T20 World Cup: Can India make it out of the group stages?
India's match against New Zealand is essentially a knockout game given the situation in Group 2
The story in Group 2 paints a dark picture for the future of Team India in the ongoing T20 World Cup. The headaches for Virat Kohli and co might not have been this apparent on their opening day loss to Pakistan by a margin of 10 wickets. But given the manner in which things have unfolded since then, there are plenty of reasons for the Men in Blue to worry about.
For starters, arch-rivals Pakistan are firmly in control of the group having defeated New Zealand and Afghanistan in their following two games. Babar Azam's men have played some astounding cricket so far and genuinely look like they have the resources to go all the way this time around. With six points they have pretty much wrapped up the first position in the group.
As far as the second spot is concerned, there lies the catch. Not only will Team India compete with New Zealand for that coveted position in the group, they'll also have to get the better of Afghanistan who have played immensely well. Afghanistan defeated Scotland by 130 runs in their first game and even after their defeat to Pakistan, they still have a Net Run Rate of +3.092 which is the equivalent of having an extra win in hand.
Meanwhile, both New Zealand and India are yet to open their account in the tournament having played a single game each. This practically makes Sunday's encounter between the two nations a knockout match. Whoever wins this clash will be the favourite for the second spot in the group assuming they win the rest of their remaining matches.
The side on the losing end of the match will have to rely not only on amassing a healthy run rate by comprehensively defeating their opponents, but their fate will also rely on other teams (in Afghanistan and New Zealand essentially) dropping points. Meanwhile, Namibia and Scotland would and also love to play spoilsport and could ruin a few dreams in the group stages.
India have a poor record against New Zealand in ICC Knockout matches. The most recent 2019 World Cup semi-final and 2021 World Test Championship Final defeats are still fresh in the minds of cricket lovers in the country. In fact, the Men in Blue last defeated the Blackcaps in an ICC knockout match in 2003.
Therefore, on Sunday, Virat Kohli's men will be against history in a bid to stay alive in the competition.