ICC T20 World Cup 2022, IND vs ZIM: Rohit Sharma and co desperate for triumph to seal semis berth
India will be locking horns against Zimbabwe in Saturday's final Super 12 clash of the ICC T20 World Cup 2022 in Melbourne. The former would be desperate for a victory to seal its place in the semis.
By Kushan Sarkar
Skipper Rohit Sharma will look to feast on a Zimbabwe bowling attack in his bid to play an innings that is long overdue in a must-win game of the 2022 ICC T20 World Cup at the Melbourne Cricket Ground (MCG) on Sunday. With Virat Kohli in imperious form and other top-order batters such as KL Rahul and Suryakumar Yadav playing impactful knocks each, the Indian captain is in line to play one of his little gems on a ground where he has scored multiple white ball hundreds. Rohit has played some excellent shots but saved the game against the Netherlands. He has yet to fire much in other games. He is too good a player not to get those booming sixes going his way.
Exactly two weeks back, the MCG witnessed an epic Indo-Pak clash and an innings of a lifetime from Kohli, but the match against Zimbabwe is no less important as a victory will clear the pathway to the last four stages. In that context, the battle against Zimbabwe is a must-win game for the Indian team, which is runaway favourites to pummel Regis Chakabva's side, whose campaign started in style but tapered off towards the end.
Zimbabwe's batting hasn't precisely fired, and against the current Indian attack, it would be difficult for them to put up a stellar show as Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Arshdeep Singh, and Mohammed Shami have been on the money. The only man in the Indian bowling attack who would expect to put up a better show than he has done so far is veteran off-spinner Ravichandran Ashwin. He has been steady but not extraordinary.
A win will put India in the pole position of Group 2, but a loss might pave the way for arch-rival Pakistan, who will go through to the semi-finals if it beats Bangladesh in its last Super 12 contest with a better net run rate (NRR). South Africa, who are currently placed in the second position with five points, will also make it with a win against the Netherlands, but if they lose and Pakistan win, then the latter, along with India, will go through to the final four.
India will face England in the semi-finals if it finishes at the top. With England winning against Sri Lanka on Saturday, India will travel to Adelaide to meet Jos Buttler's men. While the Indian team has not tinkered much with the batting order, all-rounder Axar Patel was dropped against South Africa because of the multiple left-handed players in their line-up. With Craig Ervine, Sean Ervine, Ryan Burl and Sean Williams in the Zimbabwean batting line-up, there is a possibility that team management might once again use Deepak Hooda in the line-up like the Proteas game.
However, the biggest threat for India will be Pakistan-born all-rounder Sikandar Raza, who is in the midst of a dream 2022 season and would like to finish the tournament on a high. The other option will be to use Harshal Patel, the second seam bowling all-rounder, who can keep the solidity of the lower middle order.
Yuzvendra Chahal, a bowler of immense calibre, isn't being played because team management doesn't want the tail to be longer than it already is. But, considering that India, in all likelihood, could be facing England in the semi-final, Chahal could have been used as he has a good match-up record against the English batters.
Zimbabwe and India have never met in T20WCs, but a recent white-ball tour of the African nation has given the coaching staff enough data to figure out their strategy. Although it was an ODI tour and India's top Twenty20 players didn't figure in that series, the core of the Zimbabwe team is the same.
Had Zimbabwe won against the Netherlands, it could still have had an outside chance of remaining relevant in the competition. But Zimbabwe has done one thing in this T20WC: acting as party poopers for Pakistan, who are on the verge of elimination, with South Africa playing the Netherlands in their last game.
The average par score in this T20WC is in the 155 to 160 range, but India's batting order would like to put up an imposing display in case they bat first and reach near the 200-run mark. While India has won three matches out of four, Rohit and Rahul would like to give the team a power-packed start in the Powerplay overs, automatically providing them with an advantage going into the semi-final.
India: Rohit Sharma (c), KL Rahul (wk & vc), Virat Kohli, Suryakumar Yadav, Hardik Pandya, Dinesh Karthik (wk), Axar Patel, Ravichandran Ashwin, Mohammed Shami, Arshdeep Singh, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Rishabh Pant (wk), Deepak Hooda, Harshal Patel and Yuzvendra Chahal.
Zimbabwe: Regis Chakabva (c & wk), Sean Williams, Sean Ervine, Craig Ervine, Sikandar Raza, Tendai Chatara, Luke Jongwe, Brad Evans, Wesley Madhevere, Wellington Masakdazka, Tony Munyonga, Richard Ngarava, Blessing Muzarabani, Milton Shumba and Clive Madande (wk).
Date and day: November 6, 2022 (Sunday)
Venue: Melbourne Cricket Ground, Melbourne
Time: 1.30 PM (IST)
Where to watch (TV): Star Sports 1, Star Sports 1 Hindi & Sports Select (Also available in HD)
Where to watch (Online): Hotstar
(With inputs from PTI)