T20 World Cup: Who Will Be The Top Two Teams In Group-2?

Pakistan have almost sealed their berth in the semi-finals as probably the top team in Group-2 winning three out of three matches and notching up 6 points so far. What is more significant is the fact that Pakistan have crossed the main hurdles by defeating the toughest opponents in the group, namely India, New Zealand and Afghanistan. Now they have only two teams to overcome, considered to be weaker rivals. Of course, Namibia, creating another historic chapter by winning their first ever Super-stage match against Scotland, and Scotland are not pushovers. However, considering the roaring form Pakistan are in now winning against those two teams is not likely to be very tough, and in that scenario they will have 10 points—the maximum any team can manage in the group. The Pakistan team has arguably the best bowling attack of the tournament—combining pace and spin—and a very balanced team with someone up or down the line to finish the game. Captain Babar and wicket-keeper batsman Rizwan have shown consistency among quite a few others.


Afghanistan earlier trounced Scotland in the way of a champion and gave a tremendous fight against Pakistan taking their 5 wickets with 24 needed from the last two overs. But for finisher Asif Ali’s four sixes in the penultimate over the match could have gone in any direction. Their decision to bat first after winning the toss was probably due to Rashid and Nabi, but they could’ve done better by putting Pakistan in as the latter has not been tested so far in their ability in setting a target in the sluggish pitches. Unfortunately, Afghanistan could not manage to preserve one of their best strike bowlers for the death. The team has arguably the best spinners of the tournament in Rashid Khan and Nabi with the latter almost taking the game away from Pakistan in the 18th over. Rashid Khan is in the seventh heaven capturing his 100th scalp in 53 T20I matches. Already with 2 points Afghanistan have at the moment two tough opponents in the form of India and New Zealand apart from Namibia. With their spirit and talent they can really hope to get to 6 points to remain in contention. Their thundering six-hitting prowess has also become an important factor in their favor.


For India it is a must-win situation tomorrow against New Zealand; they have to win at least three out of the four remaining matches to get to 6 points to be in contention for a semi-final berth. The depth of their batting is yet to be tested, and Rohit, Rahul and Virat must fire against New Zealand—a very tough opponent with quality fast bowlers and super fieldsmen. As per the first match against Pakistan the Indian bowling attack seems the weakest in the group and there are several niggles in the team selection. Bhuvaneshwar Kumar has not shown his strike-bowler abilities either in the IPL-2021 or in the crucial match against Pakistan and he is a prime candidate for being replaced by Shardul Thakur who can also bat. Captain Virat Kohli’s obsession with Hardik Pandya is another hassle, because Pandya has not been bowling at all in the previous matches and his batting of late is also not promising. That puts the team in a crisis of not being able to find a sixth bowler in need. Ideally, Pandya should be replaced by Ravichandran Ashwin who has shown his prowess as a genuine all-rounder recently. But reports suggest that the same eleven will be fielded tomorrow. If India manage to beat New Zealand the future course would be relatively easy, at least to get 6 points.


New Zealand must be boiling hot and gearing up for a much-needed win after losing narrowly to Pakistan. If they manage to beat India with their ferocious pace attack then the future course would also be easier for them to notch up the minimum of 6 points to remain in contention. They would hope to overpower Scotland and Namibia, and even Afghanistan if they handle their spin attack successfully. New Zealand beat India in the famous World Cup-2019 semi-final and lost the final against England under controversial circumstances. Their super fielding is an additional asset for all their rivals concerned.


Therefore, we can imagine a situation of three teams of Group-2 ending up with 6 points each where the net run-rate would come into consideration to decide the second top team from the group, provided Namibia and Scotland do not cause any upsets. Tomorrow’s India Vs New Zealand encounter is perfectly setup with both teams facing a desperate must-win situation. As per the pitch behavior in UAE we can possibly expect a low-scoring cliffhanger or a one-sided affair if the Indian batting potential gets real with their spinners finding the deadly turn or if New Zealand fast bowlers manage to destroy Indian batting. As usual, the toss would be crucial as the dew factor would come into operation later in the night. For commercial reasons India figure in the second slot in all matches, but the toss and the dew factor may finish off commerce totally if India are unable to make it to the semi-finals.


Interestingly, in any world cricket tournament the India Vs Pakistan match is always of tremendous importance for the Indian fans. If India beat Pakistan in the round-robin then the fans feel as if the final has been won and if the opposite happens like in this tournament, although it was for the first time in one-day and T20 World Cups, most of the fans stop caring who goes on to win the final and the Cup. Nevertheless, if India manage to get to the semi-final stage the fans, barring the bigots, are expected to come roaring back to support their team.


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