Virat Kohli couldn’t have asked for a better occasion than his birthday to win the first toss of the ICC T20 World Cup. And the Men in Blue, consisting of three spinners for the first time in the tournament, gave its captain a fitting gift as India thrashed Scotland by eight wickets in its penultimate Super 12 match on Thursday night.
The inexperienced Scottish batters just could not withstand the relentless pressure by India’s bowlers to be bowled out for a paltry 85 in the 18th over at the Dubai International Cricket Stadium. Rohit Sharma (30, 16b, 5×4, 1×6) and K.L. Rahul (50, 19b, 6×4, 3×6), who had found their mojo in Abu Dhabi two nights ago, then made a mockery of Scotland’s bowling as India overhauled the target in just 39 balls.
With Rohit being plumb in front off a Brad Wheal yorker off the last ball of the fifth over, captain Kohli joined Rahul in the middle. Even though Rahul perished after a quickfire fifty, Kohli was at the crease when Suryakumar Yadav scored the winning six to complete the formalities.
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India required to cross Scotland’s total in 7.1 overs to better New Zealand’s and Afghanistan’s Net Run Rate. Having ticked the box, it will now hope for Afghanistan to surprise New Zealand on Sunday and make it to the semifinals by beating Namibia the next day.
Considering Scotland’s struggles against quality spin against Afghanistan earlier in the tournament and Shardul Thakur’s below-par outing in the previous two games, it didn’t come as a surprise when Varun Chakravarthy, having recovered from calf strain, replaced Shardul in the XI.
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While Varun, who opened the proceedings along with Jasprit Bumrah, remained the only wicket-less bowler, his senior mates put up a resounding performance to restrict the opposition. Bumrah, who was whipped for a six by George Munsey in the first over, started the Scotland downfall by getting rid of its captain Kyle Coetzer with a slower ball in the third over.
While Munsey and Matthew Cross survived the Powerplay, Ravindra Jadeja and Mohammed Shami emerged the pick of the bowlers with identical figures (3/15) to doom Scotland.
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Jadeja had Richie Berrington flummox first-up with the ball pitching on the leg and turning enough to beat the bat and strike into the middle stump, enough to be cherished by the weekend spectators that turned up to support India.
Shami then equalled, if not bettered, the best-dismissal competition with a perfect yorker towards the end to which tail-ender Alasdair Evans had no asnwer to.
While R. Ashwin was unlucky to have seen Rishabh Pant miss a stumping in his last over to add to his lone wicket, Bumrah, who bowled a maiden in the middle overs, came back to dismiss Mark Watt and ended Scotland’s misery.