ICC World Cup: India look to tick all the nine boxes before the semis

Meanwhile, India's top four batters have begun their practice against left arm throwdown specialist in anticipation of facing Trent Boult

Shubman Gill and Rohit Sharma
Shubman Gill and Rohit Sharma

Gautam Bhattacharyya

The one-match-at-a-time refrain is back in the Indian camp even as they have one eye on their semi-final nemesis four years back – New Zealand. Come Sunday, they will be looking to ensure that there are no hiccups against qualifiers Netherlands in Bengaluru though they have quietly begun their preparations for the big game next week.

‘’We know we have nine boxes to tick, and we’ve ticked eight. And we would certainly like to put on another really good display, do our best. It's all we can ask for and hope for from the boys,’’ head coach Rahul Dravid maintained in the pre-match media conference.

A politically correct statement from Dravid as expected -- as any potential weak link in the performance after such an incredible performance graph from India may serve as a distraction.

The news from the garden city is that Nuwan Seneviratne, India’s stocky left-arm throwdown specialist from Sri Lanka, has started working overtime with the top four of their batting line-up: skipper Rohit Sharma, Shubman Gill,Virat Kohli and Shreyas Iyer.

Seneviratne, who can simulate the pace and acute angles that left arm pacers (read: Trent Boult) create from over the wicket, has been proving to be extremely handy in the Men in Blue’s scheme of things.

The returns showed when in their Asia Cup Super Four clash against Pakistan, Rohit effortlessly picked up Shaheen Afridi over backward square leg for a six and was simply ominous during his innings of 86 (off 63 deliveries) in their much hyped World Cup match on October 14.

It’s not a really a secret anymore that despite being a white ball giant that Rohit is and the form that he has been in, he has often been found wanting against the left armer’s delivery seaming into him.

Now that another round of an intriguing battle has now been set up, India will be casting a wary eye to see that there is no repeat of the 2019 semis debacle. On that occasion, it was Boult and Matt Henry who did the initial damage to reduce India to 5/3 – from where they failed to play catch up and eventually lost the game by 18 runs.

Any such heartbreak will even more disastrous this time around, given the fact India had hardly put a foot wrong over the last one month or so at home.

India, on their part, are making sure that they would not like to go into an experimental mode – just to give someone game time - and want to keep their playing XI in match practice mode.

Here’s what Dravid had to say when asked about any possible changes: ‘’I mean, honestly, we’ve had six days off from the last game. So, we’re pretty well rested and the guys are in good shape. That’s all I'll say without giving away the level. So, we've had six days off, we've got one game before the semi-final. Boys are rested. So that’s all I'll say.’’

Meanwhile, the seasoned Boult, whose Player of the Match showing against Sri Lanka on Thursday helped New Zealand place a firm grip on the semi-final spot, has fired the first salvo.

‘’I can't speak on what they're thinking but from our point of view to play World Cup in India and to come up against the host nation a team that's red hot playing good cricket at a great ground. You couldn't script it any better,’’ Boult said.

"I feel like we’ve done all we can from our point of view and yeah, we’ll just wait and see what happens,’’ he added.

Catch the match:

India vs Netherlands
When: Sunday, 12 November 2023
Where: Chinnaswamy Stadium, Bengaluru
From: 2 pm IST

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