T20 World Cup: India happy to win ugly as they move on from New York

It’s early days but Virat Kohli yet to settle down in opener’s role with Rohit Sharma

Corey Anderson greets Indian players on 12 June (photo: Getty Images)
Corey Anderson greets Indian players on 12 June (photo: Getty Images)

Gautam Bhattacharyya

The Men in Blue will not forget the New York leg of their campaign in this T20 World Cup in a hurry. Their three matches at the Nassau County International Cricket Stadium on their way to a Super Eight berth were far from the template Rohit Sharma & Co are used to – where their famed strokemakers normally play a key role.

It was, on the contrary, what one could call winning ugly in football parlance in all three matches against Ireland, arch rivals Pakistan and the US. The margin of victory against Ireland and associate member US (eight-wicket and seven-wicket ones, respectively) certainly do not reflect the anxiety and hard work while there was hardly anything to choose from between the two sides in their six-run win against Pakistan.

However, the team management will take this as the hallmark of a good team – as they say – is to prevail despite the bad days. It’s a rarity to have a T20 World Cup being played across two different countries with conditions as different as chalk and cheese and hence, the workouts of the last three matches on unusually seaming conditions with unpredictable bounce must have given them a reality check ahead of the Super Eight stage where each match will be crucial.

A far cry this from the smooth run in the 50-overs World Cup at home a little over six months back, where many felt that India ought to have stumbled in the odd match rather than heading for the final after a 10-match canter. The only remaining game in between their New York sojourn and the slow, low tracks of the West Indies is virtually a dead rubber against minnows Canada at Miami on 16 June, though the weather prediction suggests it may be a non-starter at Florida.

Given the conditions at Nassau, it was a no-brainer that the Indian seamers called the shots in all games so far with Jasprit Bumrah being virtually unplayable in the big game against Pakistan. It may be a little too early to do a critique of the Indian top order, but when someone like Virat Kohli’s sequence of scores read 1, 4 and 0 in the first three games, then eyebrows are bound to be raised. More so, when the master batter has come into the tournament on the back of amassing 700-plus runs to win the Orange Cap in the just concluded IPL.

While it will be the height of knee-jerk reaction to draw any conclusion about a dip in his confidence, one can revisit the wisdom of pitching the Rohit-Kohli combination as openers at the eleventh hour. The argument behind this, apart from the fact that Kohli’s runs came as an opener in the last IPL, could be two-fold: he could be the best bet at the top of the order with the tricky wickets in store while it’s not very tenable to find any other spot for him in the middle order.

The maturity of comeback man Rishabh Pant at number three was an extremely heartening one. Meanwhile, Surya Kumar Yadav showed there was another facet to his batting with the gritty 50 against the US – and that can only well be a welcome augury for the rest of the tournament.

What’s more, the body language of Hardik Pandya has changed in the Indian shirt and his critics will now wonder why his place was questioned in the first place. As the Caribbean leg looms, Kuldeep Yadav and Yuzvendra Chahal must be licking their lips to keep the batters guessing in the second half of the tournament.

Follow us on: Facebook, Twitter, Google News, Instagram 

Join our official telegram channel (@nationalherald) and stay updated with the latest headlines