“Intensity has been the standout thing for me… Mindset really matters, and there is a lot of self-belief in the team right now. We feel we can win from any situation. Nothing is impossible” - Virat Kohli, after the win against the West Indies.
Nothing sums up the current Indian cricket team better than these words by Virat Kohli after their thumping 125-run win against the West Indies in the ongoing ICC World Cup - a win that has now put India just one point away from joining Australia in the semi-finals.
It was an all-round display by the Men in Blue at Old Trafford on Thursday - a day that also saw them surpass England to become number one in the ICC ODI rankings. Winning the toss and electing to bat first, India lost Rohit Sharma early to a dubious DRS review call, but were propped up by a solid 48 off 64 balls by KL Rahul. Virat Kohli continued his good form with yet another half century, before playing a careless shot to get out for 72. The under-fire MS Dhoni, who survived a stumping and a run out attempt in the same delivery, made 56* off 61 balls while Hardik Pandya made a quick 46 off 38 balls to help India to a below par score of 268/7.
However, while the batsmen had an average outing, the Indian bowlers stepped up and delivered. Mohammed Shami and Jasprit Bumrah ran through the Windies batting line-up, ably assisted by Yuzvendra Chahal, giving India a comprehensive 125-run win.
Here are some of the highlights:
Virat Kohli breaks records
With Rohit Sharma dismissed early, Virat and Rahul looked to build a solid partnership, and once again the Indian skipper delivered. With Rahul patiently building his 48 runs off 64 balls at the other end, Kohli smashed his fourth straight fifty in the World Cup.
The Indian skipper looked good for a century, before a slow bouncer by Jason Holder caught him off-guard and he holed out to mid-wicket. Kohli’s 72 off 82 balls earned him the Man of the Match Award and also made him the fastest to 20,000 international runs, surpassing Sachin Tendulkar and Brian Lara.
Under-fire Dhoni backed by Kohli
MS Dhoni walked in with the score at 140/4, with the in-form Virat Kohli at the other end, allowing him to build his innings patiently in the manner he likes.
The Indian wicket-keeper has been under fire lately for his slow innings, especially his failure to rotate the strike against the Afghanistan spinners in the previous match where he made a painfully slow 28 off 52 balls.
While Dhoni’s innings of 56* off 61 balls against the Windies was also not very quick, it was a well-constructed knock, especially once India lost Kohli and Pandya.
"He (Dhoni) is one guy in the middle who always sends out a message for the team: 'I think this is the par score on this pitch'...he has such a keen understanding of the game,” said Virat Kohli backing Dhoni at the post-match presentation ceremony.
"He has always been that way, that is his strength, to play calculated cricket, to always stay in the game, equal to the opposition and then find ways of winning. He's a legend of the game, we all know that. He's doing a tremendous job for us and hope he can continue,” he added.
The Shami-Bumrah show
India’s batsmen may have put on an average show, but the bowlers made sure that 268 was an easy score to defend - another indication of the all-round strength of this Indian cricket team.
Hat-trick man from the previous match, Mohammed Shami is making the most of the opportunity provided to him by Bhuvneshwar Kumar’s hamstring injury.
He was at his attacking best yet again, snapping up the wickets of the dangerous Chris Gayle, Shai Hope, Shimron Hetmyer and Oshane Thomas to end with figures of 4/16 in 6.2 overs. Bhuvneshwar might find it tough to find a place in the squad once he recovers, with Shami now having taken 8/56 in the two games he has played.
Shami was ably assisted in his task by Jasprit Bumrah (2/9), who took two wickets in two balls, narrowly missing a hat-trick, and Yuzvendra Chahal (2/39). India eventually dismissing the West Indies for a paltry 143.
West Indies’ disastrous World Cup outing
The West Indies were almost already out of semi-final contention before the game against India and their 143 all out in the match was just another reflection of what has been a terrible World Cup campaign for the Caribbean nation.
The loss meant that they no longer even have an outside chance of qualifying for the semis and they have now had 5 defeats in 7 games with one washout and the opening win against Pakistan.
However, Windies bowler Kemar Roach, who had a good outing against India with his 3/36 helping restrict the Men in Blue to 268, was hopeful about the future of West Indian cricket.
“We’re still learning, couple of young guys on the team got a great future for them. And it’s all about being positive and looking forward. I’ve confidence in the guys. I’ll always be a fan of West Indies cricket for sure. And there’s no doubt about it,” he said after the match.