T20 WC: Kohli's form a bothering point as India face Canada amid rain threat

| | Lauderhill (USA)
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T20 WC: Kohli's form a bothering point as India face Canada amid rain threat

Friday, 14 June 2024 | PTI | Lauderhill (USA)

T20 WC: Kohli's form a bothering point as India face Canada amid rain threat

Star batter Virat Kohli's string of low scores would be a concern for India when they square off against Canada in their final group match of the T20 World Cup on Saturday, hoping that the sky remains clear in this city even as several parts of Florida are ravaged by torrential rain.

With three consecutive wins, India are through to the Super Eight stage, which will be held entirely in the West Indies.

Kohli came into the T20 World Cup after setting the IPL ablaze, scoring upwards of 700 runs at a strike-rate of over 150 for Royal Challengers Bengaluru.

Therefore, it wasn't an entirely misplaced expectation that he will continue to fire in the ICC showpiece, which is perhaps his final chance to earn India an ICC World Cup after 13 years.

But three matches have gone by, and Kohli has five runs at an average of 1.66, including a 'Golden Duck' against the USA.

His form has provided an interesting subplot to the game against tournament-debutants Canada, which is otherwise inconsequential, at least for India.

Perhaps, an 1850km trip from New York to Florida might bring with it a turnaround in fortunes for Kohli, who must be hurting after those ordinary outings.

The pitch at the Broward County stadium might not be as spiteful as the one in New York, where the uneven bounce of the tracks and the slow nature of the outfield became bigger talking points than the cricket that was played.

What would ease some pressure on him is the fact that that the lean run has not really affected the team's fortunes.

However, the premier batter's low scores, particularly since he is opening alongside skipper Rohit Sharma, has put some pressure on the subsequent batters to take the India board forward.

Creditably, Rishabh Pant and Suryakumar Yadav have more than made up for Kohli.

Pant made 36 and 42 against Ireland and Pakistan, good enough contributions for India to emerge victors.

Suryakumar overcame a diffident start to the tournament just at the right time, making a crucial fifty against the USA.

'Spin Basher' Shivam Dube has been on a tailspin since his arrival in the US, but a laboured 31 off 35 balls against the co-hosts might just have fetched him another game ahead of the waiting Sanju Samson and Yashasvi Jaiswal.

If India want to bring in Jaiswal, then it has to be as an opener and Kohli will have to return to his No.3 slot.

While India's batting might, just as other teams, has been neutralised by the drop-in pitches in New York, their bowling worked like a well-oiled machine on those very tracks.

The trio of Jasprit Bumrah (five wickets), Hardik Pandya (seven wickets), Arshdeep Singh (seven wickets) have not given anything to the rival batters. The performance of Pandya and Arshdeep would be particularly pleasing to the management.

Both of them had a torrid time in the IPL on various counts and were heavily criticised.

But here, they have put all that behind them to lead India's attack along with the ever-reliable Bumrah.

The think-tank will also hope that at some stage Mohammed Siraj (one wicket) and Ravindra Jadeja, who is yet to pick up a wicket, will join their colleagues, even though both of them have not leaked runs.

However, it will not be entirely surprising to see the big wigs bring in some changes in the bowling department. They can think of giving a chance to either Kuldeep Yadav or Yuzvendra Chahal or even both against Canada.

In that case, India might give a break to Jadeja and Axar Patel, another impressive performer with both bat and ball.

It can also help the bowling unit prepare ahead of the Super Eights in the Caribbean, where the pitches are expected to be more spin-friendly.

On the other hand, Canada are a bit green behind the ears but not short of determination, as they had manifested during their 12-run win over Ireland.

Players such as opener Aaron Johnson can spring a surprise on their day.

But stopping this superior quality Indian side on its tracks could be a task beyond the Canadians, who might be banking more on the predicted spell of disruptive rains for that.

Lauderhill is about 50km from Miami, which has been battling flash floods caused by a tropical storm, a worrisome situation for the organisers of the showpiece who are hoping to make space for cricket in the American market.

Sqauds:

 

India: Rohit Sharma (c), Hardik Pandya, Yashasvi Jaiswal, Virat Kohli, Suryakumar Yadav, Rishabh Pant, Sanju Samson, Shivam Dube, Ravindra Jadeja, Axar Patel, Kuldeep Yadav, Yuzvendra Chahal, Arshdeep Singh, Jasprit Bumrah, Mohammad Siraj.

Canada: Saad Bin Zafar (c), Aaron Johnson, Dilon Heyliger, Dilpreet Bajwa, Rishiv Joshi, Jeremy Gordon, Junaid Siddiqui, Kaleem Sana, Kanwarpal Tathgur (wk), Navneet Dhaliwal, Nicholas Kirton, Pargat Singh, Ravinderpal Singh, Rayyankhan Pathan, Shreyas Movva (wk).

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