Out of semi-final contention, India aim to give Kohli a fitting captaincy farewell

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07 Nov 2021 | 04:20 PM
authorAnirudh Suresh

Out of semi-final contention, India aim to give Kohli a fitting captaincy farewell

Monday’s clash against Namibia will be Virat Kohli’s final match as the captain of the T20I side

When the T20 World Cup schedule was finalized after the conclusion of Round 1, a vast majority expected the India vs Namibia clash on the 8th of November to be a dead rubber. 

India, everyone assumed, would have sealed semi-final qualification by then, while no one expected Namibia to still be in contention for the knockouts during the final matchday. As it has turned out, this intuition was not wrong. Monday’s clash between India and Namibia is indeed going to be the dead-est of dead rubbers.

There is one major difference, though. Monday’s clash is going to be a dead rubber because it will feature two sides that have already been knocked out of the competition. 

India needed Afghanistan to get the better of New Zealand in Abu Dhabi to stay alive in this T20 World Cup, but a clinic from the BlackCaps on Sunday has ensured that the Men in Blue, in a day’s time, will be packing their bags and going back home. Now, this is a twist no one saw coming.

There is no harm in going ahead and using the clichéd phrase that India will be ‘playing for pride’ against Namibia. But there is, in fact, a better and more relevant context to Monday’s encounter: the Namibia game will be Virat Kohli’s final match as the T20I skipper of India. 

And without a doubt, the entire unit will be motivated to ensure that they send their skipper off on a positive note. Kohli’s only T20 World Cup as captain did not go the way he or the side would have expected, but the fact remains that, under his leadership, the team has had many memorable wins across the world, albeit in bilateral tournaments. 

As harsh as may it sound, perhaps a dominant victory on Monday might be the fitting end to Kohli’s T20I, and maybe even white-ball, captaincy: ruthless and invincible in inconsequential encounters; listless and frail when the heat is on. 

Can Namibia’s sea of left-armers keep India quiet up-front?

The losses against Pakistan and New Zealand left India with no option but to bat with intent in the following two matches, and that almost seemed to liberate the batters. Unshackled by the situation, the Indian batters, particularly the openers, against both Afghanistan and Scotland, batted as if they were possessed and bludgeoned every ball that was even slightly misdirected. 

With nothing left to play for, we can perhaps expect them to walk out with a similar mindset against Namibia, but to replicate it will be something easier said than done. For thus far in this World Cup, Namibia have been one of the best bowling sides in the first half of games. 

In this Super 12 stage so far, Namibia are only one of three sides to have maintained an ER lower than 6.00 inside the first 10 overs, and are in fact only marginally behind England’s 5.7. They are low on the wickets column, but there has been no shortage of discipline.


And this has been enabled by their sea of left-arm seamers, in particular the duo of Ruben Trumpelmann and JJ Smit. Trumpelmann and Smit, between them in the Super 12 stage, have bowled 16 overs in the first half of the game and have conceded at just 5.12 an over. In fact, this number further drops to 4.58 versus right-handers.

Both Rohit and Rahul have struck at just over 120 in T20s against left-arm seamers since last year, but Rohit, notably, has been vulnerable to left-arm pace for the good part of half-a-decade. Since 2016, the 34-year-old averages just under 24 against left-arm seamers in T20 cricket, but has been dismissed a staggering 20 times in 65 innings (once per 18 balls).


It would, therefore, be interesting to see if India try to be slightly more cautious up-front. It will be an approach that will make total sense too, for Namibia are at their most vulnerable towards the back end of the innings: in this Super 12 stage, Namibia’s ER of 9.7 in overs 11-20 is the worst among all teams. 

One final chance for the Namibian batters to showcase their talent

When Namibia, led by a sensational knock from skipper Gerhard Erasmus, completed a perfect chase against Ireland to seal Super 12 qualification, expectations were high. They were, at the very least, expected to compete with the bat in the Super 12 stage, not least because of the firepower they possessed. 

But, so far at least, reality has been grim. No batter barring David Wiese has averaged over 26 in the Super 12 stage, with the biggest disappointment of the lot being skipper Erasmus, who has accumulated just 34 runs from 4 outings. The Namibian batters have simply not done justice to their talent.

Monday’s clash against India, then, will be a golden opportunity for Erasmus & Co. to give a good account of themselves. 

It won’t be easy by any means, however. India will enter the encounter fresh off a rout against Scotland, having bowled the Scottish out for a mere 85, and Namibia have also struggled against spin. So far in this Super 12 stage, Namibia’s SR of 104.8 against spinners is the third-worst amongst all teams, behind West Indies and Australia. Their balls-per-boundary figure of 10.9 is the worst in the entire competition.

With India once again expected to field three spinners, Namibia will have their work cut out with the bat in Dubai. 

Probable XIs

India: KL Rahul, Rohit Sharma, Virat Kohli (c), Suryakumar Yadav, Rishabh Pant (wk), Hardik Pandya, Ravindra Jadeja, Ravichandran Ashwin, Varun Chakaravarthy, Mohammed Shami, Jasprit Bumrah

Namibia: Stephan Baard, Craig Williams, Gerhard Erasmus (c), David Wiese, JJ Smit, Zane Green (wk), Michael van Lingen, Karl Birkenstock, Jan Nicol Loftie-Eaton, Ruben Trumpelmann, Bernard Scholtz

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India vs NamibiaICC World Twenty20, 2021IndiaNamibiaRuben TrumpelmannJJ SmitKL RahulRohit SharmaVirat KohliGerhard ErasmusDavid Wiese

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