Ind Vs NZ Semifinals: What Can be India’s Best Possible XI?
With Team India all set to face New Zealand in the first semi-final of ongoing ICC World Cup, the think tank is faced with a few choices to make, or to put it more aptly, a couple of gaps to plug.
In this podcast, we discuss what can be India’s best possible XI going into the knockout phase of the tournament. Tune in to Episode 220 of The Big Story!
The Rahul-Rohit-Kohli Trio
Throughout their campaign, India have had solid foundations, due to the impressive form of Rohit Sharma and Virat Kohli. With 647 runs at an average of 92.42, Rohit has set the big stage alight.
Kohli, on the other hand, hasn’t scored a hundred yet in this tournament but has 442 runs with five fifties and has looked as assured and in form as always throughout. Who knows, that big hundred might just be kept in store for the semis.
As far as KL Rahul is concerned, he has been patchy at times but he might have hit form just at the right moment with the hundred against Sri Lanka. With 360 runs in eight innings that includes a century and two fifties, Rahul is certain to keep his place and open the innings with Rohit Sharma.
Pant to Keep No. 4 Spot
Vijay Shankar’s injury means that the contentious No.4 spot is now with Rishabh Pant.
Pant so far has 84 runs in three innings but more importantly he has scored them at a strike rate of above 100 and in a situation where India is getting good starts, an attacking option at No.4 looks like a viable option.
Pant might not be the permanent solution at number four, but he looks set to retain the spot in the semis and the finals, if India qualify.
Karthik Trumps Kedar at 6
India started the tournament with Kedar Jadhav as the late-middle order man but he struggled to show flair in the limited opportunities that he got. Jadhav scored 80 runs in the six innings he batted, but made them at a strike rate of 80.80 - a rather slow pace for someone batting at No 6.
Also, much like Vijay Shankar, Kohli did not show much confidence in his bowling.
At a time, when ‘intent’ in the slog overs is turning out to be one of India’s major problems, something that even Sachin Tendulkar criticised Jadhav for, Karthik is definitely a better choice than Jadhav. Also, working in Karthik’s favour is his fielding, a department where he scores much more than Jadhav.
The only concern might be Karthik’s lack of match exposure off late. He managed just eight runs in the only opportunity that he got to bat, but with the team management showing faith in him in the last two group stage matches, it is unlikely that he will be dropped.
Jadeja Over Kuldeep
Since the loss in 2017 Champions Trophy final, almost on a regular basis, India has invested faith on the wrist-spin duo of Kuldeep Yadav and Yuzvendra Chahal. However, Kuldeep seems to have hit a bad patch since the IPL, which he carried on to the World Cup.
The chinaman has so far picked up just six wickets in the seven matches that he has played at a rather poor average of 56.16. Even worse, because Yadav is seen as an attacking wicket-taking option.
On the other hand, Jadeja’s left arm spin looked really promising in the match against Sri Lanka and he definitely adds more zing to the batting and fielding aspects of the team.
Shami Edges Past Bhuvi
Mohammed Shami made a late entry to the playing XI only after Bhuvaneshwar Kumar got injured and set the stage on fire by picking up a hat-trick against Afghanistan. In fact with 14 wickets in four matches at a stunning average of 13.78, he is India’s second highest wicket taker in the tournament.
Bhuvaneshwar maybe a handy customer with his ability to swing the ball in overcast conditions which are expected in Manchester on Tuesday, but his performance against Sri Lanka in his comeback match where he leaked 70 runs in his ten overs, is likely to encourage Kohli against taking a chance by picking him in the semifinal.
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