The Biggest weakness of Indian Cricket Team was exposed in the semi-final of the ICC Cricket World Cup 2019.
Top order has been consistently getting runs for India throughout the League Stage of the competition but come the semi final it was susceptible by the fast bowling of the Black Caps. Chasing down a target of 240 at 4.8 required runs per over, it looked easy to some degree because of the highly rated and talented batsmen India have but it did not go according to the plan. India were at 5 runs with 3 wickets down in just 3.1 overs.
With Rohit Sharma, KL Rahul and Virat Kohli dismissed, Indian middle order was wide open. In past 2 years there have been a serious question, “Who is India’s number 4 batsmen?” “Who will bat at number 4?” Questions were raised on the middle order when the team was selected for the ICC Cricket World Cup 2019. Exclusion of Ambati Rayudu from the World Cup squad was a hot topic. Even when Mayank Agarwal was selected for the replacement of Vijay Shankar, again people asked questions “Why not Ambati Rayudu?”
In a high profile semi-final India were left with inexperience at the pitch in shape of Rishabh Pant and Hardik Pandya. India were 24-4 in 10 overs when Pandya came in to bat at number 6 position. Crowd biting their nails, head in hands and some scratching their head and MS Dhoni biting his bat in the dressing room, everyone was wondering “Where is Dhoni?”
Pant and Pandya tried building-up a partnership with Pant showing some good form on a pitch which was hard to bat on. But they both struggled in keeping the scoreboard ticking when Mitchell Santner came in to ball and persistence of Pant failed and he was caught in the deep of Santner’s Delivery.
India at 92-6 in 30.3 overs certainly looked down and out, although Dhoni was still there but it look a daunting task with 148 runs still required in 117 balls. It is easily achievable in this day and age of Cricket but situation and wickets in hands giving every Indian fan a stray look. But Ravindra Jadeja was not in mood to go out without a proper fight. Jadeja’s aggressiveness and Dhoni’s calmness somewhat steadied the ship for India. 116 runs partnership in no time took India to a very pretty and win-able position. 32 runs were required in 14 balls when Jadeja could not connect the middle of the bat with the ball and he was very nicely caught by Kane Williamson in such a pressure situation.
It was Again all on the shoulders of MS Dhoni to take India home, but Martin Guptill has other plans and he got Dhoni’s wicket with an exceptional throw straight at the stumps. From Guptill’s angle, it was only a single stump to aim at and oh boy! he did that with a fast throw and the ball landing straight at the stumps.
Dreams obviously shattered, Indian team and fans, all were dejected. With India out of the World Cup in this fashion there are several things to be answered. Is Ravi Shastri the right coach? Should Virat Kohli remain as an Indian captain? Who is batting number 4 when Shikhar Dhawan is back from the injury? MS Dhoni’s future? Is Rishabh Pant reliable?
With ICC T20 Cricket World Cup next year in Australia there are few things to be sorted out quickly.
India will be travelling west for the upcoming series vs West Indies. 3 T20Is, 3 ODIs and 2 Test matches.
Tour Starts on 3rd of August 2019.