Hyderabad: If wishes are to be true, Virat Kohli and Ravi Shastri would like to end this World Cup on a fairy tale note. As captain and coach they have dominated the world cricket but an ICC Trophy (be it in one day, Test championship and T20), continues to elude them. Is this could be their moment?
This will be Kohli’s last stint as captain for T20 matches. For Shastri along with bowling coach Bharat Arun and fielding coach, this would be the final assignment for the Indian team. The naming of Mahendra Singh Dhoni as mentor is considered a masterstroke. His mere presence, according to Kohli, will inspire the team. “He has got massive experience. He is quite excited himself. He has always been a mentor for all of us. Younger guys who are playing their first major tournaments at early stages of their career will benefit,” said Kohli.
That India has a strong batting line up is indeed a big bonus. It is all about executing the skills and performing it consistently. The top three of Rohit Sharma, Rahul and Kohli speaks of class, timing, power and elegance. They play conventional strokes though Rahul can play 360 degree strokes. Kohli declared that he will bat at No.3 and will not open the innings. They are followed by Surya Kumar Yadav, Hardik Pandya, Rishabh Pant and Ishan Kishan, who are unorthodox and hard hitters of the ball. They can be destructive and entertaining with their reverse sweeps and scoop shots. Perhaps the batting forms of Kohli, Yadav and Pandya could be a concern or so. There is even a question mark on Pandya’s all-round skills as he has yet to bowl regularly. If he regains his full fitness, he could give more flexibility to the team.
In the first warm-up match, Bhuvneshwar leaked too many runs. A brilliant white-ball bowler, he has yet to get his rhythm and confidence back. Otherwise he may lose his place to the energetic Shardul Thakur, who has grown in stature with his all-round skills. Of course Jasprit Bumrah will continue to be the X-factor bowler. He is very crucial to India’s fortunes. Mohd Shami warmed up with a good three-wicket haul. He is a skiddy bowler. The presence of Ravichandran Ashwin and inclusion of wrist spinner Varun Chakravarthy provide variety to the Indian attack. Chakravarthy could be India’s trump card. Leg spinner Rahul Chahar failed to impress in the first warm-up match.
According to Shastri, the dew factor will decide whether the team will go with an extra seamer or spinner, particularly against the high-voltage opening Super Sunday match against Pakistan.
The stakes are high. India has a power-packed batting that can be explosive but then it has to fire at this big stage. All eyes will be on Oct 24 Super-clash.
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