CHENNAI: This has now come down to Afghanistan vs New Zealand. With their thumping eight wicket win with 81 balls remaining, India have overtaken Afghanistan on Net Run Rate (1.61 to 1.48) to be in third place in Group 2.
The only chance Virat Kohli & Co can advance is if New Zealand go down to Afghanistan. That will leave three teams level on six points, bringing the NRR into equation.
Should Afghanistan go on to beat the Kiwis on Sunday, India will know what exactly they have to do in their game against Namibia.
It looked dead and gone last Sunday but their big wins over Afghanistan and Scotland in space of three days has allowed them to keep their hopes together.
Even though they lost control of their destiny after that loss to New Zealand, they have pulled it back to keep the flame flickering.
If New Zealand beat Afghanistan on Sunday, then India’s match against Namibia a day later will become inconsequential.
Coming back to Dubai on Friday, India needed another big win to overhaul Afghanistan.
For that, the toss had to go their way and for the first time in the T20 World Cup, Kohli won the toss and chose to bowl first.
Whenever this team has been in trouble, it is the bowlers they have turned to. It is an area they choose to strengthen. And the story was no different under the Ring of Fire.
With Hardik Pandya beginning to bowl, India felt there was no need for Shardul Thakur and in came Varun Chakravarthy, whose mystery deliveries can be hard to pick for the Scotland batters.
“We spoke about 100-120 max but we restricted them to a total that allowed us to leapfrog everyone else. We spoke about finishing in the 8-10 over bracket,” captain Kohli said at the end of the match.
For batters to overhaul a target in the minimum required overs, it was pertinent for the bowlers to restrict them to below 100. And the bowlers responded to the challenge.
Although India took 2.3 overs to get their first wicket, they didn’t lose patience. They were relentless in attack, and eventually Scotland crumbled against sustained pressure.
Overs six and seven brought three wickets with Ravindra Jadeja picking up two. And they got the fifth wicket by the 12th over and sixth by 14th over with Scotland placed at 81.
Cleaning up the tail has haunted India in the past, but Mohammed Shami and Jaspirt Bumrah blew away the tailenders as Scotland folded for 85. Jadeja and Shami picked up three wickets each.
The equation was simple for India to overtake Afghanistan in NRR. They had to chase the total by 7.1 overs and Rohit Sharma and KL Rahul started off in the fifth gear.
While the first over fetched only eight, they opened up from the second over. With no swing and dew in play, the bowlers stood no chance.
The duo used the powerplay to good use. 15, 16, 14, 17 and 12 runs came in the next five overs as India got to the target in 6.3 overs.
Though Rohit (30, 16b, 5x4, 1x6) and Rahul (50, 19b, 6x4, 3x6) weren’t there in the end, Kohli and Suryakumar Yadav finished it off.
Brief Scores: Scotland 85 in 17.4 ovs (Munsey 24, Jadeja 3/15, Shami 3/15) lost to India 89/2 in 6.3 ovs (Rahul 50, Rahul 30).
64: Bumrah became India’s leading wicket-taker in this format. He now has 64 wickets to his name.
23: India took only 23 balls to reach 50. It was the fastest by any side in this edition of the World Cup.