When they landed in England for the World Cup the Indian team was a semifinalist in the list of the vast majority of cricket fans. Their No 2 ranking, their recent form and the balanced team personnel made an entry into the last four almost a certainty. Now that they have made sure of that berth it is time to look back at the campaign and also look forward and assess their chances of going a couple of steps further and lifting the trophy for a third time.
Both Australia and India who occupy the first two spots in the points table are likely to finish first and second what with the former set to play South Africa in their last game and India up against Sri Lanka in their final encounter. India are certainly deserving of second place for they have played cricket of a high order despite the fact that they faced injury problems that can affect the balance of any side. The No 4 slot and the middle order did present headaches but Rishabh Pant might have solved the first problem and it is to be hoped that MS Dhoni and Hardik Pandya will take care of the latter in the remaining matches. However the top order of Lokesh Rahul, Rohit Sharma and Virat Kohli will continue to remain the fulcrum with the captain and his deputy looking unstoppable.
The bowling is another reason why India’s progress has been smooth. The pace attack has come out with flying colours despite having to bowl on pitches that have generally favoured batsmen and Hardik Pandya has given admirable support as an additional seam bowler besides of course doing more than his bit with the bat. Jasprit Bumrah has easily been the pick of the lot but Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Mohammed Shami are not far behind. The spin duo of Kuldeep Yadav and Yuzvendra Chahal has not performed up to expectations with the former being particularly off colour. Perhaps it is time to bring in Ravindra Jadeja.Looking ahead it is just a question of two good games in the knock out but of course that goes for all the four teams making the grade. Interestingly the only match Australia has lost so far has been to India but the defending champions are peaking at the right time so they should be the team to beat irrespective of which of the three contenders - Pakistan, England and New Zealand - fill up the last two places.
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