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All bets are off following India’s humbling in World T20 opener

India, New Zealand, ICC World T20, Rohit Sharma, Dhoni, Kohli, Yuvraj
India started the World T20 opener on the front foot, restricting the Kiwis to 126 for seven. Ironically India would get a taste of their own medicine, being spun out 79 in their chase.

India, at home, were meant to be the favourites to lift their second World twenty20 crown. Just a day into the tournament and India find themselves facing an uphill struggle to even qualify to the semi-finals following a 47-run thrashing by New Zealand.

India started the World T20 opener on the front foot, restricting the Kiwis to 126 for seven. Ironically India would get a taste of their own medicine, being spun out 79 in their chase.

Credit must be given to New Zealand captain Kane Williamson and Coach Mike Hesson, who were bold in their team selections. Three spinners – Nathan McCullum, Mitchell Santner and Ish Sodhi – were included in the playing XI but most shocking were the players they replaced – Tim Southee, Trent Boult and Mitchell McClenaghan. Southee and Boult have sufficient IPL experience along with being international cricket’s premier fast bowlers, which made their omissions even more shocking.

While Williamson played to the spinning conditions in Nagpur, the same cannot be said of the Indian contingent. The bowlers – Ashish Nehra, Jasprit Bumrah and Suresh Raina in particular – were excellent but were badly let down by the batting unit, supposedly the best players of spin in the world.

Apart from MS Dhoni and initially Virat Kohli, the fabled Indian batting line up flattered to deceive. Shikhar Dhawan was out playing a cross-batted shot while Rohit Sharma danced down the track for no reason, only to be stumped. Raina, Yuvraj Singh and Ravindra Jadeja provided catching practise while Hardik Pandya has yet to demonstrate any signs that he belongs at this level.

In the space of an hour, the Indian batting unit were brought down from their pedestal, blowing the World T20 wide open. India’s net run rate is an abysmal -2.350, which means they have to qualify for the semis solely via points. They have yet to play Pakistan, Australia and Bangladesh from their group and what initially seemed like a World T20 title to be claimed, now seems rather improbable to win.

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