Cricket World Cup 2023: Wasim Akram reveals which team can stop India

No other team in the history of the World Cup have dominated the league stage as ruthlessly as this Indian team

By Team KT

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Indian players greet each other at the end of their ICC Men's Cricket World Cup 2023 match against South Africa, at Eden Gardens in Kolkata, Sunday, Nov. 5, 2023. Photo: PTI
Indian players greet each other at the end of their ICC Men's Cricket World Cup 2023 match against South Africa, at Eden Gardens in Kolkata, Sunday, Nov. 5, 2023. Photo: PTI

Published: Mon 6 Nov 2023, 1:09 AM

Last updated: Mon 6 Nov 2023, 11:53 AM

A fantastic batting display on a difficult track and an outstanding performance from the bowlers took India a step closer to their third ICC World Cup title on Sunday.

An emphatic 243-run win over South Africa, who came into Sunday’s contest on the back of a magnificent run, proved that India are head and shoulders above the rest of the teams in the tournament.

Birthday boy Kohli’s 101 not out was the centrepiece of India’s 326-5 before their powerful attack cleaned up South Africa.

Together with Shreyas Iyer (77) Kohli shared a third-wicket partnership of 134 after India captain Rohit had won the toss.

India, fresh from dismissing Sri Lanka for just 55 during a 302-run rout of the 1996 champions, sparked another collapse as South Africa were dismissed for 83 with Ravindra Jadeja taking five wickets.

Sunday’s lop-sided encounter finished with India’s eight-straight win in the event.

No other team in the history of the World Cup have dominated the league stage as ruthlessly as this Indian team.

Once they complete the formalities against the Netherlands on November 12, Rohit Sharma’s men would hope to break their ICC knockout hoodoo.

India have not won an ICC event since their Champions Trophy win in 2013, with the team suffering heartbreaking semifinal defeats at the 2015 and 2019 ODI World Cups and the 2022 T20 World Cup.

They will not get a better chance to end that jinx and win their first major trophy since 2013.

Even without the injured Hardik Pandya, this team have what it takes to end this tournament with the trophy in their hands on November 19.

South Africa (12 points), who have also qualified for the semifinals, had a chance to challenge India's supremacy in the tournament on Sunday.

But the Proteas were blown away by all ruthless all-round brilliance of the home team.

It will take something special from any of the four other teams — Australia (10 points), New Zealand (8), Pakistan (8) and Afghanistan (8) — vying for the remaining two semifinal slots to challenge India.

But in a knockout game, anything can happen.

Even then Pakistan legend Wasim Akram believes this brilliant Indian team is unlikely to succumb to the pressure of a knockout match.

"I think only a Rest of the World team can be a fair battle with India," Akram told A Sports after India's thumping win over South Africa.

"Total domination (from India) in the World Cup. All three aspects of the game, batting, bowling, fielding, this team is in complete control.'

The former Pakistan captain then congratulated Kohli on his record-equalling hundred.

"It was a top performance from Kohli. It was not an easy pitch to bat on. Captain Rohit (Sharma) played an amazing knock, even though he scored 40. But the way he batted, it took the pressure off the batting unit," Akram said.

"Rohit is an unbelievable player. Then King Kohli came. The wicket had turn. But Kohli had other ideas."

Kohli, with 543 runs, is now second highest-scorer in the tournament behind South Africa's Quinton de Kock (550).

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