On a sunny day in Manchester, blue was the hue all along. Pristine blue skies mirrored India’s spotless display against the West Indies. Having won the toss, Virat Kohli opted to bat first on a dry wicket. Just when Rohit Sharma was beginning to look like his dominant self, a dubious review for caught-behind showed a spike on ultra-edge, just as the bat made contact with the pad. While the front angle showed the ball near the bat, the side angle indicated that there was some gap between the ball and the bat. Rohit Sharma walked, dejected.
Virat Kohli was quick off the blocks, lofting short deliveries over the in-field and cutting sole spinner Fabian Allen. KL Rahul began confidently, a series of drives and cuts got him to 48, but he played across the line to a Jason Holder in-swinger and lost his stumps. Vijay Shankar looked set for a long stay but he nicked one off the impressive Roach to the keeper. Dhoni began slowly, showing vulnerabilities to spin. He later assessed the situation perfectly and with the help of Hardik Pandya, got India to 269 after a late carnage.
In reply, the West Indies never got going. Mohammad Shami bowled short to Gayle and got him caught to a miscue at mid-on and castled Hope with a ball which jagged back of the seam and crashed into the stumps. The Indian bowlers hunted as a unit and picked wickets at regular intervals. The Windies folded for 143, Shami bagging 4 wickets.
Despite the pitch looking like a belter, it ended up being two-paced and offered uneven bounce. Kohli’s dismissal was the best example of the ball keeping low. The Indians read the pitch perfectly and executed their plans. They felt that 270 was a good target and the batsmen did not panic after a flurry of wickets fell in the middle overs. Mahendra Singh Dhoni was the key in getting India to a good total. When he walked in at the 29th over, Pandya was the only recognised batsman after him. He protected his wicket, not taking any risks whatsoever. He got lucky with a botched stumping but kept his calm and in trademark fashion, kept the best for the last.
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India’s field placements and bowling changes were immaculate. Kohli knew which bowler to call upon for any given situation and just like the batting, the bowling line-up looks versatile and ready to execute according to the situation.
Promoting Kedar Jadhav above MS Dhoni was perhaps India’s only wrong decision. Jadhav is best suited for cameos at the end and should essentially come in after 40 overs. Against Afghanistan, he showed that he can re-build the innings after a collapse and bide his time if required, but if he is sent in ahead of Dhoni, the tail looks a tad thin. Dhoni does a better job of carrying his wicket till the slog overs than Jadhav.
India showed that both the batsmen and bowlers can back each other to the hilt. They look like a well-oiled machine and will look to tackle England head-on when they meet on Sunday.
The West Indies have looked good in sparks and will cherish their positives. They have no chance of making it to the semis and will look to play spoilsport to other teams vying for a place in the top 4.Home » cricket world cup 2019 » Kohli and Shami’s mastery knock the Windies out
Also published on Medium.