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New Zealand survive Scotland scare, India finally arrive

Thursday 4 November 2021 | Written by Rahul Patil | Published in Cricket, Sports

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New Zealand survive Scotland scare, India finally arrive
New Zealand's Daryl Mitchell, right, talks with teammate Martin Guptill during the Cricket Twenty20 World Cup match between New Zealand and Scotland in Dubai, UAE, Wednesday, Nov. 3, 2021. (AP Photo/Kamran Jebreili)

New Zealand kept on track for a semifinal spot by surviving a scare from Scotland and India finally opened their account with a big win over the dangerous Afghanistan on Day 12 of the T20 World Cup.

Game 20

New Zealand 172 for 5 (Guptill 93, Watt 1/13, Sharif 2/28) beat Scotland 156 for 5 (Leask 42*, Southee 1/24) by 16 runs.

A one man show by opener Martin Guptill ensured that New Zealand won their match against Scotland and kept their semifinal hopes alive. Guptill is one of the finest stroke makers in white ball cricket. It’s a mystery as to how a batter with such clean hitting skills does not get picked to play more franchise cricket around the world. His exploits at the top of the order sometimes go unnoticed due to the presence of a certain Kane Williamson but on his day, he can destroy any bowling attack in the world and win games singlehandedly.

Yesterday was one such day. Put into bat by Scotland after losing the toss, New Zealand at one stage were in trouble at 52 for 3. Then Guptill found a reliable ally in Glen Phillips and the pair put on 105 runs in just 73 balls. Guptill’s man of the match innings of 93 included 6 fours and 7 monstrous sixes including his trade mark no look slog sweep which went 102 metres long. New Zealand ended with 172 for 5 of their 20 overs. For Scotland left arm spinner Mark Watt continued his good form with the ball giving away just 13 runs in his 4 overs and picking up the crucial wicket of southpaw Devon Conway.

Scotland started the run chase in an aggressive manner and at one stage they were 60 for 1 after 6.2 overs. They were steady through the middle and a late flourish by all-rounder Michael Leask (42 runs from just 20 balls) kept them in the hunt until the last over of the game. Although they did not manage to win, Scotland can be proud of their efforts in this game and try to build on it in their remaining games. For New Zealand Boult, Southee and Santner were economical but Adam Milne and last match hero Ish Sodhi were taken to the cleaners by the Scottish batters. With two wins from three games New Zealand are on track to qualify in second place from Group 2 behind Pakistan but it’s the end of the road for Scotland who have so far lost all three of their games.

Game 21

India 210 for 2 (Rohit Sharma 74, KL Rahul 69, Janat 1/7) beat Afghanistan 144 for 7 (Janat 42*, Ashwin 2/14, Jadeja 1/19, Shami 3/32) by 66 runs.

There is a reason why all the cricketing pundits around the world picked India as their favourites to win the T20 World Cup. India have been playing good white ball cricket for a long time, all the Indian players were involved in the IPL just before the start of the T20 World Cup in the UAE and they have superstars in both their batting and bowling departments to cover all bases and counter any situations. India’s mediocre start to the tournament was therefore extremely surprising. But with yesterday’s performance against Afghanistan, they have well and truly arrived although time will tell if they have arrived a bit too late.

Virat Kohli has an extremely poor record when it comes to winning tosses in T20 Internationals. In 46 matches as captain, he has only won 18 tosses and lost 28. In conditions where dew arrives on the field in the evenings winning tosses becomes crucial. But yesterday his batters made sure that losing the toss didn’t come in the way of India winning the game.

Both openers Rohit Sharma and KL Rahul looked in ominous touch and carted the Afghanistan bowlers all over the park from the get go. They put on 140 for the 1st wicket in just over 14 overs making merry in the best batting conditions of the tournament. Rohit Sharma in full flow is a sight to behold for all cricket lovers. His man of the match performance of 74 was studded with 8 fours and 3 sixes. Sharma was ably supported by the classy KL Rahul with 69. In the recently concluded IPL, Rahul scored 626 runs and it was only a matter of time before he produced an innings of substance in the World Cup. Once the openers departed Rishabh Pant and Hardik Pandya put the icing on the cake for India by sharing an unbeaten partnership of 63 in just 21 balls. India finished on a tournament high of 210 in their 20 overs.

With an asking rate of 10.5 runs per over Afghanistan had an uphill task in front of them. And the tight bowling by all the Indian bowlers made their task even harder. Losing wickets at regular intervals, they never looked to be in the game at any stage. For India off spinner Ravi Ashwin bowled beautifully picking up 2 wickets for 14 runs of his 4 overs. Ashwin last played a T20 international for India in August 2017 so it’s a feel good comeback story for him for sure. Ashwin was well supported by left arm spinner Jadeja and quicks Shami and Bumrah. For Afghanistan, Karim Janat top scored with a breezy 42 of 22 balls but it was too little too late and Afghanistan finished with 144 for 7. The 66 run margin made a huge impact on India’s net run rate. For India to qualify for the semifinals, they have to win both their remaining matches against Scotland and Namibia by big margins and hope that either Afghanistan or Namibia can upset New Zealand in their group.