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BOWLERS EXCEL BUT BATTING IS A WORRY!

India has had a commendable start to the T20 World Cup in the USA and raced into the Super Eights in fine style. Team India recorded an unbeatable run by navigating the tricky surfaces of New York with skill and determination. Despite the challenging conditions at the Nassau County Cricket stadium, the Rohit Sharma led team emerged unscathed, showcasing their resilience and adaptability especially in the Blockbuster Clash with Pakistan which produced a lowscoring thriller!

Though it’s the batting unit that generally enables the ‘Men in Blue’ to dominate, this time its India’s bowling attack that has been a highlight of their campaign so far. Passing all tests in flying colours, Indian bowlers, with Jasprit Bumrah leading the charge, have been simply superb in India’s winning march in New York.

Pace-ace Bumrah has been in top form, delivering match-winning performances and demonstrating why he is currently considered the most lethal bowler in the world. His exceptional effort against Pakistan was particularly notable, where he played a crucial role in turning the game in India’s favor though India’s batters had notched up a total of just 119.

In a superlative display, however, India’s underrated bowlers ultimately pipped Pakistan by six runs. At one stage, Pakistan were 72-2 and seemed poised for victory. But with Bumrah breathing fire and the others bowling with guile and discipline, India managed a fabulous win that sent Indian fans into ecstasy but pushed Pakistan to the brink of elimination as they had already lost to World Cup debutants USA.

Adding to Team India’s bowling strength, Hardik Pandya has found his rhythm, delivering consistently impressive performances. Pandya’s turnaround after a pathetic IPL season is a huge bonus for Team India. While he is yet to strike at his best with the bat, Pandya’s crafty bowling is a positive sign for India as they move forward in the tournament and provides a skillful, reliable option in India’s bowling arsenal on all pitches whether they favour pace or spin.

Left-arm pacer Arshdeep Singh has also been in impressive form and recorded the best bowling figures by an Indian in T20 World Cup history in the tricky game against USA. With magnificent figures of 4-0-9-4, Arshdeep helped to restrict USA to a modest target which Team India knocked off comfortably despite hiccups at the start.

While the bowling unit has been strong, India’s batting lineup has hardly fired anywhere close to its best. The opening pair of Virat Kohli and Rohit Sharma have struggled to find their form, a big cause for concern for fans keen to savour their strokeplay. Despite their underwhelming performances, many feel there’s no need to change the opening pair, given their proven track records. In some quarters, however, there is a talk of putting Yashasvi Jaiswal at the top and moving King Kohli to his number three slot where he has always excelled.

However, the middle order appears in need of a strategic re-adjustment. Shivam Dube’s inclusion in the playing XI has been questioned, especially since he has not been contributing with the ball. Experts suggest that Dube should be replaced by Sanju Samson who is not only a more accomplished batsman but also a powerful hitter, and can bolster India’s middle order significantly.

The potential washout of India’s match against Canada in Florida adds an element of uncertainty, but the focus remains on maintaining form and making strategic decisions to enhance the team’s chances. With a strong bowling attack and a potential tweak in the batting lineup, India is well-positioned to continue their impressive run in the World Cup.

As India advances to the Super 8s, the excitement of the World Cup is all set to intensify and the stage is now set for some thrilling cricket in the West Indies. The team’s performance in the upcoming matches will be crucial to determine their path forward in the tournament. While India is certain to face formidable Australia who have already qualified, the other two teams likely to confront India in the Group Stage of the Super 8s are Afghanistan and Bangladesh.

India’s World Cup journey so far has been marked by impressive bowling performances but major batting challenges. Though Rohit Sharma, Rishab Pant and Surya Kumar Yadav have shown flashes of brilliance, Team India’s batting powerhouse needs to start clicking in unison if the Men in Blue wish to return with an ICC trophy this time, something that’s eluded them for over a decade now. The team’s ability to adapt and make necessary changes will be a key element as they move into the Super 8s. Fans can look forward to an exciting phase of the tournament, with India poised to deliver more memorable performances.

THE VIEWS EXPRESSED BY THE AUTHOR ARE PERSONAL

Siddhaarth Mahan The writer is a specialist on Sports and Cinema who works as an actor in the Hindi film industry, presently he is in New York for the World Cup coverage

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