Group 2 of the Super 10 phase in the ongoing ICC World T20 2016 was termed as the group of death even before the phase actually took off. With the presence of 3 Asian sides along with Australia and New Zealand, even a near slip up could be enough to shatter a million dreams. Agonizingly for Indian fans, that was how things unfolded in Nagpur on the 15th against an efficient New Zealand outfit led by Kane Williamson.
The spider was entangled in its own comfortable web of spin on a crumbling Nagpur track, which has already attracted a lot of criticism in the past. The Indian batsmen considered the best players of spin bowling on the globe, tottered against the inexperienced Kiwi spinners as MS Dhoni’s men were eventually bowled out for 79 and humiliated by an excruciating margin of 47 runs.
More than the actual defeat, though, it was the way in which the hosts lost, which puts them in a serious spot of bother. After the first game, India’s net run rate is -2.350. Such a dismal NRR can have a drastic impact on India’s chances as in the upcoming games, India would not just have to win, but win comprehensively in order to cement their place in the semi-finals. The memories of the ICC World T20 2012 will surely flash in the minds of the Indians, who lost just one game in the Super 8 stage against Australia, and were on their way back. Ironically, like 2012, India have lost a game by a colossal margin and that can have disastrous consequences for their campaign.
Nevertheless, Dhoni’s boys can still redeem themselves as they still have the luxury of 3 games. India’s next encounter virtually becomes a must win clash against arch rivals Pakistan at the Eden Gardens. To add to India’s woes, is Pakistan’s present situation, as the men in the green lead the charts of Group 2 with a positive net run rate of 2.750. The win against Bangladesh has surely turned around Pakistan’s fortunes. With Pakistan already way ahead of India, the clash on Saturday becomes imperative for India to stay alive and in the hunt. A loss to Pakistan will all, but rule India out of the competition, unless Bangladesh causes a couple of upsets by beating Australia and New Zealand.
Let us have a look at some of the likely situations that need to arise for India to qualify for the semi-finals.
Win all 3 games:
Winning the remaining encounters against Pakistan, Bangladesh and Australia should be enough for India to proceed to the semi-finals. If India wins all the three games, then their net run rate too will improve and will not be in the dreaded negative category. An even better circumstance for team India would be if they win one of their games by a huge margin. A victory by a large margin will propel and boost India’s net run rate massively. A target chased down in 14-15 overs, or a victory in excess of 50 runs will be the best possible outcome for the hosts. Considering that India wins all their remaining games, Australia are bound to have at least one loss. This makes Australia’s games against New Zealand and Pakistan profusely exciting. In that case, Australia too would have to win all their remaining games.
Australia’s situation (Assuming India wins all three games)
Australia head into the event with a little uncertainty regarding their team combination. If Australia are to lose to India, but win against New Zealand, Pakistan and Bangladesh, then things would spice up. In such a case, Australia and India would be leveled with 3 wins out of 4 games. A 3 way tie could be on the cards if New Zealand beat Pakistan and Bangladesh. New Zealand too would have 3 wins in 4 games and that would mean Pakistan’s exit. Things would again come down to NRR then and the two teams with the most favorable net run rate would qualify. However, if Pakistan beat New Zealand then India and Australia would proceed through the next round.
Pakistan’s situation: (Assuming India wins all three games)
In case Pakistan lose to India, they too would have to win against Australia and New Zealand at all costs. If Pakistan beat Australia and New Zealand, then once again we would be in for a 3-way tie. This time around, though, India, Pakistan and New Zealand would be tied with 3 wins (New Zealand must defeat Bangladesh and Australia for that) and the top two teams would proceed ahead. Australia would be the first side to be eliminated in such a scenario. India and Pakistan would stroll through the next round if Australia defeat New Zealand in such a situation.
New Zealand going undefeated:
If New Zealand is undefeated, it will be a great boon to India. If the Blackcaps remain unbeaten, then just winning their remaining games would be more than enough for India to qualify. Considering that New Zealand are undefeated, then even another loss may not eliminate team India. But then the Indians would have to be influenced by the results of other games and seek the assistance of Bangladesh.
Seeking assistance from Bangladesh.
After such a dismal outing against Pakistan, Bangladesh might find it tough to be in contention again. However, they can surely assist India (Considering India defeat Bangladesh) by defeating either New Zealand or Australia, or even both. Now if Bangladesh out of nowhere indeed beat Australia and New Zealand, then not just India, but even Pakistan would be favored.
Group 2 is still in its early days and accurately predicting any outcome is simply too cumbersome a task. But based on the assumptions on the performances of other teams, India still stand a chance to make it to the semi finals. The men in blue would be hoping for a repeat of the 2007 ICC World T20, where the Indians lost their first Super 8 fixture, but went on to win the remaining 2 games and qualified for the semi finals. But more than anything else, the Indians should take one game at a time and not distract themselves by thinking about the outcomes of other games. If India play to their potential, they are bound to make it to the semi finals.