Manchester: Indian bowlers, led by the deadly Mohammed Shami, produced yet another splendid performance to put their team on the cusp of a semi-final berth with a 125-run rout of the West Indies in their sixth World Cup encounter here Thursday.
With 11 points, India are now almost through and another win in their next three games will seal their position in the top four as West Indies were knocked out with two games remaining.
India scored 268 for 7, riding on half-centuries by Virat Kohli (72 off 82 balls) and Mahendra Singh Dhoni (56 off 61 balls) and it turned out to be good enough as West Indies were shot out for 124 in only 34.2 overs.
India also dethroned England to rise to the top of One-day International rankings and Kohli said he is happy with his team’s overall performance.
“I can’t complain, we just became No. 1 yesterday as far as rankings are concerned; to be honest, we are playing that way for a while, need to continue that way. Things haven’t gone our way with the bat in the last two games, but we have still done well to win, that’s being the most pleasing thing,” he said.
Kohli scored two successive fifties in difficult conditions — a 67 off 63 balls against Afghanistan and 72 off 82 balls against West Indies Thursday.
“I am happy with my own contribution as well. Last game, we didn’t calculate well, we lost two quick wickets, but we improved,” said the India skipper, who was adjudged Man of the Match for his crucial fifty.
“I look to play in my own way, happy to take the ones and twos which I think is a big factor in ODI cricket. Two difficult pitches, I’m happy with my contribution and look forward to doing more of the same in the future.”
Kohli also praised Hardik Pandya (46 off 38) and Dhoni for taking India to a competitive total. “Hardik played really well and MS finished strongly. When those two play in that way, we always get to a good total. To get to 270 was good, that put pressure on their batting and was very difficult to chase,” he said.
“I don’t need to tell anything to my batsmen, they have to adjust according to their strengths and weaknesses and play according to the pitch.”
Kohli also defended Dhoni after the barrage of criticism that the former skipper faced after his slow knock against Afghanistan in the last game. “Dhoni knows exactly what he wants to do in the middle. When he has an off day here and there, everyone starts talking. We always back him. He has won us so many games. The best thing about having someone like him is when you need those 15-20 runs, he knows exactly how to get them. His experience, 8 out of 10 times, has come good for us,’ he added.
Kohli said it was Dhoni who assured the team that 268 was going to be an easily defendable total for India.
“We have quite a few players who play instinctive cricket and follow their game plans. He’s such a keen understanding of the game. Always sends us feedback, that you know 260 is a good score. He’s a legend of the game. We all know that.”
West Indies skipper Jason Holder blamed his side’s inconsistent batting for their 125-run loss. ‘Thought the bowlers did a fantastic job on this surface. Just let ourselves down with the bat. In hindsight, Dhoni’s (stumping) miss – a crucial moment we didn’t seize,” he said.
“Let ourselves down significantly in this tournament. Missed a few chances in the field which cost us. Batting was too inconsistent. Can’t fault the bowlers. Need to improve. Probably our weakest format, this. Kemar Roach was outstanding. Youngsters have chipped in here and there. Bowlers had a reasonable campaign. Can’t fault their efforts. Fielding, definitely has to improve. So does the batting,” he added.
FOUR CONSECUTIVE 50+ SCORES IN WC (INDIA)
Navjot Sidhu (1987)
Sachin Tendulkar (1996 & 2003)
Virat Kohli (2019)
FEWEST INNINGS TO 20K INTERNATIONAL RUNS
417 V KOHLI
453 S Tendulkar/ B Lara
464 R Ponting
483 AB de Villiers
491 J Kallis
492 R Dravid