Group 2 in the ongoing Super-12 stage of the T20 World Cup 2021 has two mighty teams India and New Zealand, a couple of experiences in Afghanistan and Pakistan, and two debutants Namibia and Scotland. But surprising everyone, Pakistan emerged as the strongest and most likely first contender among the six teams to book a seat for the semifinals. (More Cricket News)
After Pakistan defeated Afghanistan in a close and sensational finish on Friday, it is now clear India must beat New Zealand to stay in the hunt for the second semifinal spot in the group because this Babar Azam-led Pakistani side is looking strong and unlikely to mess up in their remaining group matches.
After hammering India by 10 wickets, Pakistan defeated New Zealand in their second game. The men in green sit on the top of the table with a hattrick of wins and a solid net run rate of +0.638. Afghanistan, another dark horse, are in second spot and have an astounding net run rate of +3.092. Namibia have a 0.550 net run rate after their one game.
Meanwhile, the two mighty teams India and New Zealand have found themselves in a quarterfinals-like situation as both are yet to open their accounts and apparently have a negative net run rate of -0.973 and -0.532, respectively.
The clash between India vs New Zealand at Dubai International Cricket Stadium on October 31 will see one of them left potentially out of the tournament.
The T20 World Cup 2021 happens to be India skipper Virat Kohli’s last assignment as the T20 captain. Here are the three things the Indian cricket team needs to do to save its ship from drowning.
1. Add Shardul Thakur in place of Bhuvneshwar Kumar
India went with the experience of Bhuvneshwar in the match against Pakistan. However, it brought no good to the team. He was hit for a four and a six in the first over of the chase. The selection of reputation over current form helped Pakistan openers to settle in the powerplay overs. Apart from the veteran fast bowler’s own line and length, the pitch gave no support to Bhuvneshwar Kumar as there was an absence of swing in the second innings of the match. Although Bhuvneshwar can move the ball, he has not been effective in the white-ball format off late.
On the other hand, Shardul Thakur, an all-rounder, comes with the ability to strike especially in the middle overs thanks to his cross-seam bowling and change of pace which helped Chennai Super Kings (CSK) immensely in the recently concluded IPL in UAE. With the batting woes of Hardik Pandya, Shardul Thakur makes a strong case for himself as he can make the scoreboard ticking in the death overs too.
2. Selection of Hardik Pandya
Hardik Pandya is undoubtedly one of the best finishers in the world, especially in the shortest format of the game. Regardless of the noteworthy praise he has garnered over the years, the Indian all-rounder has been struggling for over a month, including in the second leg of the IPL in the UAE. The management still put its faith and played him as a specialist batter against Pakistan as he was not bowling. This move backfired India as it cut the option of having a sixth bowler in the line-up. It has been learned that Hardik Pandya has started to bowl but how effective he would be is yet to be seen.
Even if he can bowl, Pandya's silent bat is making the cricket pundits noisy. Hardik Pandya cannot be overlooked but when it comes to having depth in the lower middle order, it would be ideal to have someone like Ishan Kishan, who is in the form of his life but not being able to break into the playing XI as the top two slots have been given to Rohit Sharma and KL Rahul by captain Kohli.
3. Dew factor
With three grounds in Dubai, Abu Dhabi, and Sharjah having a dew factor in the second half of the innings, it is the toss that is dictating the results. The latest was during the fixture between New Zealand and Pakistan. New Zealand came close to a win but the tables turned in favour of Pakistan with the sticky surfaces aiding the batsmen. During Pakistan’s batting innings against India, the dew factor played a major role.
The Indian seamers Jasprit Bumrah and Mohammad Shami struggled with their line and length and delivered short and loose balls to Pakistan’s advantage. Although winning the toss is a by chance thing, what India can really do is take a leaf out of Shaheen Shah Afridi’s magical spells. If India again find themselves defending a total then it is for Bumrah and Shami to nail the perfect yorkers against New Zealand.