In the 2019 International Cricket Council World Cup opener, India beat South Africa by six wickets. In an encouraging start for Indian fans across the globe, the team took home a win at the very outset of the international tournament. Now, India is preparing to meet an age-old, worthy rival— Australia— out on the field later today.
In the match against South Africa, Indian vice captain Rohit Sharma was especially lauded for his mastery as a batsman.
Sports journalist Sreshth Shah said that the last three players to score the world cup’s first match-winning hundreds also took their teams to win the cup— in 2019, Sharma scored the first winning century.
Bowlers Yuzvendra Chahal and Jasprit Bumrah also got recognition for their performance.
The Indian men’s cricket team also visited Indian High Commissioner Ruchi Ghanashyam in London. The players have only had one day to prep for their match against Australia because their practice session was rained out.
In the 2019 ICC World Cup, Australia has won both its matches so far—first against Afghanistan and second against West Indies.
India versus Australia
India and Australia will be playing their first match against each other at Kennington Oval, more commonly known as The Oval, London. Since the two countries first played against each other in 1980, they have had a competitive, and sometimes acrimonious, dynamic when it comes to cricket.
One of the most well-known standoffs between the teams was when Harbhajan Singh was accused of making a racist remark towards Andrew Symonds by calling him a “monkey”. Singh was banned, but India protested the punishment and even threatened to boycott further test matches. The ban was lifted in the end.
Gautam Gambhir, however, was banned from a test match in 2008 when he elbowed Shane Watson. In 2012, Virat Kohli was also fined half the match’s fees for showing the crowd his middle finger after Australia won the game.
Australia has had its fair share of punishments as well, when Michael Slater was fined and asked to apologise to Rahul Dravid for insulting him. In a 2008 match that India lost by 122 runs, Virendra Sehwag accused Australian captain Ricky Ponting of cheating and excessive appealing.
Of all, the one-day matches India and Australia have played against each other, India has won 49 while Australia has won 77. Hence, Australia has a statistical edge over India.
After losing 11 out of 13 ODIs in 2018, Australia has made an impressive comeback by winning 11 out of 15. Times of India notes that leading batting pair Steve Smith and David Warner and bowler Mitchell Starc have added to the team’s technical advantage.
However, the match against Australia is only India’s second. So, Kohli can still lead his team to a victory later in the tournament. Moreover, cricket commentator Allan Border said that India’s world-class team including Kohli, Sharma, and Bumrah will prove tough to beat for the Australian team.
Kohli said, “We go into the World Cup feeling very balanced and confident. All our players have been in great form in the IPL”, said Kohli.
India’s 2019 ICC men’s world cup team
India was one of the first teams to announce its 2019 men’s world cup squad.
The team comprises of Shikhar Dhawan, K L Rahul, Vijay Shankar, Kedar Jadhav, Dinesh Karthik, Yuzvendra Chahal, Kuldeep Yadav, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Jasprit Bumrah, Hardik Pandya, Ravindra Jadeja, and Mohd Shami.
MS Dhoni is the wicketkeeper and Kohli, Sharma, Dhawan, and Shankar are starting four batsmen on who India has pinned hopes of high tallies.
Some commentators and experts were surprised that Rishabh Pant was snubbed from the team roster. Former captain Kris Srikkanth said, “Very surprised to see that Rishabh Pant not included in the world cup squad! He can change a game within a matter of a few overs…”
India has won the world cup twice before— in 1983 under Kapil Dev and in 2011 under MS Dhoni. 2019 is the country’s third attempt at the championship title.
India’s next match is with New Zealand on June 13. And three days later, on June 16, India will play Pakistan in one of the most awaited and watched line-ups of the world cup.
Rhea Arora is a Staff Writer at Qrius.