Rahul Dravid appeared unaffected by the absence of an additional bowler, even subtly alluding to Kohli. India managed to pass the test against New Zealand, England, and Sri Lanka despite the lack of a sixth bowling option due to Hardik Pandya’s injury. The inclusion of Mohammed Shami bolstered their pace attack. Nevertheless, as the team approached the semifinals, the real challenge lay ahead.
Questions arose about their concern regarding the absence of an extra bowling choice after Hardik’s World Cup exit due to injury. Hardik sustained an ankle injury during India’s fourth World Cup match against Bangladesh on October 19, leading to his rehabilitation at the National Cricket Academy in Bengaluru. Unfortunately, he didn’t recover in time for the remaining matches.
In Hardik’s absence, India played three matches with Shami as the replacement, winning convincingly as the veteran pacer emerged as the hero, securing 14 wickets in three games, including two five-wicket hauls. Shami ascended to the pinnacle of India’s World Cup wicket-taking chart.
Nevertheless, with challenging fixtures ahead, including a crucial clash against second-placed South Africa and the upcoming semifinal, the lack of a sixth-bowling option could pose a significant challenge for India’s title aspirations. Dravid, however, expressed confidence, suggesting that Kohli, who had only bowled three deliveries in the World Cup, might contribute a couple of crucial overs when needed.
Dravid further said: “Yes, we don’t have the option to have a sixth proper bowler but we have a wrong-footed inswinger menace whom we can back for a couple of overs. He was close to doing so in the last game with the crowd pushing him to do so. The response of the team and the players have been really good.”
Dravid also shared insights about the ex-Indian captain’s pursuit of matching Sachin Tendulkar’s record for the most ODI centuries in cricket history. Kohli had approached this milestone during the match at Wankhede against Sri Lanka but narrowly missed it by a mere 12 runs. However, the head coach disclosed that Kohli appears to be in a calm state of mind, prioritizing his role within the Indian team over individual accomplishments.
“Virat has been really relaxed and keen to do what he has been doing for India. I have seen nothing different in how Virat goes about his business, not worried about his 49th or 50th or his birthday.”