India will attempt to regain the initiative in Group 2 of the Super 12 at the 2021 ICC T20 Men’s World Cup when the Men in Blue face New Zealand on Sunday. Virat Kohli’s team lost to bitter rivals Pakistan last time out, but India’s lineup is still loaded with some of the elite names in the sport, including Rohit Sharma.
As for New Zealand, the Black Caps also slipped up against Pakistan, losing by five wickets on Tuesday. Kane Williamson needs to rally a group defined by the skills of Martin Guptill and Trent Boult, both of whom need to be on song at the Dubai International Cricket Stadium.
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India vs New Zealand Preview
India were overwhelmed during a 10-wicket defeat to Pakistan. Kohli’s usually ruthless bowling attack collapsed, allowing openers Babar Azam and Mohammad Rizwan to put an unbeaten 152 runs on the board. Avoiding a repeat of that failure will require faltering big names rediscovering some swagger. Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Jasprit Bumrah are the main figures searching for form.
Kumar can generate decent pace with the ball, but the 31-year-old hasn’t lived up to expectations. The Sunrisers Hyderabad star has been identified by former India international Dilip Doshi as one who has to do more. Doshi told CricTracker: “It’s true that some people are playing based on their past reputation. Players like Hardik Pandya and Bhuvneshwar Kumar haven’t performed to their full potential for some time now.”
While Kumar has been a disappointment, Bumrah has also failed to bring his right arm to bear. He’s a true pacer who has struggled on the sluggish wickets in Dubai, but Bumrah has the talent to be a difference-maker this time. Kohli could also use a spinner to chuck a different challenge at the New Zealand order, so Varun Chakravarthy needs to turn up, particularly in the powerplay.
The Kiwis possess the armoury to punish India’s bowlers if the attack falters again. Guptill will lead the way as a dynamic opener who can play the full range of shots and collect fours in bunches. Unfortunately for New Zealand, there was precious little of Guptill’s brilliance on display against Pakistan, when he was bowled by Haris Rauf after collecting just 17 from 20.
If Guptill gets back on track, he’ll give Williamson a platform to build on from the crucial third spot. The skipper is never afraid to swing for the stands, but Williamson will hope he has the luxury of playing a controlled game to supplement a healthy tally set by his openers.
Williamson will also be eager for somebody in his bowling attack to be the hero after the group surrendered key runs against Pakistan. Asif Ali managed to plunder 27 to swing the match away from New Zealand. Avoiding a repeat will only be possible if Boult delivers. The lefty pacer can thrive in this format and is the key to the Black Caps putting a dent in a potentially prolific India order headlined by Sharma.
Having been bowled lbw for a duck by Shaheen Afridi against Pakistan, Sharma has enough incentive to get back to his best. So does fellow opener KL Rahul, after a miserable three off eight from his first outing. At least Kohli is still reliable from the crease, proved by his 57 from 49 in India’s last game, a worthy knock that deserved more support.
India’s talent won’t be kept quiet for long, even though New Zealand own a healthy contingent of match-winners. Both nations are desperate to keep semi-final hopes alive, but India should edge a tight affair.