Dubai: In a match where Net Run Rate was the name of the game, India did not put a foot wrong against Scotland in an inequal match-up in the evening Super-12 clash of the day at the Dubai International Cricket Stadium today.
Stung by two reverses against Pakistan and New Zealand in their first two games, India had been living on the edge for a while. They have come back well to inflict two defeats to Afghanistan and then against the inexperienced qualifiers today and a successful chase of the paltry target inside seven overs meant that the Men in Blue have now taken their NRR ( + 1.61) over Afghanistan ( + 1.48) and New Zealand (1.27), the two other teams in the running to become the second team to qualify for semi-finals from Group B.
The bigger picture, however, stays the same for India. They are still in third position in their group after four games with Pakistan as leaders and New Zealand second after the Kiwis notched their third win in four games this afternoon. The game they will now be keeping an eye on is the Afghanistan-New Zealand one in Abu Dhabi on Sunday – where only an unlikely win for Mohammed Nabi’s men may open the doors for India again.
Back to the one-sided contest against Scotland, India did a logical thing by bringing in a third spinner in Varun Chakravarthy in place of Shardul Thakur. The thinking was possibly that the inexperienced Scotland batting will find the going tough against the spin trio of Ravi Ashwin, Ravindra Jadeja and Chakravarthy – and things panned out a lot that way.
Jadeja broke the back of the Scotland middle order with figures of 4-0-15-3, but to be honest, the Scotland batting had nothing much to offer against such quality bowling except a few cameos from the gutsy George Munsey and Mitchell Leask. His dismissal of Richie Berrington will possibly give the Indian allrounder most satisfaction as it was a classical left-arm spinner’s delivery – pitching on middle and off and turning away to nip back the Scotsman’s offstump.
A total of 86 to get and with the dew settling in, it was always on the cards that the Scotland bowling would be easy fodder for the powerful Indian batting line-up. It was good to see them sticking to Rohit Sharma and KL Rahul as openers in chase of what could be called a banana skin target and they did not disappoint.
The seam-up bowling of Brad Wheal was just up Rohit’s street as the Hitman switched into top gear straightaway – using his pace for a four first over long on and then a clip off the legs. They were 22/0 after two overs and the die was soon cast.
Rahul, meanwhile, looked to be continuing in the mode where he had left off on these very venues in the IPL. With the wicket easing out further as the match wore on, he was a delight to watch and reached the 50-mark in 18 balls – the fastest in the tournament.
Speaking after the match, birthday boy Virat Kohli was candid enough to admit that the first two losses had really hurt them and their fate in the tournament now hinged on the Afghanistan-New Zealand contest. A billion fans will also be looking at the fate of the match with same level of anticipation!