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India’s path to get more treacherous and long-winding after defeat in match with New Zealand

The two defeats – a 10-wicket beating at the hands of Pakistan and an eight-wicket thrashing at the hands of Kane Williamson’s New Zealand – have dropped India further farther down the Group 2 points table, below countries like Afghanistan and Namibia.

Ishwarnath Jha | New Delhi |

India’s second consecutive loss in the ICC T20 World Cup ‘Super 12’ game has shocked not only the Virat Kohli-led team but also the billion-plus die-hard fans at home, who were expecting a strong showing from the ‘Men in Blue’ after the players’ “thorough homework” in the Indian Premier League (IPL), which ended just two days before the global extravaganza began.

All these expectations to see India win the match against New Zealand went in disdain after our horrific eight-wicket loss to the ‘Black Hats’. Many cricket celebs all over India have expressed their view across various social media platforms. Cricket legend Virendra Sehwag on the micro-blogging site ‘Koo’ said, “Very disappointing from India. NZ was amazing. India’s body language wasn’t great, poor shot selection & like a few times in the past, New Zealand has virtually ensured we won’t make it to the next stage. This one will hurt India & time for some serious introspection”.

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Former Indian cricketer Syed Saba Karim even went forward and asked on the micro-blogging platform “If India has failed to keep pace with the changing trend of T20 cricket”??

The two defeats – a 10-wicket beating at the hands of Pakistan and an eight-wicket thrashing at the hands of Kane Williamson’s New Zealand – have dropped India further farther down the Group 2 points table, below countries like Afghanistan and Namibia.

At fifth position — behind Pakistan (6 points from three matches), Afghanistan (4 points from 3 games), New Zealand (2 points from 2 games) and Namibia (2 points from 2 games) — indicates the Virat Kohli-led India have hit the self-destruction button, and the 2007 T20 World champions are now at the mercy of other teams to make the grade.

Kohli’s side will now, most likely, need to win their three remaining fixtures — vs Afghanistan, Scotland and Namibia — while also hoping that other results and the net run rate equation goes their way.

“I don’t think we were bold enough with bat or ball,” skipper Kohli, who will step down as India’s T20 captain after the World Cup, said in the post-match press conference following India’s crushing loss to New Zealand. “We didn’t have much to defend,” Kohli continued, “but we weren’t fearless when we came out onto the field.”
“When you play for the Indian cricket team you have a lot of expectations — not just from fans, but players as well. So there’s always going to be more pressure with our games and we’ve embraced it over the years. Everyone who plays for India has to embrace it. And when you cope together as a team you overcome it and we haven’t done it these two games. Just because you’re the Indian team and there are expectations doesn’t mean you start playing differently.”

India’s dismal net run rate (NRR) of -1.609 means they’ll either have to finish points ahead of their opponents to qualify or hope for significant margins of victory in the later stages of the competition to reverse that NRR.

The problem for India is that Afghanistan, which has four points, thrashed Scotland by 130 runs, and it will take a tremendous charge from Kohli’s side to surpass their +3.097 NRR, which is now second best in the tournament behind England in Group 1.

India’s chances of making the last four will vanish if they lose against Afghanistan in Abu Dhabi on November 3. Afghanistan thrives on a spin. Ravi Shastri’s team will be aiming for not only a win but a big one in order to redress some of the group’s NRR imbalance. India would most likely hope for a close victory by Afghanistan over New Zealand to reduce the qualification to a net run rate.

One of the Group 2 qualifiers, Namibia or Scotland, pulling off an upset against New Zealand, is India’s greatest chance of making it out of the group. Both teams demonstrated their class in Round 1, but have yet to pose a threat to the Test-playing nations during the Super 12 stage.

(With IANS inputs)