After just one match in the ICC T20 World Cup 2021, Team India already face a must-win situation in the tournament, in their next match. Such are the fine margins and competition level in a group that is not as competitive overall as the other group in the Super 12.
Pakistan’s win over New Zealand on Tuesday puts them in a commanding position to not just go through from this group, but also top it before the semi-finals. With the other 3 teams being Afghanistan, Scotland, and Namibia, the matches India-Pakistan-New Zealand played among themselves were always going to have an extra element of intrigue and importance.
Pakistan’s win over New Zealand also makes the India-New Zealand clash all the more crucial now. That brings us to a question which is on many minds – Which players can make the difference for India against New Zealand?
Bumrah’s importance, not just in this game, but for India’s T20 World Cup 2021 campaign itself cannot be stressed enough. But talking about Sunday’s match vs NZ, Bumrah will again need to be among the wickets. He is India’s leading wicket-taker vs NZ in this format, with 10 wickets at an average of 21.30. More importantly, he has done so at a healthy economy rate of just 6.26.
Bumrah will come into the game at the start of the innings and certainly at the death. And if India is defending a score again with the dew in Dubai, Bumrah will need to be the game-changer again.
This pick can come off as a surprise, given the fact that Thakur wasn’t even in India’s XI in the opening match vs Pakistan. However, there is a lot that favors Thakur’s selection in the match vs NZ.
His recent form and numbers speak for themselves. Thakur has the knack of picking up the crucial wickets, while also having the ability to get some runs at a solid strike rate. Moreover, Thakur has 8 wickets in just 5 T20Is so far against the Kiwis, at a miserly average of 19.62.
We’ve seen enough instances over the years of a player continuing his run of good performances against a particular opponent. And an in-form Thakur can do more than that if given the chance.
Virat Kohli’s numbers against New Zealand in T20Is, despite being good, are not up to the standards that Kohli has set for himself. However, the captain will still be central to India’s innings throughout the rest of the tournament.
When he has started a major tournament well, in the past, he has gone on to carry that form through more often than not. And Kohli’s half-century vs PAK that bailed the team out of trouble should just provide the required impetus to him.
Imagining Rohit Sharma playing the new ball against the likes of Trent Boult, particularly after the dismissal against Shaheen Afridi, might give rise to some nerves. However, Rohit understands Boult and the NZ bowlers better than most others and his T20I record against them also justifies that.
With 4 half-centuries in 13 T20 innings, Rohit is India’s leading scorer against New Zealand – 338 runs at a strike rate of almost 138.
Be it any opponent, India’s vice-captain can and does create big damage to bowling attacks once he gets set.
India’s no. 4 is yet to play New Zealand in a T20I and is also not an unknown quantity for most of the current NZ bowlers. But Suryakumar is not someone who plays the opponent, but plays the situation and does it in his free-flowing and fearless style.
There have been high expectations from this batsman this season and given the batting position he holds, an on-song Suryakumar can take the game away from any team. He will be keen to live up to those expectations, against New Zealand.
Despite the big loss to Pakistan, India remain one of the favorites in this T20 World Cup. And they will need to show that form of favorites in the match that could very well decide the fate of this group. Tune in to India vs NZ – Sunday, October 31st, at 7.30 pm!
READ MORE – Beginner’s Guide to CricStox