World Cup 2019: India win contest between have lots and have nots, says Ian Chappell
India will be glad they were tested in this phase of the tournament; their batsmen would be well-advised not to present bowlers with such a demanding task in the knockout stage
The inequality in Indian society is perfectly summed up by the colloquialism: There are the have lots and the have nots. In the lead up to the match between India and Afghanistan, you would have described these two teams in exactly the same way. India have lots of financial clout, an ample infrastructure and a player pool that probably matches that of the rest of the cricketing world.
Afghanistan, on the other hand, have minimal cricket infrastructure, the player pool is limited and they have to scrap and scrape for every afghani, the local currency.
In reality, the enthralling contest that unfolded at the Hampshire Bowl was anything but the have lots versus the have nots. It evolved into the have lots of nerve from India, which they held magnificently, as typified by Mohammed Shami's electrifying hat-trick to finish off the game. Up against the have lots of determination from Afghanistan, which was amply displayed by the unflappable Mohammad Nabi, either with ball or bat in hand.
Afghanistan's Mujeeb Ur Rahman (right) congratulates India skipper Virat Kohli after their ICC World Cup group match at the Hampshire Bowl in Southampton on Saturday. Pic/AFP
It was the equally talented youngster Mujeeb Ur Rahman, who got Afghanistan off on the right foot with a magical delivery that deceived the in-form Rohit Sharma. Then it was KL Rahul, who fell next, after showing his usual promise but falling to an ill-advised reverse sweep. Rahul should listen to his skipper's rationale for sticking to the more traditional cricket shots and heed his thoughts. The batting mastery was provided by Virat Kohli, the only Indian player to score more runs than balls faced on a pitch that played on the slow side and encouraged the bowlers. Kohli was eventually undone by the extra bounce that Nabi extracted and from there the projected Indian total dipped with every passing dot ball. As usual MS Dhoni played the waiting game but on this occasion even his renowned patience failed. In the end, India struggled to reach a total that would have been satisfactory the last time they won the World Cup in England but was dangerously low in this era of big bats and small boundaries.
The fact that they were able to defend the meagre total by 11 runs was a tribute to a big-hearted bowling attack headed by Jasprit Bumrah, who was rewarded with the Player of the Match award. The Indian attack will be all the better for having to go through such an exacting exercise in this phase of the tournament. However, the batsmen would be well advised not to present them with such a demanding task once the knockout stage is reached.
This was the middle game of three, bookended by Sri Lanka and New Zealand's thrilling victories, which not only enlivened a tournament that was badly in need of some close finishes but also featured six innings without a score of three hundred.
The occasional six-hitting flurry producing a monster score is not a bad thing for the patrons but it shouldn't become the norm as it often leads to one-sided games. As these three matches displayed, a good contest between bat and ball that produces a close finish can provide all the drama a cricket fan requires.
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