India went into their opening T20 World Cup game as favourites against Pakistan and walked away humbled by 10 wickets in Dubai last Sunday.
By now they have had a week to lick their wounds and get a good rest after a long slog in the IPL. They also — vitally — have had a chance to reflect on the mistakes they made in their first T20 World Cup game before a crucial clash with their bogey team New Zealand at the Dubai Stadium on Sunday.
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New Zealand have won nine of their 12 ICC matches against India, most recently a victory in the World Test Championship final — and also in the 2019 World Cup semi-final. The Kiwis have never lost to India in the two games they have played before in the T20 World Cup and have always found ways to get past India, who — once again — look the better team on paper.
New Zealand also lost their first game to Pakistan and they and India will regard this as a must-win match and claim the crucial two points that could help them to the semi-finals.
The good news for India is that Hardik Pandya may bowl if require, which would be an added bonus as it would add extra depth to their bowling which looked toothless against Pakistan. India may think of getting in Shardul Thakur for Bhuvneshwar Kumar, who is missing the form he had in the IPL.
The toss plays a very crucial role in these matches, especially in Dubai, and if India lose the toss, it will test the Indian openers who were out cheaply in the first game. Both Rohit Sharma and KL Rahul would like to set the tone for the rest of the batters to follow and put a total which their bowlers could defend.
Pakistan look all set to top the group and it would be fight between India, New Zealand and Afghanistan to grab the second spot in the group and this game will give us a an idea who that will be.
This is Virat Kohli’s last tenure as T20 captain for India and he would like to sign off with a win in an ICC event which has been eluding him since the 2017 Champions Trophy. But can he get past the bogey team New Zealand? That is the big question.