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Rediff.com  » Cricket » T20 WC: All eyes on Kohli as India face Canada amid rain threat

T20 WC: All eyes on Kohli as India face Canada amid rain threat

Source: PTI
Last updated on: June 14, 2024 13:52 IST
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IMAGE: Virat Kohli has struggled in seamer-friendly conditions with scores of 1, 4 and 0 in the first three matches of the T20 World Cup. Photograph: BCCI

Star batter Virat Kohli's string of low scores would be a concern for India when they play against Canada in their final group match of the T20 World Cup in Lauderhill, Florida, on Saturday, hoping that the sky remains clear even as several parts of the city are ravaged by torrential rain.

With three consecutive wins, India are through to the Super Eight stage, which will be held entirely in the West Indies.

 

Kohli came into the T20 World Cup after setting the IPL ablaze, finishing as the top run-getter in the tournament with 741 runs at a strike rate of 154 while playing as the opener for RCB.

Therefore, it wasn't an entirely misplaced expectation that he will continue to fire in the ICC showpiece, which is perhaps his final chance to earn India an ICC World Cup after 13 years.

But three matches have gone by, and Kohli has five runs at an average of 1.66, including a first-ball duck against USA.

His form has provided an interesting subplot to the game against T20 World Cup-debutants Canada, which is otherwise inconsequential, at least for India.

Perhaps, an 1850km trip from New York to Florida might bring with it a turnaround in fortunes for Kohli, who must be hurting after those ordinary outings.

IMAGE: Arshdeep Singh has made an impact with the ball, picking up seven wickets in three matches in the T20 World Cup. Photograph: BCCI

The pitch at the Broward County stadium in Florida might not be as spiteful as the one in New York, where the uneven bounce of the tracks and the slow nature of the outfield became bigger talking points than the cricket that was played.

What would ease some pressure on him is the fact that that the lean run has not really affected the team's fortunes.

However, Kohli's low scores, particularly since he is opening alongside skipper Rohit Sharma, has put some pressure on the middle and lower order especially on difficult pitches.

Creditably, Rishabh Pant and Suryakumar Yadav have more than made up for Kohli.

Pant made 36 and 42 against Ireland and Pakistan, good enough contributions for India to emerge victors. Suryakumar overcame a diffident start to the tournament just at the right time, making a crucial fifty against USA.

Shivam Dube has been on a tailspin since his arrival in the US, but a laboured 31 off 35 balls against the co-hosts might just have fetched him another game ahead of the waiting Sanju Samson and Yashasvi Jaiswal.

If India want to bring in Jaiswal, then it has to be as an opener and Kohli will have to return to his No.3 slot.

While India's batting might, just as other teams, has been neutralised by the drop-in pitches in New York, their bowling worked like a well-oiled machine on those very tracks.

The trio of Jasprit Bumrah (5 wickets), Hardik Pandya (7  wickets), Arshdeep Singh (7 wickets) have not given anything to the rival batters. The performance of Pandya and Arshdeep would be particularly pleasing to the management.

Both of them had a torrid time in the IPL on various counts and were heavily criticised. But here, they have put all that behind them to lead India's attack along with the ever-reliable Bumrah.

IMAGE: Will India try out Sanju Samson and Kuldeep Yadav against Canada? Photograph: BCCI

The think-tank will also hope that at some stage Mohammed Siraj (1 wicket) and Ravindra Jadeja, who is yet to pick up a wicket, will join their colleagues, even though both of them have not leaked runs.

However, it will not be entirely surprising to see the big wigs bring in some changes in the bowling department. They can think of giving a chance to either Kuldeep Yadav or Yuzvendra Chahal or even both against Canada.

In that case, India might give a break to Jadeja and Axar Patel, another impressive performer with both bat and ball.

It can also help the bowling unit prepare ahead of the Super Eights in the Caribbean, where the pitches are expected to be more spin-friendly.

On the other hand, Canada are a bit green behind the ears but not short of determination, as they had manifested during their 12-run win over Ireland.

Players such as opener Aaron Johnson can spring a surprise on their day.

But stopping this superior quality Indian side on its tracks could be a task beyond the Canadians, who might be banking more on the predicted spell of disruptive rains for that.

Lauderhill is about 50km from Miami, which has been battling flash floods caused by a tropical storm, a worrisome situation for the organisers, who are hoping to make space for cricket in the American market.

Sqauds:

India: Rohit Sharma (captain), Hardik Pandya, Yashasvi Jaiswal, Virat Kohli, Suryakumar Yadav, Rishabh Pant (w/k), Sanju Samson (w/k), Shivam Dube, Ravindra Jadeja, Axar Patel, Kuldeep Yadav, Yuzvendra Chahal, Arshdeep Singh, Jasprit Bumrah, Mohammad Siraj.

Canada: Saad Bin Zafar (captain), Aaron Johnson, Dilon Heyliger, Dilpreet Bajwa, Shreyas Movva (w/k), Rishiv Joshi, Jeremy Gordon, Junaid Siddiqui, Kaleem Sana, Kanwarpal Tathgur (wk), Navneet Dhaliwal, Nicholas Kirton, Pargat Singh, Ravinderpal Singh, Rayyankhan Pathan.

Match: Starts at 8pm IST.

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