Saturday, 22 January, 2022

India face NZ in ‘virtual quarter-final’

Afghanistan seek return to winning ways

Virat Kohli will be facing the most defining test of his captaincy career as he expects his men to be the proverbial "phoenix rising from the ashes" when India take on a street-smart New Zealand in a ‘do-or-die’ ICC T20 World Cup Super 12 game at Dubai International Cricket Stadium today, report agencies.

Having endured a nightmare last Sunday against Pakistan, a match that they would like to forget in a hurry, India have a lot of course correction to do against the Kiwis, more so in getting the roles assigned for the players right.

It won’t be easy against a quality New Zealand, which will come hard at India having also lost to Pakistan in their opening game. Tim Southee and Trent Boult, especially have been a nemesis for the Indians in big games.

However, their soft underbelly is batting where Kane Williamson is still not hundred per cent and Martin Guptill also had a foot injury. It's effective without being flamboyant, although, Devon Conway is a flashy batter.

And herein lies India's chance but for that, their bowlers need to implement the game plans perfectly, something they couldn't against Pakistan.

With Pakistan already on six points having played all their tough games (India, New Zealand and Afghanistan) in the first week of Super 12s, they are expected to steamroll Namibia and Scotland en route their expected top place finish in group 2.

A total of 16 T20I matches have been played between the teams so far, out of which New Zealand have won eight matches. India have won six matches, while two matches were tied. This leaves both India and New Zealand in a virtual shoot-out position as whoever wins has a chance to finish on maximum eight points and grab the second place in the group.

However, with the dew playing a major role in the evenings, toss is indeed playing a very crucial role in the outcome of night matches. Kohli will be hoping to at least win the toss and may be ensure that KL Rahul and Co don't have to face Trent Boult's 'break back' swingers first up when some moisture would be on offer.

After what Shaheen Shah Afridi did to India, India would certainly be wary of Boult, who is a more skilful operator than the Pakistani, albeit at lesser pace.

In a nutshell, Kohli faces an acid test of his leadership career, which is reaching business end.

In the day’s first match, Afghanistan and Namibia are set to lock horns of the T20 World Cup at Sheikh Zayed Stadium in Abu Dhabi. Although they lost their previous game to Pakistan on October 29, the Afghans can be said to be in pretty good form in the mega event.

Mohammad Nabi and Co gave the Men in Green a run for their money before Asif Ali’s six-hitting spree took them down. Namibia, on the other hand, are on a three-match winning streak in the tournament. In their previous match, they defeated Scotland by four wickets in Abu Dhabi itself.