by: Atika Mehboob TN Sport Pakistan: In a top-of-the-table showdown against a New Zealand team that has dominated them in recent global tournaments, India faced the daunting task of playing without their most pivotal player. The Kiwis exerted intense pressure at various points in the game.
Yet, drawing a parallel to Gary Lineker’s famed quote about another sport’s powerhouse, “Football is simple. Twenty-two men chase a ball for 90 minutes, and at the end, the Germans always win,” India emerged embodying the 2023 World Cup’s unbeatable giant.
Halfway through the league stage, with the knockouts yet to come, India’s formidable form remains unshaken. This was evident when, in a reminiscent attempt of his approach against Bangladesh, Virat Kohli declined singles in pursuit of his century with victory in sight. Although he fell short this time, getting caught on the midwicket boundary while on 95, India comfortably secured the win.
Ravindra Jadeja delivered the final blow, hitting Matt Henry for a boundary, concluding the match with two overs remaining. Jadeja’s unbeaten 39 was crucial, especially since he entered at No. 7 with India still 83 runs short of victory.
With the absence of an injured Hardik Pandya, India brought in two specialists: batsman Suryakumar Yadav and pacer Mohammed Shami. This meant that India’s batting lineup was perceived to end with Jadeja at No. 7.
However, what India might have lacked in batting depth was compensated by their potent pace attack. They were instrumental in limiting New Zealand to 273, a significant feat considering the Kiwis were cruising at 178 for 2 at one juncture. Making his debut in this tournament, Shami took center stage, claiming five wickets.
His relentless pressure on New Zealand’s lower order highlighted India’s exceptional performance in the last 10 overs, in which they claimed six wickets for a mere 54 runs.