India’s ambitions of a third World Cup Trophy came to a grinding halt when their batting collapsed against an inspired New Zealand. In this article, I will focus on some of the memorable moments of India’s campaign.
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- Rohit Sharma’s five centuries, the first ever batsman to achieve that milestone in a single World Cup. He ended the campaign with 648 runs at an average of 81.
Coming into the World Cup, Rohit Sharma was suffering from a dip in form. A dismal IPL season for the Mumbai Indians, where he averaged a below-par 25 was followed by two failures in the warm-up games. But the Indian vice-captain soon found his groove and how. The first of his centuries came in India’s first game of the campaign against South Africa, where he anchored a tricky chase and returned to form with a timely century. He then exploded against Pakistan, smashing a 113-ball 140. His third hundred came against England, albeit in a losing cause. He looked scratchy but yet again, found the top gear when needed. Against Bangladesh, he hit five sixes in a 92-ball century and made it a hattrick of centuries against Sri Lanka.
Rohit batted with elegance and grace, making his stroke-play a sight to watch.
Hammering Pakistan for 7-0
India grabbed the bragging rights over neighbours Pakistan once again with a clinical display. Batting first, Rohit Sharma and KL Rahul raced off to a speedy start, after which Virat Kohli and Hardik Pandya applied the finishing touches. Kohli’s dismissal, where he decided to walk despite not edging or gloving a bouncer from Amir, added fuel to an already raging fire. This fire was doused by a calm and reassuring performance from the Indian bowlers and incessant rain, resulting in India getting the 2 points through the DLS method.
Vijay Shankar’s wicket off the first ball
Vijay Shankar, better known as India’s 3-D player, showed his bowling prowess against Pakistan. After Bhuvneshwar Kumar limped off due to injury, Vijay Shankar was trusted with the responsibility of finishing Bhuvi’s quota. The first ball he bowled resulted in the wicket of Imam-Ul-Haq, an inswinger which struck the pads. Kohli’s reaction during the wicket celebrations was priceless.
Mohammad Shami’s hattrick against Afghanistan
When Mohammad Shami ran in to bowl the final over, 16 runs was not the only thing he needed to defend. On the line were an unbeaten streak, pride and perhaps a top-place finish. After being clobbered for a four in the first ball, a smart fielding change, bringing Pandya finer to long on, gave Shami the confidence to try and execute the yorker. He did just that. After the second ball was pouched by Hardik, he produced two yorkers straight at the stumps and completed a hat-trick.
Ravindra Jadeja’s catch to dismiss Jason Roy
Jadeja did not get opportunities to be in the starting XI, but he did his part in the field, as a substitution fielder. He saved 41 runs, the most by a fielder, and held on to some spectacular catches, the best of which he pulled out to dismiss a well-set and dangerous looking Jason Roy. Jadeja ran a few metres and dived forwards in full stretch, hanging on to the ball despite a hard landing.
Ravindra Jadeja’s fighting 78 in the semi-final
After a top-order collapse left India 24-4 and later 92-6, Ravindra Jadeja was the last man standing between New Zealand and a breezy win. The man from Saurashtra would not budge, instead he dug deep with Dhoni and almost got India home. He targeted the right bowlers and used the right moments to attack. He brought the match down to the wire in a show of courage and a never-die attitude to remember fondly, despite the bitterness of a second consecutive semi-final exit.
Over the course of the World Cup, India have been consistent and played top cricket. Positive performances have to be noted, appreciated and cherished. India will return strongly, with a more battle-hardened squad with a few changes here and there. The hopes of an entire nation will be burdened on the shoulders on 15 men every four years, but the Indian players always find a way to keep their fans happy, despite the outcome.
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Also published on Medium.