Five in Five. That’s how India have outplayed their opponents in the current edition of the World Cup and have secured a place in the Quarter-finals with ease. No body gave this team a chance. Critics wrote them off saying they lack a world class bowling unit. Some said Virat Kohli alone can’t win it for India. But the Men in blue have proved everybody wrong. (Full Coverage| Points table| Fixtures)
First game of a World Cup and you are up against your arch-rivals. With pressure at its peak, MS Dhoni and his men kick started their campaign in style. India batted first and with Kohli getting a hundred and Shikhar Dhawan playing a fine innings, India posted exactly 300 on board. Pakistan faltered in chase as the Indian bowlers found their rhythm and made timely inroads to bowl them out.
Highs: India’s bowlers were not in great form before the World Cup and defending 300, no one backed them. But they struck early and regularly. India bowled out Pakistan for 224 and won the match by 76 runs.
Lows: Just like 2011, India failed to capitalise on a solid platform by the top order. India were tipped to post a big total but as soon as the batting powerplay was introduced, India lost the way from 273/3 at one stage, they ended with 300/7.
India were upbeat with a win over Pakistan but their next opponent was South Africa, a team which undoubtedly has the most balanced squad of the tournament. But there were different scenes at the MCG.
India didn’t put a foot wrong. They won the toss, batted first, posted a huge total. The bowlers, remember no one backed them, came back and bowled South Africa out. Moreover, AB de Villiers and David Miller were out while taking on the Indian fielders, abig surprise in this World Cup.
Highs: Shikhar Dhawan made up for missing out on a century against Pakistan and at his second home, Melbourne, scored a memorable ton. After being dropped early by Hashim Amla, he rubbed salts in South Africa’s wounds with some top-class shots over mid-on, mid-off and even the third man. His batting pushed Proteas into the defensive.
Ajinkya Rahane too exhibited his ablity to change gears according to the match situation. He came to the crease with India well placed at 136/2 but were looking for a much-needed impetus, Rahane did exactly that with a quick-fire 79.
Lows: India continued to falter at the fag-end of the innings which helped South Africa restrict them to 307. Every batsman who came after Dhoni was dismissed for a single digit. As a result, India finished for 302/7 despite being 279/4 at one stage.
Nobody expected UAE to upset India and it didn’t happen at the WACA. UAE won the toss and batted but as soon as Ashwin came to bowl, hell broke loose. They collapsed to 102 with their number six Shaiman Anwar scoring 35 runs which was their highest individual score of the innings.
Highs: Ravichandran Ashwin almost single-handedly won this game for India. With the bounce and carry on the pitch, he tangled UAE in his web. Senior pros like Khurram Khan didn’t have an answer to his off spin that day.
Lows: India could have bowled UAE out for a lot less than 102. UAE were reeling at 71/9 but the last wicket stretched their overall total by a valuable 31 runs.
West Indies were not in supreme form coming to this match against India at WACA but they couldn’t be ignored with the quality pace bowlers they have. But as the action began, it was the Indian pacers who came to the party with Shami and Yadav accounting for five Windies batsman. India did stutter but chased down the target of 183 in the end.
Highs: India made early inroads and used the bounce of the pitch to their advantage. Shami removed the openers with the extra bounce. Dhoni didn’t had to look beyond Yadav to wrap the West Indies innings.
Lows: The Indian top order was rattled early on with some sharp accurate bowling from the West Indies. Yes, India had depth in the batting to chase the small total but as the knock outs approach, India should be at their best in every business. Also, India dropped quite a few catches in the field.
India are looking more and more the side to beat and Ireland came to know that early in Hamilton. India, looking for their ninth straight win at the World Cups, were favourities to beat Ireland.
India did exactly that and extend their streak.
First they bowled Ireland out for 259 despite a bad start with the ball and then they calmly chased down the target with eight wickets in hand.
Highs: If you take out the UAE and West Indies game, Dhawan has been in great fom in the tournament. He once again paid-off the faith of his captain and the selectors for backing him by scoring his second toon of the World Cup. Rohit Sharma also scored a fifty while Kohli and Rahane got more time in the middle.
On the bowling front, India bowled out their opposition for the fith time in a row, a record for India and one which they can be proud of.
Lows: The only time Ireland looked like posing a big challenge agains India was in the first 20 overs. They took on the pacers and attacked Shami, Yadav and Mohit Sharma right from the start and the bowlers found it difficult to find a particular line to bowl.