Thursday, June 20, 2024

India vs Mini India: Rohit & Co. eye better batting show against USA

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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 teammate 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 PTI 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 Rohit to use his pull shot frequently.

There would be Nitish Kumar, who could be cheeky with his shot selection and prove to be a thorn in India’s flesh.

Shivam Dube and an extra spinner
In the first game, India’s weakest link was Shivam Dube. The Chennai Super Kings’ most valued ‘Impact Player’ is finding it tough on two-paced tracks where the ball is gripping and coming late onto the bat.

But unlike tactician-par-excellence Mahendra Singh Dhoni, who could bench him during CSK’s bowling in the IPL, national skipper Rohit Sharma doesn’t have such luxury and needs to hide him in areas of the field where the ball is expected to travel less.

Dube is a monstrous hitter of spinners on good flat decks and his military medium seam-up stuff does give the Indian skipper cushion to manoeuvre with the bowling combination.

But in a format like T20, the team management, which asked for Dube at the expense of Rinku Singh, would want him to come good.

Else, there is Yashasvi Jaiswal in the 15, who is a way more rounded batter than the big-bodied Mumbaikar.

Two wrist spinners, Yuzvendra Chahal and Kuldeep Yadav, should be given some game time or else they might just enter the Super Eights a bit undercooked in the Caribbean where the pitches will be more spin-friendly.

SQUADS:
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, Mohd. Siraj.

United States: Monank Patel (c), Aaron Jones, Andries Gous, Corey Anderson, Ali Khan, Harmeet Singh, Jessy Singh, Milind Kumar, Nisarg Patel, Nitish Kumar, Noshtush Kenjige, Saurabh Nethralvakar, Shadley Van Schalkwyk, Steven Taylor, Shayan Jahangir.

Match Starts: 8pm IST.

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