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Rohit Sharma explains bizarre decision to have him and Virat Kohli bowl – and why it paid off

Captain Rohit Sharma has revealed why Team India used nine bowlers during their ICC Cricket World Cup 2023 match against the Netherlands.

India experimented in the match on Sunday to test their part-time bowlers ahead of the side’s upcoming World Cup semi-final against New Zealand on Wednesday.

Sharma said the part-time bowlers were used to identify a suitable sixth bowler option as India looks to reverse heartbreaking memories of the 2019 Cricket World Cup where they were routed by the Black Caps in that tournament’s semi-final.

India could afford to experiment in their match against the Netherlands as they had already qualified for the semi-final.

Apart from their regular five bowlers, Indian batsmen Shubman Gill and Suryakumar Yadav were brought in to bowl.

Sharma and star batter Virat Kohli were also brought into the pitch and picked up a wicket each.

“Today we had nine (bowling) options, it’s important, this was the game where we could have tried certain things,” Sharma said after India’s 160-run win against the Dutch.

“The seamers bowling those wide yorkers when it was not needed, but we wanted to do that. As a bowling unit, we wanted to try doing something different and see what we can achieve,” he said.

Kohli, known as the “wrong-footed in-swinging menace” by coach Rahul Dravid, bowled a full over in the One-Day International (ODI) and also picked up a wicket for the first time in six years. The Delhi cricketer bagged the wicket of Netherlands captain Scott Edwards and finished with a three-over spell of 1 for 13.

Gill, bowling off-spin, conceded 11 runs in two overs, while Yadav, who has 36 wickets in the domestic circuit, bowled for the first time in international cricket.

He conceded 17 runs in two overs.

Sharma wrapped up the game with his first ODI wicket in 11 years after dismissing the Dutch side’s middle-order batter Teja Nidamanuru.

Hardik Pandya’s injury affected the balance in the hosts’ side.

With the all-rounder ruled out of the World Cup, India did not have a similar replacement, leading them to execute a different plan.

Yadav was brought in as a specialist batting option at No 6, while Shardul Thakur was replaced by Mohammed Shami as a specialist fast-bowling option.

India will enter the semi-final encounter with the Black Caps by being the only unbeaten side in the World Cup. New Zealand, on the other hand, just about made it to the knockout stage with 10 points, two more than Pakistan that came in fifth.


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