India will have to be clinical to tame the conquerors of Pakistan Zimbabweand qualify for the semifinals as team leader
MELBOURNE: The batting area at the MCG is one of a kind: open to the public and visible from the street, it is a deep arena accessible from a lower level of the ground.
Once the players are in it, they are caged. And if that team is India, you can bet cricketers will be surrounded by hundreds of screaming fans trying to grab attention and get a glimpse of their favorite stars.


Add a couple of dozen journalists, youtubers and cricket fans to the mix and suddenly the practice is elevated to performance art. Every move is scrutinized. Every bad blow is met with howls. Within the MCG networks, there is nowhere to hide.
Saturday it happened Virat Kohli’s birthday and Melbourne’s teenage diaspora came out en masse to visit him. Some had lunch baskets in tow, fully prepared for a long wake. As Virat pounded, chants of “Happy birthday dear Virat” rang out over and over again, with cheers and cheers and some enthusiastic applause. Kohli acknowledged fans once or twice, raising his hand or glancing at a particularly vocal group, but there were simply too many. Instead, Virat did what he rarely does to the nets: every now and then he forced the omnipresent crowd of “want-six” with a particularly formidable blow, much to everyone’s delight.
Virat, after cutting the cake in the morning with his team members and cutting a second one with the media staff later on the ground, will know the icing on the cake around the corner: India needs a win against it. Zimbabwe here on Sunday to advance to the semi-finals, and Rohit Sharma and his teammates are hoping Kohli’s romance at MCG will continue.


A washout and split points will also mean India’s advancement, but messy equations are best avoided.
It was against Pakistan here that India’s stellar hitter came out at full throttle, playing a special shot to announce his intentions in this World Cup. It will be a shame if the tournament’s most prolific and most popular cricketer is not in attendance for the MCG final on November 13th.
This is, however, jumping the gun. For now, the Zimbabwean hurdle must be overcome. Under normal circumstances, beating Zimbabwe wouldn’t be such a tedious task, but this is T20, the stakes are higher as the World Cup nears the end of business, and Zimbabwe has built a reputation for having upset the apple cart in this tournament. Having already escaped from prison against Bangladesh once, India will want to be ruthless here.


Asked what kind of approach India had in mind for this potential banana peel encounter, spinner Ravichandran Ashwin said: “Simple. We have to be clinical, as clinical as possible. We know that no team is a pushover. You still have to go in there, counter the initial rhythm with the club and still throw good balls in order to generate pressure.
“It’s a race to win. Good teams will be clinical and put pressure on these days. Zimbabwe has played wonderful cricket, so we can’t go there and expect it to crumble. ”
To reinforce the MCG pacy joke, will India tinker with the combination again and give Deepak Hooda a game? This is the only remaining piece of the puzzle as India hits the reset button here before the bigger challenges in the knockout stages.


Zimbabwe has already caused a great deal of upset, beating Pakistan and getting so close to Bangladesh before inexplicably losing to the Netherlands to ruin their chances. “We have been quite fragile with our batting during this tournament,” their coach Dave Houghton he had said after the defeat against the Dutch. “It was our bowling and our fielding that kept us in it.”
Captain Craig Ervine acknowledged Sikander Raza he should have taken the lion’s share of racing. “It’s such a quick turnaround in this tournament. The defeat against Bangladesh was very disappointing for being so close. . . you sit and think, maybe we were destined not to win that game, “Ervine said.

“Sikandar Raza was exceptional and we will need that kind of performance against India. The victory against Pakistan made us believe that we can beat any team in this tournament ”.
Of course, there is also the option of packing Virat Kohli’s wicket! “How many times do you have the opportunity to put Virat Kohli in your pocket? I’m pretty sure our fast bowlers will be looking forward to leaving tomorrow. ”

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