World Cup: India’s only worries seem to have been sorted

- October 30, 2023
| By : Khurram Habib |

Given a chance, India defend successfully and middle-order rises to occasion; bowling coach Paras Mhambrey lauds Shami, Bumrah and others

The Indians ticked two boxes that they so dearly must have wanted to ahead of the knockout phase. One of them was to defend a total, and the other was to test the middle-order batting that hasn’t yet been exposed totally.

“This is the first time we batted ahead of the opposition and defended a small target,” said bowling coach Paras Mhambrey to media after the game, pleased with the bowlers’ effort.

India walloped England by 100 runs at the Ekana Cricket Stadium here in Lucknow, to notch their sixth successive win in the ongoing World Cup and retain the top spot in the points table.

Bowlers Mohammed Shami (4/22) and Jasprit Bumrah (3/32) produced inspiring spells of fast bowling to run through the English top-order and defend 229.

“That opening spell of Bumrah and Shami was very critical in terms of the game we were placed, defending a small target. The wicket had got flatter in the power-play. The way they bowled and picked those wickets laid the foundation for us. From there, we built on it,” said Mhambrey, a former India international.

Shami hadn’t played the first four matches but given an opportunity due to Hardik Pandya’s injury, he has now picked nine wickets in two matches. Shami registered a five-wicket haul against New Zealand last week before claiming four on Sunday.

Mhambrey said that his job is easy due to the experience in the line-up.

“When you have such kind of skills-set in the team, what Shami and others bring, you really don’t need to have a discussion over it. These guys have played enough cricket and understand what is needed by the team. I wish I could say this that we had a team discussion and planned for this. The quality of the bowlers we have in the team, the experience they bring to the table, it makes my job easier,” added Mhambrey who said that an update on Pandya’s availability for the remaining tournament will be done in a couple of days’ time.

The former India pacer, who represented India in two Test matches and three ODIs, said his discussion with the bowlers is on tactics and not on technique.

“It is all about man-management at this level. They have played enough cricket; they understand bowling inside out. I don’t explain much about the technical bit but only about the tactical bit. The bottom-line is about execution. The credit goes to them.”

While India were successful in defending the total, they also got to test the middle-order that had been lacking in practice on a testing pitch.

“The opportunity was there. They utilised it. The middle-order did not get an opportunity to play earlier. Only KL Rahul got a chance to play in the middle-order in Chennai. It is important everyone gets a chance. This game was like that only. The pitch was difficult; there are some areas where we can improve. We were 30-40 runs short. We will discuss things on which we need to improve,” added Mhambrey.

The tail also got time to bat. Importantly, the tail-enders held out and helped India last 50 overs.

The ninth wicket between Kuldeep Yadav (9 not out) and Bumrah (16) realised 21 important runs.

Kuldeep said that the tail-enders have been working on batting in the nets even though they aren’t getting opportunities to bat in the game.

“I am working hard on my batting. If I contribute 10-15 runs, it helps the team. The last 20-odd run partnership helped us to reach a good target of 230. I felt [after] that we could defend it,” said Kuldeep to the media.

“It is not like I am only batting in matches. I’m also working on my batting in practice. Sometimes I score, sometimes maybe it doesn’t hit the bat and I get out. We get the last 3-4 overs to bat, so sometimes when we don’t get a single and get a few dot balls, we get under pressure since we aren’t thinking like a batsman. So yes, we are working on batting.”