Challenge is not too Super for Indians
The game against NZ today will be crucial for India as it will set the tone for things ahead, writes A Karhadkar. Play and winUpdated: Sep 17, 2007, 21:52 IST
Most Indian supporters in and around Kingsmead were horror-struck after India managed just 141 for nine on Friday evening. Everyone was asking the same question: What if Pakistan romped home in 14.4 overs? Would India's campaign end in the first round of the year's second World Cup?
But that wasn't to be. Not only did India make Pakistan bat more than 88 balls to ensure a place in the Super Eights, they beat them 3-0 in bowl-out.
No rational person would have billed any team a favourite for the inaugural T20 crown, given that a bare two dozen internationals have been played so far. This line of reasoning was proved right when the Aussies were stunned by Zimbabwe.
In India's case, the stakes are different. The Big 3 have opted to rest and Dhoni leads a young, restless bunch. Their inexperience and tentativeness about Twenty20 has showed. But Friday's performance, with the ball and in the field, has raised hopes of their making the knockouts. The path is obviously not easy.
India should be happy to find themselves grouped with New Zealand, England and South Africa in Group E, instead of the more unpredictable elements of the other group, which has Australia, Sri Lanka, Pakistan and Bangladesh.
If India have to be in with a chance to be in the semis, their first Super Eight game, against New Zealand in Johannesburg on Sunday, will be crucial as it will set the tone for things ahead.
What's on their side is some renewed confidence and a day of rest, unlike the Kiwis who have taken a battering from Jayasuriya and Co on Saturday.
New Zealand really have very little time to plan for the game. On the other hand, four members of India's support staff - cricket manager Lalchand Rajput, bowling coach Venkatesh Prasad, fielding coach Robin Singh and selector on tour Venkatapathy Raju - watched New Zealand's match from the Wanderers stands.