India's World Cup campaign started on a great note with a victory over a dispirited South African side. It has now well and truly taken off with a convincing win over the defending champions and one of the contenders for the title, Australia. With this victory, India have now established themselves as the top favourites alongside England.
The Kohli-led side was ahead of the Kangaroos for the entire duration of the match. This victory of India can be attributed to 5 key factors. Let us quickly run through them.
Seeing off the new ball
When a team gets a score of over 350, the focus is on the big hits and aggressive batting from that side. But the main reason for India getting 353 was the fact that they remained unscathed in the first spell of the Australian new ball bowlers Mitchell Starc and Pat Cummins. Whatever help there was for bowlers was restricted to early overs and Australia didn't have an equally threatening third seamer. By not losing any wickets in the first blast of Australian bowling, India ensured that Australia would be behind the game for the rest of the match.
Australia choosing Zampa over Lyon
Adam Zampa and Nathan Lyon combined nicely on their team's tour of India to lead the Aussies to a famous 3-2 win in the ODI series. While Zampa was an aggressive wicket-taker, Lyon was the one who provided control. In England, the Aussies were not expected to play two spinners and they chose Zampa over Lyon. This proved to be a big mistake as Zampa's inconsistency came back to bite his team. Lyon, who showed great form in the ODI series against Pakistan and in the warm-up match would have provided more control in the middle overs. On top of that, he is simply a better spin bowler with a great record against India. It's very likely that he might have picked up a key wicket or two also.
Warner's strange innings
David Warner doesn't seem to have brought his great form in the IPL to English shores. In this match, he batted in a completely opposite manner to how he is expected to perform. His slow innings meant that the required rate kept climbing up and after his dismissal, the other batsmen kept trying to catch up. If it wasn't for the strike rate of Warner, his team may have got much closer to the target. Perhaps the odium of the English fans who are constantly targeting him is getting to the left-hander and he doesn't want to fail. Whatever it was, it hurt his team badly.
Sending Khawaja at no. 4
Usman Khawaja is a beautiful batsman to watch. But he is not an out and out dasher. He was sent in to bat at no. 4 after the dismissal of Warner. Australians were already under serious pressure and he needed to go for the big hits straight away. He tried and actually did quite well. But Glenn Maxwell, who came after him, seemed perfectly at ease in scoring at a very fast rate and, along with Steve Smith, gave India a period of great concern. But the asking rate was too high even for Maxwell. If he had been sent in earlier instead of Khawaja, perhaps he could have taken control of the match at a more manageable stage and helped his team get back in ascendancy. In the end he perished when his team needed a miracle to win. Holding him back proved very costly.
Absence of a good fifth bowler for Australia
Australia have only one good allrounder in their squad in the form of Marcus Stoinis. But even he doesn't seem to be too reliable as a fifth bowler. Stoinis may have picked up a couple of wickets but his overs allowed the batsmen to score freely. Aaron Finch used Glenn Maxwell also and he too, wasn't very effective. Australia have to find a solution to the fifth bowler problem. The most likely is to bring another bowler into the team and hope that players like Nathan Coulter-Nile and Pat Cummins, both useful with the bat down the order, can make up for the loss of the seventh batsman. Besides, if they have a good fifth bowler, perhaps, they wouldn't need that many batsmen to overpower the other team's target.