The format of the ICC Men’s T20 World Cup Super 12 league, featuring six teams in two groups, is such that even one defeat after two victories puts a team in a spot of bother as India have found out.
India tasted their first defeat in the tournament against South Africa at Perth after recording successive victories over arch rivals Pakistan at the Melbourne Cricket Ground and the Netherlands at the Sydney Cricket Ground respectively.
That defeat on a bouncy Perth pitch against South Africa last Sunday has created a situation which calls for Rohit Sharma and his team in blue to win their next four games in a row to clinch the crown, team’s head coach Rahul Dravid acknowledged here today ahead of tomorrow’s round robin clash here at the Adelaide Oval against Bangladesh.
“We will have to play well to win, no question about it. We started well. A little bit of a disappointing game at Perth. We fought really well and hard. We made a few mistakes as well. A little bit of luck here and there, that could have been a slightly different result,” said the former India skipper said at the pre match press conference today.
“Having said that, the Pakistan game could have gone the other way as well. These things happen in Twenty20 cricket. We know we have to play very well if we have to win. It’s really a question of winning the next four games, really. You have to win the next four games to be able to win this tournament,” he pointed out
After the Bangladesh match India are slated to finish their group 2 league engagements with a clash against Zimbabwe at the Melbourne Cricket Ground on November 6.
And then come the semi-finals and the final, making it two wins to qualify for the last four and then two more victories to clinch the coveted crown.
The two semi-finals are slated to be held at the Sydney Cricket Ground on November 9 and here at the Adelaide Oval on November 10.
If hosts Australia qualify for the last four they will play their semi-final at the SCG. The other semi- final will be held here. The final is slated to be held at the MCG on November 13.
Presently in Group 2, South Africa are leading the table with 5 points from three matches while India and Bangladesh both have 4 points to their credit. Rohit Sharma and his men are placed higher in second place on account of their better net run rate of plus 8.444 as compared to Bangladesh’s minus 1.533.
India have a good record against Bangladesh, with ten victories in eleven T20 ties.
Today it rained here in the morning, with even hail stones falling at one time, and the sun played hide and seek constantly. The authorities and followers are hoping for a rain-free day tomorrow when two matches are scheduled to be played here. Weather forecast is for a day free from rains.
After the defeat to South Africa, India are set to tweak their playing eleven a bit. There is a good chance of Rishabh Pant replacing Dinesh Karthik behind the stumps, especially after the latter went off the field in the later stages of the Perth game due to back spasms, leaving the wicket keeping job to substitute Pant.
Dravid said Karthik has recovered from the back spasm and he is training today with the team. “He has pulled up pretty well today. He’s come to training. So we’ll be assessing it. We’ll see how it goes, and we’ll see how he pulls up tomorrow morning after a good practice session today,” informed Dravid.
But the fact is that the 37-year-old has hardly done anything worthwhile in the three games he has played, due to a combination of lack of opportunities and some poor shots, leaving speculation open whether Pant, the attacking left handed batsman and a much younger player at 25, will take his place behind the stumps tomorrow.
Dravid more or less ruled out the dropping of out-of-form opener and team vice-captain K L Rahul from the crucial tie against Bangladesh.
“He is a fantastic player with a proven track record. I thought he has been batting superbly. These things happen in a Twenty20 game. It’s not been that easy for the top order batsmen in this tournament. Conditions have been pretty challenging,” said Dravid to a query on Rahul’s poor run with the bat in the three games in which he has scored 4, 9 and 9 in that order.
“He has been superb in the practice games against Australia. It was a pretty good attack with Mitchell Starc and Patric Cummins. He got a 50 or 60. He is well suited for these kinds of conditions, these kinds of pitches. He has got a good all round game. He has got a good back-foot game which is required in these conditions. We are confident and happy at the way he has been hitting it,” Rahul commented further.
Deepak Hooda was preferred to Axar Patel, who played in the first two matches, against South Africa, but was out for a duck after facing 3 balls against South Africa. Axar is thus expected to regain his place.
However, there is a question mark over Ravichandran Ashwin’s spot in the eleven after he conceded 43 runs in 4 overs against South Africa. Although he could have got the wicket of Markram had Virat Kohli not dropped a simple catch in the deep, Ashwin was punished by left handed David Miller who struck him for two successive sixes with ease.
Would the team bring into the eleven the third spinner in the squad, leg spinner Yuzvendra Chahal who did not play in the first three matches, will be interesting to see.