Outgoing head coach Ravi Shastri and skipper Virat Kohli, who will lead the country for one last time in the shortest format, would aim to finish India’s underwhelming ICC Men’s T20 World Cup campaign on a positive note with a victory over Namibia in the team’s final Super 12 match in Dubai on Monday.
On Sunday, New Zealand comprehensively beat Afghanistan under the blazing afternoon sun at the Sheikh Zayed Stadium in Abu Dhabi despite the hopes of many a Indian fan.
The mood in the Indian team camp was evident when BCCI’s official media WhatsApp group had a message for the journalists: “The optional training session in the evening has been cancelled.”
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It was understandable dejection as for the first time since the 2012 edition of this event, India had failed to make the knockout stage of an ICC event.
India vs Namibia (across all formats)
|India won||181 runs||2003 ODI World Cup||Pietermaritzburg||23 Feb 2003|
The Indian players, who kept an eye on the TV watching Afghanistan battle it out against the Black Caps, knew by the halfway stage of the game that all of them would now have to take the flight back to their respective cities on Tuesday, a timely break from the bio-bubble but not in the way they would have liked.
Against Namibia, India would be expected to give skipper Kohli a winning farewell in this format. The likes of Rahul Chahar, Ishan Kishan could get a go in the XI as rotation kicks in.
Very rarely has an Indian team played such an inconsequential game at an ICC event after already being out of the race for the semi-finals. But maybe it will make for a relaxed atmosphere for what is the end of a significant, vibrant era in Indian cricket with the Shastri-Kohli partnership coming to a close.
India lost two crucial tosses for sure, but the exit is also evidently self-made as they batted awfully in testing conditions, and then bowled below par on a dew-laden Dubai surface.
“Toss played a very, very vital role and I believe in these kind of matches, toss shouldn’t be of any consequence,” bowling coach Bharath Arun said on Sunday.
“Here toss gives unfair advantage and there is a huge change in batting in the first innings and batting in the second innings. That shouldn’t be the case in short format like this,” he said.
Namibia have managed to beat only Scotland so far in their Super 12 engagements after making the tournament proper for the first time in the T20 format. They have been one of the success stories of what has otherwise been a lacklustre tournament so far. David Wiese has been a vital addition to their team while Gerhard Erasmus has led an impressive bowling unit well. To their credit, Namibia have competed hard in the Super 12 matches too, not making life easy for Pakistan or New Zealand. One could expect the same in Dubai on Monday.
“Look, we’ve analysed the Indian team. As players, you always look to plan ahead of a game like that or any game,” Namibia coach Pierre de Bruyn said ahead of the match.
“We know up front we’ll bat the way they play. If you’re not going to execute your plans and with that execute your skills, then they will punish you. That’s a guarantee.
“We want to finish this campaign on a high. You know, it’s been 45 days in this bubble. There are no excuses. This platform for any player, any player to face the best in the world, is a platform where you should treasure that moment. You should be up for it. There’s no doubt that this team is going to be up for it. I think it’s just important for us to play good, competitive cricket.”
For Kohli, this wasn’t how he would have liked to end his T20 captaincy stint with the national team having already quit IPL captaincy. It is also the first time since the 2013 Champions Trophy that an Indian men’s team has failed to reach at least the semi-final stage of an ICC event.
They were champions in the 50-over Champions Trophy in 2013, followed by runners-up finish in T20 World Cup in 2014. In the 2015 ODI World Cup, the team lost in the semifinals. The 2016 T20 World Cup saw them reach the last four stage while they lost to Pakistan in the 2017 final of the 50-over Champions Trophy. In 2019, their ODI World Cup campaign ended in the semi-final and the two-year long World Test Championship also ended in a finale defeat.
India: Virat Kohli (captain), Rohit Sharma, KL Rahul, Suryakumar Yadav, Ishan Kishan, Hardik Pandya, Rishabh Pant (wk), Ravindra Jadeja, Ravichandran Ashwin, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Jasprit Bumrah, Mohammed Shami, Rahul Chahar, Varun Chakravarthy, Shardul Thakur
Namibia: Namibia: Gerhard Erasmus (c), Stephen Baard, Karl Birkenstock. Michau du Preez, Jan Frylinck, Zane Green, Nicol Lofie-Eaton, Bernard Scholtz, Ben Shikongo, JJ Smit, Ruben Trumpelmann, Michael van Lingen, David Wiese, Craig Williams and Pikky Ya France.
Match starts 7:30 pm IST and will be broadcast on Start Sports and Disney+ Hotstar.
With PTI and ICC inputs