5. Shami’s Death Bowling
The Indian fast bowlers—especially Jasprit Bumrah and Mohammed Shami—have been in stellar form in this tournament. While Mohammed Shami has regularly fetched India early breakthroughs, Bumrah has been the MVP as far as the bowling department is concerned, given his ability to take early wickets with the new ball, break partnerships in the middle overs, and nail yorkers at the death to break batsmen’s defences.
Bhuvneshwar Kumar, too, has done well in the few opportunities that have come his way. That said, Shami’s tendency to leak runs at the death is a concern for India heading into the knockouts.
Notwithstanding his amazing wicket-taking form in the tournament (14 wickets from 4 games at an average of 13.79), his figures against England and Bangladesh in the death overs took a beating, despite Jasprit Bumrah keeping things tight from the other end.
Against England, he started off well but ended up conceding 44 runs off his last three overs, which in turn helped the English lower-order batsmen propel the total to 337/7. Against Bangladesh, he produced even worse figures, giving away 68 runs off only nine overs.
For India to do well in the knockouts, the fast bowlers must show the nous to keep things tight in the end overs, when the opposition batsmen look to swing their bats at almost everything, and with there being very little to separate the top four sides, the results of the knockout games may well hinge on these contests between big-hitters and bowlers at the death.
Shami, who was left out of the playing XI for the Sri Lanka game, is certain to return for the semi-final, but it will be interesting to see if Kohli entrusts him or resorts to the more successful pair of Bumrah and Bhuvneshwar for bowling at the death.
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