The Indian team had been in Australia for three months, but the form of the bowlers remained a major concern heading into the World Cup. However, come the tournament, and it seems a totally different ball game. Every time captain MS Dhoni has thrown the ball to his bowling brigade, they have delivered.
Mohammed Shami’s initial spells have been terrific, giving India headstart in the matches so far. Against West Indies at Waca, Shami was again the standout performer, bowling a terrific opening spell that frustrated the dangerous Chris Gayle, as he provided two big breakthroughs at the start.
Shami’s short and outside the off-stump line, controlled swing with good speed gave opener Dwayne Smith a torrid time. Shami, who had missed the last match due to knee strain, took Smith’s wicket with a beauty, inducing an edge to the keeper.
For Gayle, the pressure was built by keeping the ball close to off-stump. The Jamaican was always going to be the key. He struggled to find the middle of the bat against Shami and lost the battle in the ninth over with Shami’s first spell reading 6-2-192. It was a repeat of Shami’s fine efforts in the opening two games when his first spells paved the way for other bowlers to make inroads into the opposition batting line-up.
Even in the high-pressure match against Pakistan, Shami was incisive and gave India the opening breakthrough by sending back Younis Khan with a sharp bouncer in the fourth over. Working up a good rhythm, Shami’s first spell read 5-0-17-1.
At the Melbourne Cricket Ground, the bowler again put up a strong showing against the intimidating South African batting line-up. He finished his first spell at 5-1-15-1, getting Quinton de Kock for seven. Before the MCG game, in the three matches de Kock had played against India, his scores read 135, 106 and 101.
Skipper M S Dhoni highlighted how his spearhead was leading from the front. “Definitely Shami bowled well along with other bowlers. Shami, yes he bowled excellently. He also took extra responsibility of bowling with the new ball in this match. Overall, all the three pace bowlers are doing well. What the bowlers are doing well here,they are bowling as a unit. That actually increased the pressure on the batsmen,” said Dhoni.