Melbourne: India stormed to the top of the Group 2 Super 12 league of the ICC Men’s T20 World Cup last night by demolishing Zimbabwe by a staggering 71-run margin in their final round robin clash at the huge Melbourne Cricket Ground here.
The entry into the semi-finals of cricket’s showpiece T20 competition had been fraught with some inconsistent or even below par displays in the league phase.
In any competition of this nature such a scenario presents itself, top notch performances coming from some members and average displays arising from some others.
Virat Kohli, is still the tournament’s leading scorer with 246 runs from the five games that his team had featured in.
Suryakumar Yadav, who has scored in excess of 1200 runs this calendar year and also jumped to the number one global ranking in this format of the game, is creeping up fast towards the top of the run-scorers list with a tally of 223.
His out-of-the-box stroke-play in this tournament, in which he has employed some previously seen and some not seen audacious strokes, has also fetched him three half centuries, including the brilliant 61 not out off 25 balls that he made in front of 82,000-plus spectators at the MCG last night.
These two — Kohli and Surya Yadav — have been the standout performers with the bat for India.
In bowling, the pacers, expectedly, have dominated the show in conditions more suited to them.
Left-arm bowler Arshdeep Singh is on top of the heap from the Indian squad in the wicket takers’ list with 10 victims from 5 games going into the semi-final against England on November 10 at the Adelaide Oval
Next on the list is Hardik Pandya with 8 wickets after his 2 for 16 haul against Zimbabwe on Sunday night.
Among the Indian spinners the vastly experienced Ravichandran Ashwin has grabbed 6 wickets after his impressive figures of 3 for 22 against Zimbabwe.
Spinners, barring leggie Wanindu Hasaranga of Sri Lanka (15 wickets including the qualifying round in which India did not take part), have found the going tough in the cold conditions here.
Ashwin told reporters here in the mixed zone that under lights the ball has skidded on to the bat and there has not been much purchase for the slow bowlers.
“You need to understand that we are playing in different conditions. Day games were played in Adelaide today (where spinners did well) but we will be playing a night game (against England in the semi-final). In the game we played there (against Bangladesh) the ball skidded on nicely for the team batting second. We can’t go in with preconceived notions,” said Ashwin during his media meet in the mixed zone after the Zimbabwe clash.
“The curators also know how to prepare the pitch for the semi-finals. You have to play what is in front of us. Am looking forward to playing in the semis,” he added.
His spin partner, left-arm orthodox tweaker Axar Patel has been pretty expensive at times and has claimed only three wickets from four games (he was not in the eleven in one match).
Is there some concern over Axar’s bowling going into the last four, the team’s head coach Rahul Dravid was asked at the post Zimbabwe match presser.
“In a few games. But he’s had good games, as well. Again, that’s the nature of this tournament, this format,” said Dravid.
“It can happen in this format. I’m not necessarily concerned. Yes, he would have liked to have had a better day than today. But having said that, he’s been someone who’s actually bowled really well for us over the last period of time,” the former India captain commented.
“The nature of this format is such that you can get taken apart, especially on a day like today when they lost a lot of wickets there, nothing to lose, they could go after it. And he’s bowled well, as well. I think he bowled well in a couple of games and took a few wickets in those games, as well, and I thought he bowled a very good over against Bangladesh just before the rain break. He bowled an over for six runs,” he explained further.
Leggie Yuzvendra Chahal, till recently a regular in the playing eleven, has not figured in any of the five league games.
Dravid did not rule out Chahal’s inclusion when asked whether the Haryana leggie had any chance of figuring in the eleven at the Adeaide Oval on November 10 against England.
“We’ll have to go there and see. I watched some of the games today and I know the tracks were slow and they gripped and they turned a bit. We might be playing on a completely new strip in Adelaide, and the strip we played with against Bangladesh, to be honest, did not spin. It was, again, a different kind of wicket, and it was played at Adelaide, as well,” Dravid said at the post Zimbabwe match media conference.
“I think I can’t sit here now just after a game and predict what’s going to happen there. We’ll have a couple of days. We’ll go and have a look at that wicket and see what we think it might do. Of course, if it’s slow we’ll play according to those situations. If we think it might play differently, then we’ll have to put up a squad to match that.
“Like I said earlier, I think we have a completely open mind about everyone in our 15. Anybody that we need to pick will actually not make us a weaker squad,” he elaborated.