This article was first published on Thirdmancricket.com
With India already making it through to the quarter finals at the top of the group and Zimbabwe already knocked out of the World Cup, there is not much at stake in this match. Zimbabwe have a last chance to show that they are still in the big league with a strong performance against the reigning world champions. Zimbabwe have had a real mixed bag throughout this world cup, with very strong performances with the bat by Brendan Taylor and Sean Williams, but the bowling has completely disappointed. Although the Zimbabwean bowling as a unit started off pretty well against the South Africans, the late onslaught from Miller and Duminy completely left them demoralized. And then came the Gayle blitzkrieg, a destructive 215! The biggest disappointment for the Zimbabwe team has to be the close encounter with Ireland, which they eventually lost by 5 runs. With just one win over UAE, the team surely wants to give a strong performance against India, and give a fitting farewell to Brendan Taylor.
India on the other hand, have completely changed the outlook of the World Cup. After a miserable tour of Australia, they have reversed their fortunes with strong performances in all games. Having won all the games including against pre-tournament favorites South Africa, India has stamped its authority on this world cup and has made it clear that they are not going to give back the coveted prize cheaply. The bowling as a unit has stepped up their game and made it very easy for the strong batting line up to play their natural game. Mohammed Shami has played the senior role (in the absence of Ishant) and has spearheaded the pace attack. He has had a fabulous world cup so far with 12 wickets. Ashwin too has bowled exceedingly well, with excellent control, flight and wonderful variations. The bowler who has really come of age is Mohit Sharma, who has been central to the Indians keeping the pressure in the middle overs. With the bowling in place, the strong batting line up has delivered exactly what they promised. With two hundreds by Dhawan, a hundred by Kohli, and runs for Rohit, Rahane, Raina, and Dhoni, the batting looks dangerous. The one disappointment thus far has been the performances of Ravindra Jadeja, who I am sure is looking forward to this opportunity to get some runs and wickets.
India would like to continue their winning run as they prepare to face Bangladesh in the quarterfinals. This is going to be a very hard game for the Zimbabwean side who face the challenge of a very strong Indian team that looks determined to retain the World Cup. We may be in for a run feast at Eden Park, if India bat first.
Ritam is an author and contributor for Third Man Cricket.