heads. Adapting is the key.
2. Are Rohit and Virat put into pressure?. Yes. Virat’s strike rate is 88.29 consequently, inadequate.
3. Does K.L. Rahul look confident at No. 5? He looks diffident at times, circumspect at times and struggles to settle down.
4. How seriously are we hampered on account of Hardik’s injury? Very seriously, as he is a very confident ‘All Rounder.’ Irreplaceable.
5. Does Suryakumar Yadav look a little casual and flamboyant? Looks yes. Bishen Singh Bedi or Shane Warne would have had him every time in one over; with lolly pops from outside leg stump; either shattering the timber or caught between Square Leg & Deep Fine Leg.
6. Has Shreyas Iyer settled down at No. 4?. Indeed yes. He looks a confident lad.
Now, given all of the above, our boys are well capable of 300 on any wicket in the Semi-Finals. But, any opponent is well-capable of chasing 300; even under our brilliant bowling attack. That makes the discussions in the dressing room and the coach a little tricky one. Intent is not to disturb the 11 at all. But, to rub into the minds Geoff Boycott’s persistent statement: “In Cricket, anything can happen any time. Individual scores are of no importance unless you take your team over the line. So, the diktat is – Never Throw Away Your Wicket.”
So, whichever team may occupy the 4th place, in all permutations and combinations, it is highly unlikely that the Semi-Finals will be a cake walk.
We hope and pray that Shubhman bats judiciously while Rohit piles runs in 1st powerplay, Virat improves Strike Rate and paves way for Shreyas to consolidate. And, KLR’s feet do not shiver in his shoes while settling down to go past 300 and enable Jadeja to take it forward confidently well beyond 350.
Here is wishing our boys the very best. May the team gather all the courage and conviction to go past the semis and bring the coveted Trophy home to make Bharat proud. God bless.