World Cup 2019: India off the mark in style
They say well begun is half done. The Indian team will definitely want to believe in this adage as they kick-started their world cup campaign with an assured win. Yuzvendra Chahal & Rohit Sharma were the architects of this win, which although was not thumping and imposing in nature, looked very much assured once the initial spell of Kagiso Rabada and Chris Morris was negotiated safely. Intense spells of bowling took centre stage as the spectators were treated to some thrilling patches of play.
An under-pressure South Africa won the toss and elected to bat first. Bhuvaneshwar Kumar and Jasprit Bumrah began proceedings with a disciplined spell of fast bowling. Bumrah justified why he is regarded so highly in the sport with 2 fantastic deliveries to get rid of both openers. It was so delightful to watch Indian new ball bowlers bowling with 2 and, at times, 3 slips in an ODI. All the Indian fans who have followed Indian cricket in the 90s can perhaps connect with this emotion deeply – India has often dominated the batting aspect in an ODI and has seen opening batsmen bludgeon opposition bowlers so often. But the delight of seeing Indian new ball bowlers bowl with the discipline and the skill of having catching slip fielders is just precious.
The Indian spinners backed up the opening bowlers very well. They did what they so often do in the middle phase of the innings – control the flow of runs and grab wickets. One often ignored fact here is that our spinners often bowl with the luxury of 2 relatively new batsmen. This is courtesy of the Indian fast bowlers who often account for a couple of wickets in the powerplay. The real test of the spinners will come on a day when the opposition has gotten off to a solid start without losing many wickets. The drift and the loop that Chahal created today was a dream for any spinner. The way he bowled Russey van der Dussen with a loopy delivery and the googly which slid and dismissed skipper Faf du Plessis were the two lavish scalps in his 4-wicket haul.
A chase of 228 was never really going to challenge the Indian batting line up. But Rabada and Morris really bowled their hearts out. Both of them got the ball to bounce awkwardly from a length and there were quite a few instances where the Indian batsmen were found reaching out to false shots and got lucky. Rabada, in particular, would've particularly felt undone. In his very first over he bowled 2 deadly short balls – one took Dhawan’s edge and flew past the backward point fielder and the second took Rohit’s glove and popped up where Faf could not hold onto a diving catch. On his day, those 2 balls could have easily accounted for 2 wickets. But Rohit showed enough stability to weather this storm and play out a patient hundred. The fact that he was there till the very end should give him loads of confidence.
Amidst all this, one cannot refute the fact that India are so heavily dependent on their top 3. It is almost obligatory for the one of the top 3 to stay on till the 40th over of the innings irrespective of whether India are batting first or second. All in all, it was a pleasing win. It wasn’t perfect – you could point out to the fact that India conceded a 66-run 8th wicket partnership, which could be viewed as their inability to polish off a tail. You could point out that the eternally worrisome no.4 position has still not been stamped with authority. Or even the fact that India fluffed a chance to gain a superior net run rate by taking the match too long. But all those worries are for a later time. Right now, it is time to enjoy India's maiden victory at the 2019 ICC World Cup.
Also read - Most world cup wins