India look to go phoenix mode against street-smart New Zealand

DUBAI: Virat Kohli will be facing the most defining test of his captaincy career as he expects his men to be the proverbial “phoenix rising from the ashes” when India take on a street-smart New Zealand in a ‘do-or-die’ ICC T20 World Cup Super 12 game here on Sunday.
Having endured a nightmare last Sunday against Pakistan, a match that they would like to forget in a hurry, India have a lot of course correction to do against the Kiwis, more so in getting the roles assigned for the players right.
It won’t be easy against a quality New Zealand, which will come hard at India having also lost to Pakistan in their opening game.
Tim Southee and Trent Boult, especially have been a nemesis for the Indians in big games.
However, their soft underbelly is batting where Kane Williamson is still not hundred per cent and Martin Guptill also had a foot injury.
It’s effective without being flamboyant, although, Devon Conway is a flashy batter.
And herein lies India’s chance but for that, their bowlers need to implement the game plans perfectly, something they couldn’t against Pakistan.
Even more important will be execution from two players on whom the team management has heavily invested — a half-fit Hardik Pandya and an out-of-form Bhuvneshwar Kumar, who have been the weak-links of this Indian team.
Hardik, who has not been the cricketer everyone feared since his back injury, is playing to save his India career.
That he hasn’t exactly been truthful about the status of his bowling capabilities has been exposed and trying to roll his arm over at the nets speaks volumes of his desperation.
His franchise Mumbai Indians are putting him back in the auction pool and time, indeed, is running out for him.
Bhuvneshwar could well be playing his last international tournament.
His pace has dropped remarkably in the past two seasons and somewhere he has not been a patch of what his younger competitor Deepak Chahar has been in recent years.
Yet, India have punted on his experience and it’s high-time that he delivers before being shunned into oblivion.
India have shown in recent times, at least, in Test arena that they can come back from brink with unforgettable performances but Kohli in his last assignment as T20 captain would like to change the script that always seemed to go awry at global events.
More so, because another failure at a mega event could well mean that there will be aspersions cast on his abilities as a white ball skipper and the 50-over leadership will also come under the scanner. —PTI

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