A defeat against Pakistan has left India and New Zealand with no other options than to win all their left-over games in the Super 12 round at the ongoing T20 World Cup. The contest will turn more intense when both sides will lock horns on Sunday in Dubai, aiming to register their first win in the tournament.
Prior to their respective campaign openers, both India and New Zealand looked extremely confident on paper. But when they took the field against the Men in Green, the odds went against them as they were completely outplayed. Though the Kiwi bowlers fought back a bit, especially the leg spinners, who managed to take a couple of Pakistan batters but for India, scalping a wicket turned out to be a distant dream.
Now the two wounded sides will lock horns in the battle of survival. For Virat Kohli & Co, the challenge gets tougher as they have never won a game against the Black Caps. Can they turn the fortunes on Sunday? – for that, we will have to wait and watch but before the all-important face-off, let’s have a look at 5 key battles that could be the decisive factor.
Rohit Sharma vs Trent Boult
Rohit’s struggle against a left-arm seamer was on display when Shaheen Shah Afridi took him down for a golden duck. The dismissal not only rocked a million fans but also left the Indian dugout stunned. And now comes another challenge when he faces his Mumbai Indians teammate Trent Boult who is one of the vital cogs in the Kiwi attack. The latter will surely ply his trade from over the wicket and it has to be seen whether it foxes the HITMAN or the latter gives it back in style.
Martin Guptill vs Jasprit Bumrah
Guptill is undoubtedly New Zealand’s go-to batter at the top of the order who has all kinds of shots in the book. On his day, he can take any bowler to the cleaners, no matter what the conditions are. But he has a weakness too and that is sheer pace. In the previous game, he had a tough time against Harris Rauf. And from the Indian dugout, it’s Jasprit Bumrah he should be wary of.
Unlike the previous fixture, if Kohli hands the new ball to this right arm quick, there are chances that New Zealand’s opening pair won’t last long.
Virat Kohli vs Ish Sodhi
When the other India batters failed to live up to the expectations, it was captain Virat Kohli who showcased an exemplary batting performance to repair the damage caused by Pakistan bowlers. But moving further, he faces a challenge in New Zealand’s Ish Sodhi.
The Kiwi leg spinner troubled the Pakistan batters the other day and now, he would be all prepared to spin a web around the India captain, like he did 5 years ago at the T20 World Cup 2016 game in Nagpur. It was an instance when the Kiwi spinners ran through India’s batting line-up and to avoid that horrific situation, Kohli needs to come up with another strong innings to put the team in a bigger picture.
Kane Williamson vs Ravindra Jadeja
Captain Kane is the epicentre of the entire New Zealand team. If he performs well, the team flourishes. Otherwise, it’s all opposite. It happened with the SRH in the IPL 2021 and then with New Zealand against Pakistan. Williamson is one of the finest strikers of the cricket ball but all he needs is to deal with the situation with patience.
India have Jadeja in their arsenal who can foil that concentration and force Mr Cool of the Kiwi side to commit an unwanted mistake. If the left-arm spinner succeeds in the task, India will surely have the upper hand in the game.
James Neesham vs Shardul Thakur
The battle between two fast-bowling all-rounders will be a treat to watch when India and New Zealand will square off on Sunday. Neesham has the capability of restricting the run flow with ball and can score some handy runs with the bat in hand. He wasn’t that effective against Pakistan a few days back but let’s not forget his performance in the 2019 World Cup, where he settled himself as a trusted player.
From the Indian dugout, Shardul is the perfect match who possesses similar qualities and has been in a decent form lately. He had a terrific stint with the Chennai Super Kings in the UAE leg of the IPL 2021 and if he gets a game, all eyes will be on him and his barrage of slower deliveries, especially in the death overs.