T20 World Cup | India faces another pace test, from New Zealand this time

Top three need to set the platform for the power-hitters in the middle-order; Boult & Co. will be keen to take a leaf out of Afridi’s book

A week after failing the Shaheen Shah Afridi test, India’s batters will expect yet another stern examination by Trent Boult & Co. in a must-win Super 12 match of the ICC T20 World Cup against New Zealand at the Dubai International Cricket Stadium on Sunday.

While Afridi is still raw and quick, his senior left-arm pacer, Boult, is not only more experienced but perhaps knows the strengths and weaknesses of India’s batters a tad better than the Pakistan bowlers.

IPL takeaway

Having been a regular in the Indian Premier League, Boult and his colleagues in the pace department — veteran Tim Southee and Adam Milne — are used to bowling at all of India’s batters.

 

The last time these two teams faced each other in a World Cup — the 2019 semifinal — the Kiwi pacers rolled over India’s top-order, with Boult accounting for captain Virat Kohli. Having just faced a similar top-order disaster versus Pakistan in its tournament-opener, India will be hoping to avert another collapse.

While the attention will be on whether India brings in Ishan Kishan and Shardul Thakur in place of Hardik Pandya and Bhuvneshwar Kumar, the onus will be on India’s top three to set the platform for the middle-order to show its hitting prowess.

With Rohit Sharma and K.L. Rahul succumbing to Afridi’s artistry, captain Kohli was forced to grind his way to a fifty. On Sunday, all three of them will have to come out all guns blazing.

 

If they can get off to a flier, the likes of Suryakumar Yadav, Rishabh Pant and Hardik/Ishan can take the game away from the Black Caps.

Varun’s chance

Rookie Varun Chakravarthy couldn’t really deliver the goods under pressure against Pakistan. But with the Kiwis, barring Kane Williamson, not having faced him earlier, India will be banking on Varun’s mystery spin to fetch wickets.

Jasprit Bumrah and Mohammed Shami can then look to attack rather than contain. India will be looking forward to all the wheels of its chariot moving in sync to enable it to open its account.

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