India finished the league stages of the ICC World Cup 2019 on top of the points table with a comprehensive 7-wicket win over Sri Lanka at the Old Trafford, Manchester on Saturday. The Sri Lankan innings with the bat got divided into two halves wherein first the Indian bowlers got a great opening with some crucial wickets at the top. But then in the next half, Angelo Mathews compiled a fighting hundred to help his team finish with a competitive total on the board. However, in the second innings, the Indian opening pair of Rohit Sharma and KL Rahul composed a mammoth century partnership to help India pick up an easy win.
Rohit smashed his fifth century of World Cup 2019 and became the only player to score five hundreds in a single edition of the tournament. On the other hand, Rahul also stroked his maiden World Cup ton and finally brushed off all the pressure of not having able to convert his starts into a bigger score.
Earlier in the day, India made two changes to their winning combination against Bangladesh as the duo of Ravindra Jadeja and Kuldeep Yadav were brought into the team. The in-form bowling pair of Mohammed Shami and Yuzvendra Chahal were rested for this game against Sri Lanka.
"The only answer which I can say is that anyway the sixth bowler wasn't really bowling that many overs. So that is the reason wherein we are opting to play with this combination," explained Sanjay Bangar, India's batting coach, on Saturday (July 6), of the change in the thinking of the team management.
He’s still working, trying to add new things
Hardik Pandya, India's, all-round option has been used more often than not to finish his quota of overs and seems to have earned the confidence of his team. "Even in the IPL he has worked a lot on his bowling. He's still working, trying to add new things. That's a positive sign for a bowler because he's open to new ideas, open to changes," says Jasprit Bumrah, while Virat Kohli reckons that Pandya thinks like a batsman even when he bowls.
Pandya, the batsman, too contributed to another change in bringing Dinesh Karthik into the eleven at the expense of Jadhav. "What we thought was the number of overs that the sixth bowler was eventually bowling, and with we at times pushing Hardik up, so who was better suited at No. 7? Those were the questions that we discussed among us as a team management," said Bangar, before adding, "And because of that we went with a slightly different combination. But I feel that gives a lot of balance and a lot of strength."
Both strategies have their merits and demerits, with the former potentially weakening India's lower-order batting, and the latter running the risk of banking a little too heavily on their frontline bowlers. One bad spell could also turn a game decisively. But heading into the knockouts, India want to keep their options open.
Bangar remained non-committal if the five-bowler plan would be the way forward for India, which could also mean that there's room for only one of the two wrist-spinners in India's final eleven. "That might change according to the conditions but as far as the selection for the last two games was concerned, that is what we discussed," concluded Bangar.