Hoping not to repeat their performance against England, India stepped up to the plate against Bangladesh on Tuesday, July 2. In some much-needed jubilation for Indian fans, the Men in Blue beat Bangladesh by 28 runs.
Earlier in the day, India won the toss and chose to bat, putting 314 runs on the board, a total, experts believed, Bangladesh could chase. The match did indeed go down to the wire, but India managed to come out on top, courtesy some exceptional bowling in the death overs by Jasprit Bumrah and Bhuvneshwar Kumar.
India and Bangladesh faced off at Edgbaston, Birmingham. The two have played 35 matches against each other, and India has won 29.
On the points table, before the match began, India was in second place with 11 points—three wins and one loss—and Bangladesh at the seventh place with seven points—two wins, two losses, and one rained-out match.
Rohit Sharma also hit a career milestone by scoring his fourth century in the ICC World Cup 2019. However, MS Dhoni’s “finisher” reputation has taken a hit in this tournament.
Ahead of the India vs Bangladesh match, cricket statistician Mazher Arshad had tweeted that Dhoni has logged one of the lowest batting strike rates in ODIs—61.58—since 2016. The wicketkeeper and former captain has been receiving heavy criticism since India’s loss to England on Sunday, June 30.
The first loss
The Indian team had already been sporting mixed feelings after the near-loss against Afghanistan—some players, like Virat Kohli, were still confident; the captain was seen smiling and even interacted with fans. Others, namely MS Dhoni, were feeling the pressure after boos from the crowd.
However, the previously unbeaten Men in Blue met their match in England.
The Times of India reports that Indian fans heckled Dhoni and Kedar Jadhav, as the batting pair struggled to keep up with the required run rate against England’s ferocious bowling attack.
India lost to England by 31 runs—the hosts had put up 337 on the board, but India could only manage 306. Dhoni and Jadhav between themselves played seven dot balls and scored 20 singles.
The batting line-up of Kohli’s team has received a lot of flak, especially with Shikhar Dhawan and Vijay Shankar out due to injuries.
Vice Captain Rohit Sharma said, “When Mahi and Kedar were batting, they were trying to hit (boundaries) but were not able to because of the slowness of the pitch. Towards the end, it got pretty slow. England bowlers mixed up their variations and kept us guessing.”
Kohli echoed a similar concern—the team’s performance was adversely impacted by the make-up of the pitch. However, others have argued that India’s performance wasn’t up to the mark and batting and bowling line-ups need to be more fluid than they currently are.
Commentators Nasser Hussain, Sanjay Manjrekar, and Sourav Ganguly said they were “baffled” by Dhoni and Jadhav’s batting performance in the match against England.
Sports journalist Joy Bhattacharjya tweeted, “Yes, the pitch probably did get slower. But 13 sixes to just 1 by India has to be a stat that is worrying.”
Sports blogger Nikhil also tweeted that he agreed with Ganguly that India’s middle order needs more “freedom” and younger players like Rishabh Pant and Hardik Pandya should “be allowed to play their strokes”.
Cricket commentator and journalist Harsha Bhogle had stronger words. He said, “The ground dimensions should not, in a World Cup game, decide the make-up of a team. India would have liked to play two spinners on this used surface.”
Prior to the Bangladesh match, Assistant Coach Sanjay Bangar said India’s batting line-up will see some changes. NDTV suggested that Pant could replace Dinesh Karthik and Bhuvneshwar Kumar could replace Kuldeep Yadav.
What’s next this World Cup?
The next match India will play is against Sri Lanka on Saturday, July 6. On the same day, Australia will go up against South Africa.
England and New Zealand will face off on Wednesday, July 3, and Afghanistan and West Indies will play on July 4. Pakistan and Bangladesh will play on Friday, July 5.
All teams are chasing a place in the first and second semifinals that will be played on July 9 and July 11, respectively. After that, the last two standing squads will battle it out in the final on July 14 at Lord’s in London.
India now has a place in the semi finals and will go on to fight for a spot in the final match of the ICC World Cup 2019. The country has already won the world cup twice before and now is the one to beat for the 2019 cup and championship title.
Rhea Arora is a Staff Writer at Qrius