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Team India

CWC19 report card: India

India feature

Tagged as one of the pre-tournament favourites, the Men in Blue lived up to their reputation by topping the points table, losing only one game in the league stages. However, an uncharacteristic top-order collapse in the semi-final shattered all hopes of winning a third World Cup title.

Overview

Powered by their top order's consistency and backed by sustained bowling efforts, India looked the team to beat for the most part of the World Cup. They notched up clinical wins in their first three completed games, against South Africa, Australia and Pakistan, before the bowlers overshadowed below-par batting returns against Afghanistan and West Indies.

Video cwc19 08 Jul 19
Five-star Rohit Sharma

A 31-run defeat to England - their first of the tournament - acted as an eye-opener. A switch to an aggressive approach, against Bangladesh and Sri Lanka, resulted in convincing wins and ensured that the team headed into the knockouts with confidence.

Ahead of the semi-finals, India were hot favourites still, facing New Zealand who had lost their previous three games. However, the Kiwi opening bowlers reduced India to 5/3, and later 92/6 in the run-chase. The two-time champions never found themselves ahead of the required rate, and eventually fell short.

Video cwc19 10 Jul 19
Nissan POTD – Guptill's perfectly timed throw to remove Dhoni

Positives to take home

Balanced bowling unit. India have slowly moved away from their reputation of being a batting-reliant team. The Virat Kohli-led side went into the tournament with only three frontline seam bowlers. Yet, the team management had a tough time choosing between the in-form Mohammed Shami and Bhuvneshwar Kumar to partner Jasprit Bumrah in the final XI.

Bhuvneshwar's injury presented an opportunity to Shami, who picked up 14 wickets in four matches, including a match-defining hat-trick against Afghanistan. The spin duo of Kuldeep Yadav and Yuzvendra Chahal too, barring the outing against England, made their presence felt throughout their campaign. 

Video cwc19 22 Jun 19
CWC19: IND v AFG - Mohammad Shami's hat-trick

Formidable despite injuries. KL Rahul, who was earlier slotted in to bat at no.4, embraced the role of an opener in the absence of the injured Shikhar Dhawan, stitching three century stands with Rohit Sharma. Rishabh Pant showed promise too, replacing Vijay Shankar in the middle order.

Performance of the all-rounders. Hardik Pandya's returns with both bat and ball, and Ravindra Jadeja's revival were the highlights of India's campaign. Both Pandya and Jadeja (in the two games he played) contributed handsomely with the ball, as India barely appeared a bowler short. While Hardik produced late batting fireworks in the final leg of the innings on a consistent basis, Jadeja registered one of his best-ever ODI efforts in the semi-finals, with his stroke-filled 77.

Video cwc19 10 Jul 19
CWC19 SF: IND v NZ – Highlights of Jadeja's 59-ball 77

Areas to improve

India's unblemished top order almost invariably brought about match-winning results on a consistent basis. However, the vulnerable middle order rarely had a back-up plan, in case of early wickets. The batsmen rarely dominated the game once the top three were back to the hut. MS Dhoni, designated the role of holding the innings together, came in to bat at No.7 in the semi-final, surprising quite a few. As Dhoni nears the end of an illustrious career, team India will have to start looking for options beyond him, to form a solid nucleus for the middle overs.

Rising star

Rishabh Pant was perhaps the most notable absentee from the initial squad. After being included in the side as a replacement, Pant might not have produced match-defining performances but has certainly demonstrated his skills as an ODI batsman. His 29-ball stay at the crease, against England, in his first World Cup appearance, kept India within reach of the target. A quickfire 48 against Bangladesh, after India had slipped to 237/4, despite a 180-run opening stand, ensured a match-winning total of 314-9.

Video cwc19 30 Jun 19
Virender Sehwag on Rishabh Pant - should he open?

However, it was his innings in the semi-finals which, in a way, started the rescue act after a horrid start. Walking in to bat at 5/2, Pant saw two more wickets fall at the other end but showed grit and patience during his 52-ball stay.

Results

League stages

05 June: v South Africa, Hampshire Bowl, Southampton - India won by six wickets

09 June: v Australia, The Oval, London - India won by 36 runs

13 June: v New Zealand, Trent Bridge, Nottingham - Match abandoned without a ball bowled

16 June: v Pakistan, Old Trafford, Manchester - India won by 89 runs (DLS Method)

22 June: v Afghanistan, Hampshire Bowl, Southampton - India won by 11 runs

27 June: v West Indies, Old Trafford, Manchester - India won by 125 runs

30 June: v England, Edgbaston, Birmingham - England won by 31 runs

02 July: v Bangladesh, Edgbaston, Birmingham - India won by 28 runs

06 July: v Sri Lanka, Headingley, Leeds - India won by seven wickets

Semi-final

10 July: v New Zealand, Old Trafford, Manchester - New Zealand won by 18 runs