After an extremely engrossing and nail-biting four-wicket victory over Pakistan on the last ball at a sell-out Melbourne Cricket Ground to kick off their T20 World Cup campaign, India will be aiming for their second victory on the trot when they face a resolute Netherlands in their second Super 12 match at the Sydney Cricket Ground on Thursday.
With little time between matches happening in different time zones in Australia, India chose to rest on the eve of their match against the Netherlands after an optional session happened on Tuesday. In his pre-match press conference, bowling coach Paras Mhambrey explained how it was good for them to play Pakistan at the start of their T20 World Cup campaign.
“The discussion we have had is that every game in the tournament is important. Yes, in the first game, we knew the hype around it. It was always going to be high intensity in the big clash. But having the first game done and dusted is always good. Had this game been the third or fourth, (it) would sometimes have an effect on the following games.
“Having this game out was good. We knew that every game from here on in the World Cup is going to be important, every team that is in the tournament has worked its way up because they (Netherlands) have done something good and that’s the reason they are out here. We take it like that and focus on not just the individuals, but the team itself on that given day, one day at a time.”
From the match against Pakistan, talismanic batter Virat Kohli’s epic knock of 82 not out was the biggest positive for India. It reiterated that Kohli still had it in him to win chases for India under immense pressure and register himself in cricketing folklore yet again.
Apart from him, Hardik Pandya’s all-round show and left-arm fast bowler Arshdeep Singh’s scalps must have certainly pleased the Indian team think-tank with Ravichandran Ashwin, Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Mohammed Shami doing a tidy job with the ball.
But one thing which India might look to rectify against Netherlands will be about captain Rohit Sharma and KL Rahul breaking free from their tentative self when facing high-pace deliveries. The Dutch pacers in Bas de Leede, Paul van Meekeren and Fred Klaassen will test the opening pair very well at Sydney.
For Netherlands, led by wicketkeeper-batter Scott Edwards, playing against India, one of the best T20I sides currently in the world, will be a challenge they will relish after entering the Super 12 stage.
Though the Netherlands side generates tremendous excitement in FIFA World Cups or Hockey World Cups, Edwards & Co. will be hoping to grab more attention of their nation through the ongoing showpiece event.
On seeing India chase 160 against Pakistan on the last ball, Netherlands will be aware that they need to put in superlative efforts with the bat to either post a total or give Sharma & Co. an almighty scare while chasing.
Against Bangladesh, Netherlands never recovered from losing four wickets in power-play and despite a fine 62 by Colin Ackermann, also his maiden T20I century and some lofty hits from van Meekeren, they fell short by nine runs.
But they will take confidence from the fact that their bowlers were able to keep Bangladesh to 144 in their 20 overs. With Netherlands facing India in the second match at the iconic stadium on Thursday with Bangladesh-South Africa game to happen first, they will hope for young spinners, Tim Pringle and Shariz Ahmed, to do something magical against a famed Indian batting order.
For succeeding in Sydney, a place which has been a traditional spin favouring place, adaptability will be the key. With some rain forecast before the start of the match, it makes the first six overs crucial, something which Mhambrey acknowledged in cold conditions of Australia.
“It’s going to be challenging from a batting perspective. You saw in the last game, we expected it to do a little bit, but didn’t expect it to do as much as we had thought in a game. The initial phase, first power-play, is going to be challenging from the bowlers’ perspective. But I am happy, that gives us an opportunity to get back in the game, pick wickets for the bowling perspective.
“It’s going to be a challenge, so it’s good. But having said that, you got to be using the conditions and we acknowledge that the adaptability phase will come in, different wickets will possess different challenges and you should be able to adapt to the lines, lengths, depending on the conditions. But we got to be able to summarise how the wicket is.”
India: Rohit Sharma (captain), KL Rahul, Virat Kohli, Suryakumar Yadav, Deepak Hooda, Rishabh Pant (wicket-keeper), Dinesh Karthik (wicket-keeper), Hardik Pandya, Ravichandran Ashwin, Yuzvendra Chahal, Axar Patel, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Harshal Patel, Arshdeep Singh and Mohammad Shami.