T20 World Cup: Rahul dazzles as India's big win takes semi-final race to the wire

By Sports Desk November 05, 2021

India kept their hopes of progressing to the T20 World Cup semi-finals alive with an eight-wicket win over Scotland in Dubai.

Virat Kohli turned 33 on Friday, and his team handed the captain a birthday gift with a brilliant display against the minnows.

With New Zealand having beaten Namibia to move onto six points in Group 2, India needed a big win to maintain their slim semi-final hopes.

Kohli won the toss and chose to field, and though George Munsey – who hit a six off the first over – started brightly, his knock of 24 from 19 deliveries was the highest score any Scotland batsman managed.

Scotland were skittled out for just 85, Mohammed Shami finishing with figures of 3-15, identical to those of Ravindra Jadeja, while Jasprit Bumrah took 2-10. Shami began the 17th over with wickets from the first three balls, including a run out.

The bowling performance paved the way for a swift India success, led by the magnificent KL Rahul, who hit 50 from 19 balls before looping a shot down the ground to Calum MacLeod from Mark Watt's enticing delivery.

Rahul's fellow opener Rohit Sharma – aiming to become just the third player to reach 3,000 T20I runs – reached 30 before succumbing lbw to Brad Wheal.

Kohli ticked over two singles before a huge six from Suryakumar Yadav sealed India's success after just 6.3 overs.

Rahul and Rohit sparkle

India's openers raced to the fastest team 50 in the tournament, taking just 23 balls to reach that mark.

Rohit is now just 18 runs short of joining team-mate Kohli and New Zealand's Martin Guptill in the 3,000-runs club, though he may well only have one more shot at that this tournament. His partner Rahul dazzled, hitting three sixes and a further six boundaries in a sensational show of quality.

India need a New Zealand slip-up

There is real jeopardy in Group 2, and a big team will miss out on going any further. Pakistan top the standings with eight points from their four games, so are assured of their place in the semi-finals.

India, who round off their Super 12 campaign against Namibia, are now on four points, two behind New Zealand, but they have a much better run rate of 1.62 compared to 1.28 for the Black Caps, who face Afghanistan (another side on fourth points) in their last game. It is all to play for.

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    The move was widely expected and has reportedly seen Lucknow spend INR 17 crore (£1.68million) to acquire the India batsman.

    Lucknow, who have yet to reveal their full name ahead of the 2022 season, have also signed up Australian all-rounder Marcus Stoinis.

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    Lucknow team owner Sanjiv Goenka said: "KL is not only an outstanding batsman but also a great wicketkeeper.

    "Marcus is a great finisher, a good bowler and a phenomenal fielder."

    Stoinis has previously been a key figure for Delhi Capitals and Lucknow have spent INR 9.2 crore (£910,000) on the Perth man, according to the Times of India.

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    According to Cricinfo, Goenka told Star Sports: "We want players to be here for three, four, five, six, seven, eight years.

    "KL will be the captain. I have been very impressed with not only his batting and wicketkeeping, but also his leadership skills. He is evolving, growing, maturing as a leader. He is somebody I would've wanted to lead the team and I do believe that given the right atmosphere, environment, he will emerge as a remarkable leader."

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    Fellow IPL newcomers Team Ahmedabad have picked Hardik Pandya, who will be their captain, alongside Rashid Khan and Shubman Gill in their draft picks.

     

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    Rahul said: "I'm not saying it as an excuse but we haven't played 50 overs cricket in a long time. It's been tough on the body, staying in the bubbles. It's challenging, but I'm not saying we don't love challenges.

    "[We have to] look ahead to the third game and try to win that one. Maybe a few changes, may not be, I can't say."

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