New Delhi: After two defeats, India had only a sliver of a chance of making the knockout stage. That would depend on on two things: Afghanistan beating New Zealand, and India winning its remaining three matches with humongous margins to take their Net Run Rate up dramatically. Their second win of this World Cup, against Scotland Friday showed they are on course. The sense of urgency was palpable.
They followed up their demolition of Afghanistan Wednesday by recording its second successive victory in the Men’s T20 World Cup with a 9-wicket win over Scotland with 13.3 overs to spare, thus providing captain Virat Kohli with the perfect 33rd birthday gift Friday.
The victory was achieved on the back of an all-round top tier bowling performance, led by pacer Mohammad Shami and spinner Ravindra Jadeja, who took three wickets each in career-best individual figures, as Kyle Coetzer’s batting lineup never truly got going, finishing on 85 all out.
In order to overtake Afghanistan in the points table on Net Run Rate, India needed to chase down the target within 7.1 overs, and the 70-run opening partnership from Rohit Sharma and K.L. Rahul, and the winning six from Suryakumar Yadav, ensured that India achieved it without a great deal of fuss.
However, India’s chances of a semifinal spot continue to rely on other results, in light of New Zealand’s 52-run victory over Namibia earlier Friday. Now, India will not only need to beat Namibia Monday but will hope for Afghanistan to beat the Kiwis Sunday.
The Shami and Jadeja show
Although the entire Indian bowling attack showed commendable discipline and control with their lines and lengths, it was ultimately Mohammad Shami and Ravindra Jadeja’s spells that proved to be the most crucial.
While Shami effectively ended the match as a contest by dismissing Scotland’s most destructive batsman and top scorer George Munsey within the powerplay, Jadeja triggered a middle order collapse with the wickets of Matthew Cross, Richie Berrington, and most notably, in-form allrounder Michael Leask.
Shami’s greatest strength was mixing test match lengths with the occasional high-speed yorkers and bouncers not allowing the Scottish top order to settle, to the point that he even recorded a maiden in his first over after removing dangerman Munsey.
Meanwhile, Scotland’s usual reliance on the sweep and reverse sweep when playing spin worked against them when facing Jadeja, as they had no answer for his darters and straighteners.
Scotland reduced from spirited to shell-shocked
In fact, the only time their top order did recover from a collapse this tournament was when Bangladesh took their foot off the gas after reducing Scotland to 53-6, allowing Chris Greaves and Mark Watt to record a match-winning partnership.
Friday, however, the Indian bowlers’ pressure did not relent, as senior batsman Calum MacLeod’s glacial innings of 16 off 28 summed up the majority of Scotland’s Super 12 top order batting performances so far.
While Scotland’s bowlers can be spared from much scrutiny as they had next to nothing to defend, the entire bowling attack, save for Mark Watt, either bowled too full, too wide, or too far down the leg side.
As a result, the Indian top order’s job of chasing the entire target within the powerplay became all the more straightforward, although Rohit fell to a perfect yorker from Brad Wheal, while Rahul holed out to Calum MacLeod off Mark Watt’s bowling.
While Scotland will look to dust themselves off and repeat their admirable showing in the New Zealand game Wednesday when they play Pakistan Sunday, India must pray for an Afghan miracle before repeating this performance against Gerhard Erasmus’ Namibia.
Brief score: Scotland 85 all out (George Munsey 24, Michael Leask 21, Ravindra Jadeja 3-15, Mohammad Shami 3-15); India 89-2 (K.L. Rahul 50, Rohit Sharma 30, Mark Watt 1-20)
(Edited by Poulomi Banerjee)
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