For the first time in recent memory, India have brought a squad to the World Cup where the bowling unit looks much stronger than its batting counterpart. It's surprising, but true.
Sure, India do boast of the best batsman in the world in their captain Virat Kohli and a modern legend of the game in opener Rohit Sharma; they have a true master of the game batting lower down, in MS Dhoni; and a swashbuckling striker in Hardik Pandya coming further down. But as the emphatic 125-run win over West Indies suggests, India probably pack more punch in their sublime bowling repertoire.
India have covered all bases when it comes to finalizing the shape of their attack. Two impressive spinners in top form, Yuzvendra Chahal and Kuldeep Yadav, are complemented by the aggressive pace of World No. 1 Jasprit Bumrah and the highly-impressive Mohammed Shami.
Shami in particular has been devastating since coming into the team following first-choice Bhuvneshwar Kumar's injury. He picked up a match-winning hat-trick against Afghanistan and a 4/16 against West Indies to clinch another win.
Wicket-taking medium pace options are provided by Hardik Pandya and Vijay Shankar, while Kedar Jadhav is a canny off-spinner capable of breaking partnerships. Chahal is a clever leggie while Yadav bowls the unconventional chinaman; with so many dimensions to the attack, India most definitely have the most versatile bowling lineup out there.
Yes, you read that right! Bumrah picked up figures of 2/9 from his six overs today, while Shami got his four at an economy rate of 2.53. Their tight bowling at the death ensured victory against Afghanistan, while the two again shackled the power-hitters of the Windies as the wickets started tumbling.
Kuldeep, himself bowled nine overs but did not concede more that four runs an over - while also picking up a wicket.
The bowlers were instrumental in recording a facile win today. West Indies bat really deep, but the early pressure along with regular strikes ensured that they were never in the chase.
Also, India have bowled out a side for the second consecutive match. They are not content to merely contain the batsmen but are potent enough to claim wickets - a spirit encouraged by the attacking fields set by Kohli.
Yes, India pack a lot of firepower in their unused batsmen with Dinesh Karthik and Risabh Pant warming the bench. But don't forget that Ravindra Jadeja, a quality left-arm spinner and attacking batsmen, and now Bhuvneshwar Kumar, one of the world's premier swing bowlers, are also not playing.
Bhuvneshwar was India's first choice and had prevented Shami from coming into the team early on; his return from injury will give India an enjoyable selection headache. They also have the option of playing five bowlers if the conditions demand that, with an extra frontline pacer or spinner.
Why the bowling attack is so important for India
India piled on the runs in two big wins against Australia and Pakistan but when the going got tough, chinks in the middle and lower-middle order were exposed. The bowlers, however, has been unbelievably consistent, performing in every game and winning matches on their own
They might win some more as we enter the business end of the tournament. That's as important a safeguard as any that Kohli could have asked for.
Also read – World cup winners list