It was the most comprehensive of wins. After winning the toss, India bowled Scotland out for 85 and then chased down the runs in just 6.3 overs. The victory also gave their net run-rate a huge boost. But that’s enough about this match because the only game that all of India have their eyes on now is the game between New Zealand and Afghanistan.
Despite the 66-run win against Afghanistan and the eight-wicket win against Scotland, India know that the chances of qualifying for the semi-finals do not rest in their hands. In just two games, India’s net run rate has leapt up from -1.069 to 1.619. With the NRR problem out of the way, India now need to turn their attention to the points column.
Between India, Afghanistan and New Zealand, the Kiwis have the lowest NRR but the most points.
Group 2 NRR – as it stands
New Zealand: +1.277
So if New Zealand win, then India, as Ravindra Jadeja said in the post-match press conference, can pack their bags and leave. However, if Afghanistan win, Kohli and Co will suddenly find themselves back in the game.
However, one might argue that India haven’t helped their cause. Not just by losing the first two games but also by not playing Afghanistan more often in the past few years. The Afghans are a greatly improved side and their spin bowling department possesses some serious quality but they are a side that just hasn’t had the opportunity to play the big sides often enough.
As Afghan leg-spinner Rashid Khan put it after loss against India: “We know our skills. It’s all about playing against those big teams, it takes time. We have to play with them more in a year in order to get used to them, understand them, their weakness, strong point. Then you work on your areas where you can come back stronger. I think as a team we hardly get the opportunity to play with them, against India and other good sides. We don’t get that opportunity. We only play with them in the World Cup.”
Rashid Khan added: “As a team you have that kind of big team pressure. We know playing all around the world in the leagues with them and we’re used to with them, but still, the rest of the players, they need that kind of belief in themselves that we can deliver against a big side, as well. But it’s just kind of that belief. Once it comes, I think we can beat any side in a day, but that will come when we play more cricket with those teams.”
|v Hong Kong||2014-2016||5||3||2|
|v West Indies||2016-2019||7||3||4|
|v South Africa||2010-2016||2||0||2|
|v Sri Lanka||2016-2016||1||0||1|
What is true of Afghanistan is also true of Scotland and every other associate nation. The ICC has been unable to work out a way to make them play the more established nations on a regular basis and if that doesn’t happen then we will witness blowouts of the kind we saw on Friday.
It is all well and good to visit the Scotland dressing room after the match but India and all the other Test nations need to be much more welcoming in terms of actual game time.
Cricket is losing its competitive edge and the ICC needs to step in and ensure that the associate nations get exposure not just against other associate nations but also against the top teams. This could be done through ‘friendlies’ or first-class games and even the odd tri-series.
India, for one, have already sent a ‘B’ team on a tour of Sri Lanka. Surely, the BCCI can send these alternate teams for a few more tours of upcoming cricket nations. Given that the ICC has little control of the bilateral series’, the onus is on the Test nations.
It might just be wishful thinking but at the end of the day, a stronger Afghanistan or Scotland or Namibia means a stronger international game. The more competitive the sport is the more fans it will draw.
The leagues are helping but so far only the cream gets picked and India will hope those very players can bring their ‘A’ game for the match against New Zealand. It’s either that or another ICC tournament without a trophy.