Top spot sealed, quarter-final opponents 99 percent confirmed and title defence well on – India’s World Cup has gone like a breeze so far, and while it’s expected to flow the same way at Eden Park against Zimbabwe on Saturday, the real test begins only March 19.
A win against Ireland in the last game, their fifth in a row, ensured India will top Pool B irrespective of the result against Zimbabwe; and when New Zealand maintained their clean sheet in Pool A against Bangladesh, an all-Asian India-Bangladesh quarterfinal at the MCG on March 19 was more or less assured.
Why more or less? Just in case Scotland ‘hammer’ Australia to dent their net run rate so badly that it goes below that of Bangladesh’s. Highly improbable and almost impossible. But you need to give Scotland their due; that’s why 99 percent India vs Bangladesh in the quarters and 1 percent chance of that becoming India vs Sri Lanka.
But that’s for another day. On Saturday, India will be up against the Zimbabweans in what will be the last pool game for both the teams. While India will go on to play the quarters next, Zimbabwe will catch return flight to Harare as they are already out of the tournament.
For Zimbabwe, besides playing for national pride, it will be a special occasion.
Brendan Taylor, who has signed a three-year Kolpak deal with English County side Nottinghamshire, could be making the last appearance for his country. With the stint in England making Taylor ineligible to appear for his county while the contract lasts, it could well be the last time the 29-year-old batsman is seen in Zimbabwe colours.