World Cup 2019: If Rohit Sharma don't get you, Shikhar Dhawan will!
And in case the top three don't fire, Hardik Pandya could be a match-winner, going by his current mood
If Rohit Sharma don't get you then Shikhar Dhawan will; no early Indian wickets is a bitter pill. Despite a tidy opening spell from Mitchell Starc and Pat Cummins, Rohit and Shikhar built a platform for victory with yet another century stand. This pair has combined for more ODI runs as a partnership than even the legendary Gordon Greenidge and Desmond Haynes and India rarely lose when they set off with a century stand.
This day at The Oval wasn't an exception as Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Jasprit Bumrah finished off the good work done by the Indian batsmen in compiling the highest World Cup total against Australia. A measure of their skilful bowling was obvious in 'Dashing' Dave Warner's plodding half-century — 77 balls, the slowest he's ever scored.
A combination of tight bowling and poor placement from Warner saw him get visibly frustrated and Australia increasingly behind the required rate. Australia tried to counter by elevating Steven Smith to the No. 3 spot — where he should bat — but even in good form he couldn't reach the boundary often enough to boost Australia's chances.
Oz opener David Warner walks back after being dismissed for 56 against India at The Oval on Sunday. Pic/Getty Images
Smith's elevation meant Usman Khawaja dropped to No. 4. Khawaja is most effective as an opener and if he's not batting there, then Shaun Marsh is a better option in the middle order.
However, that is the least of Australia's selection concerns as the bowling fell away alarmingly once Cummins and Starc went out of the attack. The introduction of Nathan Coulter-Nile was a signal to Dhawan that it was time to make a move and he immediately upped the rate.
His ability to play spin well also helped to nullify Adam Zampa whose lack of turn on his leg-break is a concern for Australia. While Dhawan sailed along merrily to yet another century at The Oval, Virat Kohli struggled to find his timing and placement. It's a mark of the man's skill and temperament that even below his best he was able to make a meaningful contribution with the bat.
Nevertheless, his biggest contribution to the innings was the elevation of Hardik Pandya to No. 4. Unlike Australia's batting order changes this one worked a treat with Pandya man-handling the bowling to lift India's total into the realm of an extremely difficult chase, if not impossible.
In his current confident mood, Pandya could be a World Cup match winner; that's if the top three leave him with anything to do.
India has started the tournament well as they needed to with a tough draw. They would ideally like to include the indefatigable Mohammed Shami in the bowling line-up but that would mean either breaking up the spin pairing or leaving the lower-order batting dangerously thin.
This is their only real headache as they prepare to face the feisty New Zealand team in a battle that will leave only one side undefeated, unless the weather intervenes.
New Zealand's first priority will be how to split the highly successful Rohit-Shikhar combination. If one of 'em don't get you, the other one will.
India's next match, against an unbeaten New Zealand
World Cup 2019: Dominant India thrash Pakistan by 89 runs