“India is like that runaway train that has its brakes failed…”: Wasim Akram On India’s Stellar Performance Against New Zealand In ODI World Cup 2023

India’s World Cup campaign has been nothing short of spectacular. Coming into the match against New Zealand, they had steamrolled every opponent in their path. Despite the high expectations, the Kiwis were determined to put up a strong challenge. As the match unfolded, India found themselves under pressure at various points, but in the end, it was Rohit Sharma’s men who stood victorious, winning with two overs to spare.

Former Pakistan captain Wasim Akram provided a captivating analogy for India’s performance. He described them as a “runaway train” in the tournament, a force of nature that seems unstoppable. Akram emphasized that India possesses the essential ingredients for success, from weapons and merit to skill and the ability to execute their game plans with precision.

Despite their unbeaten run, India faced a significant hurdle in the form of a key player’s injury. Hardik Pandya, the fast-bowling all-rounder, was ruled out of the tournament. In response, India brought in pacer Mohammed Shami and batter Suryakumar Yadav as cover, resulting in the exclusion of their only other pace all-rounder, Shardul Thakur.

The introduction of Mohammed Shami showcased the depth and adaptability of India’s squad. He made an immediate impact, taking a wicket with his very first ball. Although India felt the absence of a sixth bowling option during a crucial partnership between Rachin Ravindra and Daryl Mitchell, Shami’s brilliance shone through. In the final 10 overs, he led a remarkable recovery, taking four wickets and completing a five-wicket haul in his first match of the tournament. This extraordinary performance restricted New Zealand to 273 runs.

Wasim Akram applauded India’s squad management and their ability to adapt to changing circumstances. He pointed out that teams like India and New Zealand possess the flexibility to accommodate changes based on player form, opposition, or pitch conditions. In this case, India’s decision to introduce Shami was a game-changing move.

“India is like that runaway train that has its brakes failed. They are going that way. They have the weapons, have the merit, the skills, and most importantly, they know how to execute their plans,” said Akram on A Sports.

During the chase, India found themselves in a precarious situation, with wickets falling at regular intervals. It was here that Virat Kohli, the maestro, showcased his mastery. He not only anchored the innings but also had the opportunity to chase a personal milestone, equalling Sachin Tendulkar’s record for the most centuries in ODIs. However, destiny had other plans, as Kohli fell just short of his century, ending his innings at 95. Despite this, India secured a well-deserved victory, winning by four wickets.

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“They did one change according to the situation. Squads should be such, like India and New Zealand’s, that if anybody is injured or out of touch or you want to play someone according to opposition or pitch (then you have such resources available). Like India played Shami, Hardik was injured, they dropped Shardul (Thakur), and SKY (Suryakumar Yadav) was brought in as a new batter. Then Shami got a wicket off the first ball of his spell,” said Akram.

Wasim Akram couldn’t help but be impressed by India’s chase. He described it as a “zabardast chase,” signifying a phenomenal effort. India’s ability to remain smooth and in control, even in the face of adversity, is a testament to their strength and composure.

“Kya zabardast chase ki hai (what a phenomenal chase). No pressure. Wickets fell, but they looked smooth, looked in control. That’s a great sign for the Indian team and Indian cricket,” Wasim said.

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