What is so unique about Kiwi? They expose your weakness, they make you appear under-prepared, they deny you the glory on the bigger stage but still are not treated as enemies.
Let’s start from 2019. That’s when Kane Williamson didn’t allow odds-favorite India to reach the ODI World Cup Final. Next year, 2020, India travels to the distant island, only to come back losing. More recently, in 2021, the friendly Little People of cricket prevented Virat Kohli & Co from winning the inaugural World Test Championship. 3 years, 3 heartbreaking losses and 300 reasons for New Zealand to face the wrath of a billion.
But is Williamson targeted by the Bharat army in the stadiums? Does he get booed when he shows up for SSR? Is he on the results list of these heinous trolls? Are we even giving New Zealand those cliché titles as rivals, nemesis, or team bogey? No, none of the above.
They remain the second favorite team in the world. For the current group of Indian cricketers, this is a team they think they can beat but by which they are invariably beaten.
New Zealand’s greatest strength is its ability to downplay its strength. Even in their most crushing victory, they remain graceful. Chivalry does not allow rivals to get angry and take revenge. Their low-key, almost desolate walk to the finish line makes the tail group feel like they were still in the contest and it was just a bad day at the office that took a toll on the result.
So here we are again facing the dangerously deceptive enemy. India, exhausted and exhausted after losing Pakistan, now realize that they face New Zealand in another high-stakes game. On Sunday the two play a virtual quarter-final, a match where India, as in the past, will desperately try not to be exposed and avoid another big one in an ICC event.
The signs are not good. In the 2019 World Cup semi-finals, New Zealand laid bare India’s lopsided hitting roster. The WTC was lost because Williamson understood the terrain and conditions better than Kohli. India will enter the field again on Sunday with an injury discovered and unattended problems. Who beats at # 7? Who will be the sixth bowler? Does it have to be Hardik or will they go for Shardul?
Chamik Chakrabarty, diligently following India to the United Arab Emirates, has the answers.
While India hunted silver in the field, elsewhere the BCCI landed gold. The addition of two new teams to the IPL and the enticing auction offers highlighted the evolution of the cricket ecosystem. The expansion will result in a longer tournament that will eat into the teams’ international itinerary. As the T20 becomes more profitable for officials and players, other formats will suffer. The tests might still survive, but the other older and longer white ball format, ODIs, might die out.
Devendra Pandey raised some red flags on the day of the auction. Both relating to conflict of interest – Sourav Ganguly’s involvement in a football club and The association of CVC Capital with the betting industry.
And finally, the story of the week. The one who starts conversations and shoots to the heart. A mother came home with a deep cut on her cheek and her two toddlers and her husband celebrated. This seemingly unlikely scenario is a matter of routine at the home of Meena Rani, national boxing champion and mother of two.
Old wounds, deep cuts and a team that kills with benevolence, this is the week in a nutshell. Send comments and keep reading.
National sports editor