Rohit, Kohli and Suryakumar propel India top of Group 2

Rohit, Kohli and Suryakumar propel India top of Group 2

India 179 for 2 (Kohli 62*, Rohit 53, Suryakumar 51*) beaten Netherlands 123 for 9 (Bhuvneshwar 2-9, Axar 2-18) by 56 points

Fifty or so very different moods and rhythms from Rohit Sharma, Virat Kohli and Suryakumar Yadav saw India brush aside the Netherlands and climb to the top of the Group 2 table with a good increase in the rate of net race. Choosing to strike first on an MCG surface that was considerably slower than the one they played their first MCG tournament on, India put on a classic display of controlled dominance over the associated opposition, posting a parochial total and the ruthlessly defending.

Chasing 180, the Netherlands were never in the game and, for a time, looked in danger of being knocked out for less than 100. They avoided that fate, and No.11 Paul van Meekeren finished the sets with 4, 4, 4 over Arshdeep Singh to reduce their margin of defeat, but it was still a resounding 56 runs.

India’s five specialist bowlers shared the wickets, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Arshdeep, Axar Patel and R Ashwin taking two each, and Mohammed Shami one.

A costly non-revision
The new ball tipped over and sometimes came to rest on the batter as well. India scored just 11 runs in the first 2.4 overs of their innings, and van Meekeren also picked up a well-deserved early wicket, having a confirmed lbw shout after KL Rahul missed a shot from a late inswinger. Rahul did not review the decision, even though his opening partner Rohit seemed to suggest to him that the ball could have swung to the side of the leg; tracking the ball eventually proved Rohit right.

Three approaches, three fifty
Rohit struggled for fluidity on the slow surface but he kept trying to push the limits. He survived a lost chance – Tim Pringle took down a keeper mid-term when he was 13 – and finished his innings with a control percentage of just under 59, but his preparation to have the ugly air helped him keep the scoreboard moving in India’s first 12 overs of the innings. He made 53 of 39 balls; during his time at the crease, the two batters at the other end – Rahul and Kohli – combined to score 28 of 31.

Kohli finished with a control percentage of 75. During the first 21 balls of his innings, when Rohit was on the other end, Kohli’s control percentage was 81. Unlike Rohit, he did not take early on and chose to trust his abilities. to quickly mark once set. He did that and found the limit with increased frequency in the final five overs to score 30 of his last 14 balls, having scored 32 of 30 balls before that.

Suryakumar, meanwhile, has done what only he and a few others in the world can do. He shuffled this way and that, brought his wrists into play to whip and slice the ball into the gaps, and found the limit five times in his first 12 balls at the crease. He hit seven fours and a six on the last pitch of the innings to finish undefeated on 51-for-25, a jaw-dropping effort on slow ground but one that you might take for granted given how often he makes those things.

Together, these three rounds worked well for India to achieve what they had planned that day. The chances Rohit took early on happened often enough for Kohli to start conservatively, and Suryakumar’s blistering start allowed him to continue in that vein until the final five overs.

India’s tally of 179 was their lowest in T20I innings where they only lost two wickets or less, and Hardik Pandya and Dinesh Karthik didn’t even go out to bat, but India probably only took aim than normal on slow ground against associated opposition. Kohli probably took more risks in the beginning against a stronger team.

Bhuvneshwar sets the tone for a dominant bowling display
“Max O’Dowd or bust” has been an apt description of Dutch batting at this World Cup so far, and the opening overs have stuck to that theme. O’Dowd found the boundary with a nice pair of square drives off Arshdeep in the second, but either side of that Bhuvneshwar went 2-2-0-1, playing with pinpoint accuracy and dismissing Vikramjit Singh , launched by sliding over the line.

With the rest of the Higher Order struggling, O’Dowd had to fabricate limits and was fired trying to do so, exposing all of his strains to Axar and missing a sweep.

The challenge from the Netherlands fell after that, as Axar and Ashwin strangled them in the middle, before the fast bowlers came back to clean up the lower order. Arshdeep, dear at the start, came back to take two wickets in two runs, a wicked bouncer followed by a perfect yorker, and he was on a hat-trick when he started the final. By the end of that period, however, his numbers had taken a bruise and van Meekeren had given fans in the Netherlands something to cheer about.

Karthik Krishnaswamy is Deputy Editor at ESPNcricinfo

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