Jasprit Bumrah and Virat Kohli
India's Jasprit Bumrah (L) gestures as captain Virat Kohli watches during the ICC men’s Twenty20 World Cup cricket match against New Zealand at the Dubai International Cricket Stadium on October 31, 2021. Image Credit: AFP

Dubai: An allround performance by Team India on Wednesday evening has certainly brought about a change in mood among the legion of their fans - almost as a precursor to their Festival of Lights. Their fate in the tournament still hangs fire, but it has certainly increased the interest levels in their penultimate group match against Scotland on Friday evening.

The best that Virat Kohli’s men can do under the circumstances to turn up with an encore of their Afghanistan match in both their remaining matches - against qualifiers Scotland and Namibia with an eye on the run-rate - and this will require a tactful performance from the bowlers as well. While Kyle Coetzer’s men may lack the firepower to put it past a heavyweight like India, but their performance with the bat against the Kiwis showed on Wednesday that they have a few clean strikers of the ball in their ranks.

There were a number of remedeeming features about India logging their first points on the table against Afghanistan - the best part being that they fell back on a tested template and did not overthink about their gameplan. The wicket in Abu Dhabi looked one of the best ones to bat on so far and Rohit Sharma and KL Rahul were quick to pounce on it, showing the readiness to take on dangerman Rashid Khan early on to give the right signals.


Skipper Virat Kohli, who now seems more comfortable in rotating the strike and anchoring their innings, was justified in promoting two of the best available powerhitters in his team in Rishabh Pant and Hardik Pandya ahead of himself. Their cameos were extremely crucial in taking India over the 200-mark and help them live to fight for another day.

It was a pleasure to see Ravi Ashwin back in the blue colours after four years - and the pressure on him to be spot-on with the line of his attack need not be over-emphasised. India have been possibly the only top team who are yet to unleash a leg spinner (Rahul Chahar) so far in the tournament and under the circumstances, Ashwin’s experience and variety with his craft should be a regular feature in the coming matches.

Pandya, who bowled full steam in his two overs, was straight and this is another welcome augury for the Indian team. If they, however, survive in the tournament for the final week, then they may have to take a call on dropping Shardul Thakur - as both him and Pandya bring the same kind of skillsets on the table - for an additional spinner.

The Twenty20 is a funny format and as Scotland showed, a few good overs for the underdogs can be enough to bring the pressure back on the Indian team who are living on the edge. They appear to be a better batting side than Namibia with the skipper and the left-handed George Munsey two of their mainstays - while the likes of Matthew Cross and spinning allrounder George Leask unleashed some lusty hits against the highly rated Kiwi bowling.

Catch the match

India vs Scotland

Dubai International Stadium

Match starts at 6 pm.