Hardik Pandya, India's, all-round option has been used more often than not to finish his quota of overs and seems to have earned the confidence of his team. © AFP


For the final two league games of World Cup 2019, India opted for changes in the playing eleven that also reflected as a marked change in strategy. Starting off the tournament and then going for the first seven games with the option of having six bowling options, they played Bangladesh and Sri Lanka with only five frontline options. The change happened after India's first loss of the tournament, against England in Birmingham.


"The only answer which I can say is that anyway the sixth bowler wasn't really bowling that many overs. So that is the reason wherein we are opting to play with this combination," explained Sanjay Bangar, India's batting coach, on Saturday (July 6), of the change in the thinking of the team management. In their first six games, the extra bowling option (Kedar Jadhav or Vijay Shankar) bowled a total of only 11.2 overs between them.


Hardik Pandya, India's, all-round option has been used more often than not to finish his quota of overs and seems to have earned the confidence of his team. "Even in the IPL he has worked a lot on his bowling. He's still working, trying to add new things. That's a positive sign for a bowler because he's open to new ideas, open to changes," says Jasprit Bumrah, while Virat Kohli reckons that Pandya thinks like a batsman even when he bowls.


Pandya, the batsman, too contributed to another change in bringing Dinesh Karthik into the eleven at the expense of Jadhav.


"What we thought was the number of overs that the sixth bowler was eventually bowling, and with we at times pushing Hardik up, so who was better suited at No. 7? Those were the questions that we discussed among us as a team management," said Bangar, before adding, "And because of that we went with a slightly different combination. But I feel that gives a lot of balance and a lot of strength."


Both strategies have their merits and demerits, with the former potentially weakening India's lower-order batting, and the latter running the risk of banking a little too heavily on their frontline bowlers. One bad spell could also turn a game decisively. But heading into the knockouts, India want to keep their options open.


Bangar remained non-committal if the five-bowler plan would be the way forward for India, which could also mean that there's room for only one of the two wristspinners in India's final eleven.


"That might change according to the conditions but as far as the selection for the last two games was concerned, that is what we discussed," said Bangar.