Bumrah, Pandya and Pant emerge as most valuable players as Super Eight clashes begin


Rishabh Pant plays a shot during the match against USA in New York (ANI)

India pacer Ishant Sharma believes that the best is yet to come from dynamic batter Rishabh Pant, who has shown his class on the tricky surface of New York

Our Bureau
New York, NY  

All gazing eyes now shift to the West Indies. The US leg of the T20 World Cup is over.

Now, India will be taking on Afghanistan in their first Super Eight clash on June 20 at Bridgetown. India ended unbeaten run in the group stage with wins over Ireland, Pakistan and the USA in low-scoring games, with their last game against Canada on June 15 having been washed out due to rain. Afghanistan are also undefeated yet.

As the world cup now enters the crucial stage, experts are pondering who are the most valuable players for Team India.

Former Indian spinner Harbhajan Singh has praised the performances of pacer Jasprit Bumrah, all-rounder Hardik Pandya and wicketkeeper-batter Rishabh Pant during the group stage of ICC T20 World Cup, placing them as the players to watch out for the Men in Blue who will start their Super Eights stage against Afghanistan from June 20.

Harbhajan said that the biggest positives during the India-Pakistan game in particular were Bumrah, Hardik and Pant putting their hands up with match-winning performances.

“The biggest positive is that when you are in trouble, how do you get out of it? One or the other player raised his hand and did his job that day. Jasprit Bumrah’s spell, Rizwan hit a bad shot and got out, after that the energy team showed up was commendable. All those who were asleep they woke up and pulled the match from that situation while defending a small score. It was not a common thing to win the match against Pakistan from their claws. The biggest positive is that Hardik Pandya took the wicket. He was the fourth bowler in this tournament. But if you look at his wicket tally, he has done much better than what was expected of him.”

He also said that Pant, who has scored 96 runs in three matches so far at an average of 48 and a strike rate of 125 on tough Nassau County pitches in New York, gave India a left-right combination batting at number three.

“Rishabh Pant played at number 3. His role was completely changed. Before this World Cup, we were saying that Sanju Samson will play in the team because he has made big runs. To make Rishabh Pant play at number 3 is a big positive. The left-right combination is formed when Rishabh Pant plays at number 3. There are a lot of positives,” said Harbhajan.

India pacer Ishant Sharma believes that the best is yet to come from dynamic batter Rishabh Pant, who has shown his class on the tricky surface of New York in the ongoing T20 World Cup. Pant returned to international cricket after sustaining injuries in a life-threatening accident in December 2022.

He brought his consistency to the ongoing T20 World Cup. It became evident in India’s campaign opener against Ireland when he effortlessly reversed scoop the length delivery to clear the fence over the head of the wicketkeeper.

He has amassed 96 runs at an average of 48.00 and a strike rate of 124.67 in three matches.

Before the beginning of the tournament, many former stars backed India to reach the semi-final. With their unbeaten start in the tournament, some fans believe that the Rohit Sharma-led side could go all the way to the final.

India had a lot of positive takeaways from their performances in the US. Skipper Rohit Sharma slammed a fifty, Suryakumar Yadav and Shivam Dube found their form while Arshdeep Singh stepped with the ball, especially in the powerplay.

Ishant feels that the bench strength that allows India to cover all fronts of the game sets them apart from the previous editions’ squad.

“What sets this Indian team apart from the previous editions is that this time, we have all bases covered with different players contributing in each game. In the first game, Rohit Sharma scored a half-century, Suryakumar Yadav regained his form against the USA with a scintillating 50, Arshdeep Singh also picked crucial four wickets and not forgetting Rishabh Pant, who is consistently scoring 30s and 40s. Different players contributing in different games provide stability and balance to the team. Moving ahead in the tournament, this will surely help them,” he added.

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