World Cup 2019: 3 key take-aways for India from their first match of the tournament
India opened their World Cup 2019 campaign with a victory against South Africa on 5th June. The Indian bowlers did a good job in restricting the Proteas to 227 in bowler-friendly conditions, and it was then left to the batsmen to finish the job clinically.
Although there are a lot of takeaways from the match for Indian fans, three things clearly stand out:
#1 The importance of Jasprit Bumrah
For India to progress to the semifinals, Jasprit Bumrah will have to play a pivotal role. It is an old saying that 'it is your bowling that wins you matches'. And for India, Bumrah is the clear leader of their bowling pack.
Although his wickets column shows only two wickets for the match, Bumrah bowled much better than that. He was virtually unplayable in his opening spell of 5 overs where he conceded only 13 runs and picked up two crucial wickets.
Bumrah picked got the breakthroughs because of his ability to bowl consecutive good balls, which leaves the batsman bereft of any bad balls which can be used to ease the pressure. With this performance, Bumrah has already announced himself at the World Cup, and India will hope he keeps getting better.
#2 Kuldeep and Chahal's middle overs strangehold
Since the 2017 Champions Trophy, Kuldeep Yadav and Yuzvendra Chahal have taken the most ODI wickets between overs 11-40. This is a testament to their ability to suffocate opposition sides during the middle overs. And they do it in the non-traditional way - by taking wickets rather than concentrating on economical bowling.
This mindset served the pair well in the match against South Africa too, as they picked up 5 wickets between them during overs 11-40.
KulCha, as the pair is affectionately known, have been a big reason for India's ODI success in the last two years. As we go forward in the tournament, we can expect them to wreak more havoc on opposition batsmen as the pitches start getting drier.
#3 Virat Kohli is not the only 'Chase Master' in this side
When Virat Kohli got out for 18, Indian fans must have felt a little tense. After all, Kohli is widely recognized as the greatest chaser in ODI history, given his ability to perfectly time his innings.
But as Kohli took the walk back to the dressing room, Rohit Sharma stepped up to steer the ship. Rohit curtailed his natural aggressive game to see India through, and in the process brought up his 23 ODI century.
Interestingly, 11 of Rohit's centuries have come while chasing, and he has an average of more than 45 in the second innings of ODIs.
Rohit survived the early innings onslaught by Chris Morris and Kagiso Rabada and patiently waited for his chance to pounce on loose deliveries. The sight of Rohit carrying his bat through the innings would have been a pleasant sight for Indian fans who have got used to seeing Kohli chase targets.