T20 World Cup: India eye better batting show against high-flying US

Published June 12, 2024
India’s Rishabh Pant (C) celebrates his team’s win with teammate Shivam Dube after the ICC men’s Twenty20 World Cup 2024 group A cricket match between India and Ireland at Nassau County International Cricket Stadium in East Meadow, New York, on June 5, 2024. — AFP/File
India’s Rishabh Pant (C) celebrates his team’s win with teammate Shivam Dube after the ICC men’s Twenty20 World Cup 2024 group A cricket match between India and Ireland at Nassau County International Cricket Stadium in East Meadow, New York, on June 5, 2024. — AFP/File

NEW YORK: India’s batting prima donnas would want to unchain themselves from the vagaries of a much-maligned drop-in track and chance their arms freely against an impressive-but-inexperienced USA in their group league game of the T20 World Cup here on Wednesday.

India, who are classified as A1 (irrespective of points), need just one more win to ensure their Super Eight berth and despite the two-paced nature of the Nassau County track, they wouldn’t like a repeat of the match against Pakistan where they lost their last seven wickets for 28 runs.

Against USA, the approach could be a high-risk one like Pakistan but perhaps with higher dividends. Their dreams of wearing the India blues remained unfulfilled but when a sprightly bunch of Indian Americans take the field against their country of birth, the likes of Saurabh Netravalkars and Harmeet Singhs would once again like to be the proverbial David against the Goaliaths of the game.

Even though the track has significantly bridged the gap between teams, the USA, which is an eclectic mix of eight Indians, two Pakistanis, a West Indian, one New Zealander, a South African and a Dutch might just find the gulf with India too much to bridge.

Neither have they grabbed air time on American channels nor the famous broadsheets have been devoting any newsprint on them even after the Super Over win over Pakistan but Wednesday could just be the day when the country of their choice takes note of their performance.

Monank Patel, Harmeet, Netravalkar, Jessy Singh and Noshtush Kenjige all have their little Indian story to tell and if the opposition has Rohit Sharma, Virat Kohli, Jasprit Bumrah and Rishabh Pant in its ranks, it would be a touch more endearing.

It’s not everyday that one gets a chance to bowl at Kohli and Sharma and face Bumrah even if it’s far from being a sweet experience. But it’s experience nevertheless and that too of a lifetime.

For India, it will be their last match in the ‘Big Apple’ extension and the one where they wouldn’t mind batting first.

If India bowl first, there could be a high chance that USA might not be able to touch the three-figure mark against Bumrah, Mohammed Siraj and Ravindra Jadeja.

There will be some beautiful and emotional sub-plots as well if Netravalkar gets a chance to bowl to his former Mumbai team-mate Suryakumar Yadav with whom he played in Mumbai U-15, Ranji and Vijay Hazare Trophy.

“It will be an emotional moment to play against India and especially Surya as we go back a long way,” Netravalkar told Press Trust of India news agency recently.

For the two left-arm spinners Harmeet and Kenjige, the challenge of trying to keep Rishabh Pant quiet will be of altogether different level.

Both Harmeet and Kenjige will try to maintain dart-like accuracy but that could well be dismantled by Pant, who is sure to use his feet. For Ali Khan, his extra pace and the bounce that he extracts from even benign surfaces would certainly provoke Sharma to use his pull shot frequently.

Published in Dawn, June 12th, 2024

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