I hope you have the popcorn and that fizzy, black drink ready for India’s opening T20 World Cup game. It’s March and year-end closing of accounts and balance sheets, but if you believe me, please wind up all of that during the day and gear up for a talented New Zealand taking on favourites India. Personally, I’d have loved to be in the blue outfit dancing down the Nagpur pitch rather than have my fingers dance on my laptop keyboard. But such is life...
As I think about New Zealand, my mind races to two people. One has moved on from the game and the other from this world. I’ll miss my friend and erstwhile KKR teammate Brendon McCullum. On Indian pitches he could have been a handful. Also, as a leader he’d have been a pillar in the New Zealand dressing room.
The other gentleman is the late Martin Crowe who lost his battle to lymphoma, but seldom lost to the opposition. I remember he once wrote a glowing tribute to Ross Taylor and Martin Guptill on the eve of New Zealand’s 2015 World Cup final against Australia. He termed them as ‘The Two Sons I Never Had’. Unfortunately, Crowe’s ‘two sons’ couldn’t see the team through then but now they have another chance. Crowe would have been happy to note that the Black Caps look balanced.
In the blue corner is the India team. They too are brimming with confidence. The home advantage is theirs and it was evident in the way the Nagpur pitch has played so far. In the game between Afghanistan and Zimbabwe, it looked powder dry and tailor-made for India. I have been doing a lot of media work in the lead-up to the World Cup and I am still engaged with a national news channel. I have been asked many times to pick the India team for the first game. If I read MS Dhoni right, he’ll play the same eleven that won India the Asia Cup.
I have always maintained that bowlers win you a match, whatever the format. The India bowlers have been in form and its now about holding the nerve as sometimes hype can get the better of a young cricketer like Pandya or Bumrah. India are in a tough group with Australia and Pakistan there as well. Well, this sure is going to be a cracker of a tournament. So, sit back, relax and keep the popcorn and that fizzy drink flowing.
The writer is a former India opener