Former India opener Krishnamachari Srikkanth has compared the Virat Kohli-led Indian side to the dominant West Indies team of the 1970s, saying most opponents are worried about facing the 'Men in Blue'.
Srikkanth made the comments following India's crushing 89-run win over Pakistan on Sunday. "This is starting to feel a little like the West Indian teams of the 1970s, where the opposition would start the game with a psychological disadvantage. Teams are worried about facing India and how they will cope with them, which immediately puts them on the back foot," Srikkanth wrote in his column for the ICC.
India seem to be on a roll in the tournament having outplayed South Africa, Australia, and Pakistan. The game against the arch-rivals was also a test for K L Rahul, who himself said that he was nervous about opening the innings in an ODI as he had not done it for a while.
Playing in place of the injured Shikhar Dhawan, Rahul rose to the occasion with a solid half-century. Rohit Sharma made a match-winning 140 but Srikkanth felt Rahul's knock of 57 was more significant.
"Everyone knows how good a batsman Rohit Sharma is but for me, the more important innings against Pakistan was from KL Rahul. Going into the game, the biggest question mark about this India team was how they would cope without Shikhar Dhawan," he said.
"The fact the top three all got runs, that Sharma and Rahul put on more than a hundred for the first wicket and that Virat Kohli got more runs, is huge for India going forward in the tournament," he added.
Another positive for India was Kuldeep Yadav being back to his best, taking the important wickets of Fakhar Zaman and Babar Azam. "Prior to this game, the one bowler who had been a little bit of a concern was Kuldeep Yadav, who didn't seem to have found his form. However he was brilliant in this game, particularly the dismissal of Babar Azam which was a sensational delivery," he said.
"That leaves India with Jasprit Bumrah, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Yuzvendra Chahal and Kuldeep all bowling well, what more can they ask for? It is a little like England, at the moment everything seems to be going right and the fans should be very happy," he added.
Srikkanth said that Pakistan erred in opting to field and seemed a team which was struggling to cope with pressure. "It felt like there was more pressure on Pakistan, who had built this up to be a huge game, whereas India and Rohit, in particular, were able to treat it like any other match. That is vital in a World Cup. You cannot put too much pressure on yourself because of who the opposition is."
"The one slight worry was Bhuvneshwar's injury but they have six days before the next game against Afghanistan so that will give him the chance to get back fit again. In that moment it was obviously a blow for India, but in some ways, it worked out well for them because it meant we got more of a look at Vijay Shankar and he did well," added Srikkanth.
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