World Cup: India’s March To The Semi-Finals

Riding on their seven-wicket win against Sri Lanka at Headingley on Saturday, India became the table toppers with 15 points from nine matches.

On the other hand, Australia dropped to second spot after their 10-run defeat against South Africa. England are placed third with 12 points, while New Zealand occupy the fourth spot with 11.

India will take on New Zealand in the first semi-final to be be played at Old Trafford in Manchester on Tuesday.

Australia will lock horns with England in the second semi-final that is scheduled to be played at Edgbaston in Birmingham on Thursday.

Here’s a look at India’s dominating march to the semi-finals:

# Best Performance Vs. Australia

Despite Steve Smith and David Warner strengthening the Aussie juggernaut that was on a 10-match winning streak, India successfully managed to steal the momentum early on against the five-time champions. A nasty Pat Cummins’ delivery may have cut short his World Cup, but on that day Shikhar Dhawan was unstoppable, smashing his way to a century, with a steady Rohit Sharma, the typical Virat Kohli and a promoted Hardik Pandya lifting the total to 352. Then the seamers were exceptional with their lengths, and it does tell you a story when Warner scratches around for an 84-ball 56.

# Nervy Vs. Afghanistan

India’s match against Afghanistan was meant to be a walkover. India were riding high on confidence after thrashing Pakistan, while Afghanistan were low after their defeat to England. But India were stretched to their absolute limit. The batting–apart from Kohli–never really got going, with the Dhoni-Jadhav stand stagnating towards the death overs, leaving India with a paltry 224/8. Afghanistan seemed to be cruising in their chase at one stage with Shahidi and Rahmat Shah seemingly at ease, but Bumrah changed everything, getting both of them in the same over. And finally Shami saved India the blushes by bowling a hat-trick in the last over.

# The Graph So Far

After wins against South Africa, Australia and Pakistan, it appeared as though India had peaked a little too soon. And that was just the case, with the intensity clearly lacking against Afghanistan and West Indies, before the lack of intent being openly exposed against England. It triggered a timely wake-up call, a call to be less rigid with their team combinations, with the team then clearly lifting their standards to brush away Bangladesh and Sri Lanka.

# Rohit The Best

It’s often self-explanatory when someone seriously challenges the all-time record for the most runs in a World Cup within the league stage itself. But with five centuries–a tournament record already–and two of them (against South Africa and England) on pretty dodgy surfaces, Rohit Sharma has carried India’s batting mantle single-handedly. Yes, Bumrah has been exceptional with the ball, but with numbers as blatant as these, Rohit’s made it impossible to look beyond him.

# Kohli Plays Second Fiddle

It’s not often that Virat Kohli is forced to play second fiddle. Alas, such has been Rohit’s dominance that Kohli has hardly had anything to do. And in the few instances where he actually did, the skipper has only scored untypical, pretty 50s. But trust the big occasion of the knockout to bring out a renewed vigour in the champion batsman.

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