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SURYA, BUMRAH SHINE IN WIN OVER AFGHANISTAN

Team India’s campaign in the T20 World Cup Super Eight stage has got off to a smooth start. In their opening clash with Afghanistan, Rohit and his warriors scored a comfortable victory by 47 runs. In the game’s initial phase on a slow pitch, it seemed the change from USA to West Indies would not be easy but ultimately India emerged convincing winners.

The clinical victory, however, unveiled both strengths and worries for the Indian side as they march forward at the World Cup. Suryakumar Yadav was the hero of the day as his pivotal knock rescued India from a precarious position and earned him the Player of the Match award. But led by the inimitable Jasprit Bumrah, it’s the bowlers who saved India the blushes after the batters failed to sparkle at their brightest.

The game started with India winning the toss and opting to bat first, a decision that’s become customary for them in recent matches. However, concerns loomed over the form of openers Virat Kohli and Rohit Sharma. Rohit, in particular, struggled on a slow deck and managed just 8 runs off 13 balls before falling to a mistimed stroke. Kohli, too, found it tough to accelerate against Afghanistan’s disciplined bowling, eventually departing for a modest 24 off 24 balls.

Amidst the setbacks, Suryakumar Yadav showcased his T20 prowess, anchoring the innings with Hardik Pandya. Their partnership rescued India’s innings from a precarious 90 for 4 to an ultimately imposing total of 181. Surya was the standout batter for India, smashing 53 runs off just 28 balls - his innings with a strike rate of around 200, underlined his significance as a stabilizing force in India’s batting lineup.

While the middle-order success has been a silver lining for India in recent matches, questions persist over the opening pair. Some pundits are advocating Yashasvi Jaiswal’s inclusion in the lineup, proposing a potential shift of Virat Kohli to number three.This adjustment could boost the batting order and capitalize on Kohli’s legendary prowess in the middle overs. The Rohit-Yashasvi duo could also give India the advantage of a left-right pair at the top, but the Indian think-tank believes the Virat-Rohit pair offers stability at the top and gives the advantage of an extra batter in the middle order.

Another contentious issue revolves around the choice between Shivam Dube and Sanju Samson. Critics argue in favor of Samson, highlighting his superior batting ability and his prowess as a big hitter. The management’s decision to persist with Dube hinges significantly on his bowling prowess, a factor that has raised eyebrows since India has hardly used his bowling in the tournament.

On the bowling front, India’s campaign has been bolstered by the exceptional performances of Jasprit Bumrah, who continues to dazzle with his sizzling pace, precision and economy. Bumrah’s tally of conceding just 4 boundaries and grabbing 8 wickets in the World Cup so far, underscores his critical role in the team’s success.His economy rate of 1.75 runs per over against Afghanistan underscores his effectiveness in stifling opposition batsmen.

Supporting Bumrah, spinners Ravindra Jadeja and Kuldeep Yadav also had a good outing, showcasing their both their containment and wicket-taking abilities. Meanwhile, Axar Patel remains in superb form, providing the Indian team with depth in both batting and bowling.

Looking ahead, India faces Bangladesh and Australia in quick succession, necessitating swift adjustments and key decisions. Bangladesh, despite a loss to Australia in their previous encounter, remains a formidable opponent capable of upending India’s aspirations if taken lightly. The upcoming matches will serve as litmus tests for India’s preparedness against top-tier teams like England, South Africa, and Australia.

The path to glory appears promising for India, provided they effectively address their batting inconsistency and tactical dilemmas. The team’s ability to harness the strengths of key players like Suryakumar Yadav and Jasprit Bumrah while finetuning their batting order will be crucial in navigating the challenges posed by formidable opponents.

The squad’s unity, spirit and determination have been a vital factor so far, with each player contributing to the collective effort. Despite challenges, optimism runs high within the camp, buoyed by recent victories and individual performances. The management’s decisions in the coming days will be critical, and if they strike a proper balance of stability with innovation they are bound to optimize India’s chances of lifting the coveted trophy.

India’s win against Afghanistan reflects just why they’re one of the top favourites. The top order didn’t fire but the middle order got the job done; and the bowlers were simply superb and outclassed Afghanistan. The opportunity is ripe for star-studded India to assert their dominance, remain aggressive and emerge victorious on the global stage of T20 cricket.

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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