The fate of the supposed group of death of the ICC T20 World Cup would have been sealed by the time you read this. But, thanks to a combination of strange results and scheduling to suit television viewers in a certain territory, Group 2 could well be touted as the group of death, heading into the last two days of the tournament’s Super-12 stage.
With England being assured of a place in the semis, Australia and South Africa were vying for the other slot from Group 1. In Group 2, however, three teams, albeit technically, are in contention for the other open spot, with Pakistan set to top the table.
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While two of these three teams — New Zealand and Afghanistan — will be up against each other, India, the favourite-turned-outsider, will be gunning for Afghanistan sitting in its swanky resort here.
The fact that India has to bank on Afghanistan to spring the biggest surprise of the tournament speaks volumes about the kind of campaign it has had. Having been demolished by two other main contenders in the group, even the biggest supporters of the Indian team would admit that it doesn’t deserve to be in the knockouts.
Still, India has done everything it can in its last two games to give itself a shot to be in the semis. It revived its fortunes in Abu Dhabi with the run feast that saw the openers coming good and the big-hitters being promoted following a tweak in the batting order.
The Men in Blue then celebrated captain Virat Kohli’s birthday by dismantling Scotland for 85 and blitzing past the target in just 39 balls. It helped India to better New Zealand’s and Afghanistan’s Net Run Rate, a factor that could be decisive should New Zealand succumb to
That India has failed to lift itself up in the ICC tournaments at crucial junctures will remain a blot on Kohli and coach Ravi Shastri’s otherwise successful partnership.
No wonder then Jadeja, at the end of his post-match press conference, came up with a matter-of-fact reply when he was asked what will India do if New Zealand wins on Sunday. “We will pack our bags and go home, what else?” Jadeja said.
If India’s campaign ends even before its last game on Monday, it will have no one else to blame.