Exactly two weeks after India opened their Men's T20 World Cup campaign against Pakistan in a thrilling four-wicket victory at a sold-out Melbourne Cricket Ground, the Rohit Sharma-led side will be back at the iconic venue to seal their semifinal berth in the final Group 2 match of Super 12s against a lively Zimbabwe on Sunday.
Though India have a 5-2 edge over Zimbabwe in T20Is with their last face-off happening in 2016, it will be the first time that these two teams will be meeting in a T20 World Cup game.
While India have survived scares against Pakistan and Bangladesh, they will be fully aware that Zimbabwe can't be taken lightly. After all, the Chevrons, as Zimbabwe are called back home, did inflict an upset one-run win over Pakistan at Perth.
Known for going hard at power-play due to embracing ultra-attacking batting approach, India haven't been able to get a solid opening partnership so far in the tournament. A look at their power-play scores suggests that the side have been suffering from opening blues: 31/3 against Pakistan (MCG), 32/1 against Netherlands (SCG), 33/2 against South Africa (Perth Stadium) and 37/1 against Bangladesh at Adelaide Oval. Their highest opening partnership is just 23, which doesn't do justice to the prowess of Rohit and Rahul.
Though Rohit got a scratchy fifty against Netherlands and Rahul slammed a half-century against Bangladesh to end a string of low scores, India would like for the duo to have a good opening partnership before knockout arrive.
Virat Kohli has been explosive with the bat while Suryakumar Yadav has chipped in whenever India needed a move on in their momentum. India would also want for Hardik Pandya and Dinesh Karthik to make a sizeable contribution with lower-order power-hitting.
The bowling has been great for India barring when South Africa chased down 134 or Litton Das was putting up a show with the bat in power-play. Young left-arm pacer Arshdeep Singh is admirably leading the charge with the new ball as well as in the death overs, with the other bowlers chipping in. After being sloppy in the field against the Proteas, India were excellent in this department in a rain-hit match against Bangladesh.
Zimbabwe, on the other hand, will be aiming to finish the tournament on a high which has been a memorable one for them. In all-rounder Sikandar Raza, they have a shining sensation who has been a force behind them for sparking performances in the tournament.
They would like for captain Craig Ervine, Sean Williams, Wesley Madhevere and Ryan Burl to get big runs with the bat as well as look for improvements in fielding. In the bowling department, tall fast-bowler Blessing Muzarabani has been among the wickets with Raza, Tendai Chatara, Richard Ngarava and Luke Jongwe supporting him.
Zimbabwe have had inflicted an upset on India, when they won by three runs during the ODI World Cup in England in 1999. They would like to do an encore of it in 2022, but India have other ideas as they seek to seal semifinals spot.