Virat Kohli running out of options with India down and almost out of T20 World Cup

Favourites and tournament 'hosts' need a miracle to qualify for the next stage after heavy defeat to New Zealand

Virat Kohli and millions of cricket fans were left scratching the heads after another thrashing at the T20 World Cup in the UAE left India on the brink of an early exit.

India were stunned at the start of their campaign last week as a charged-up Pakistan team registered their first ever win in a World Cup match against their rivals - and that too by 10 wickets.

India's next match was on Sunday - seven days later. By that time, Pakistan and England had already registered three wins out of three in their respective groups.

Their match against New Zealand had 'do-or-die' written all over it. But Kohli's team, incredibly, capitulated even more spectacularly to lose by eight wickets and more than five overs to spare, all but ending any hopes of making it to the semi-finals.

Mathematically, India are still not out of the tournament yet. First they need to win all their remaining matches - one of them against an in-form Afghanistan - by big margins. And then hope New Zealand and Afghanistan do them a favour by not having more wins, in order to force a tie on net run rate. Which is another way to say that India are on their way out, if not already there.

Captain Kohli tried to remain optimistic, though. "There's only one way to play T20 cricket - you have to be optimistic, you have to be positive, and take calculated risks. That's what this format is all about," the star batsman said.

"I think we'll be fine. There's a lot of cricket in this tournament and something that we all must look forward to. Certainly the team must look forward to and go with a positive frame of mind."

Those words lacked any real weight behind them. As Kohli himself admitted, India's approach as a whole was bizarre, with the body language of players particularly alarming.

"I thought we were to be very brutal upfront. I don't think we were brave enough with the bat or ball," he said.

"With the ball obviously we didn't have much to play with. But we were just not brave enough in our body language when we entered the field.

"New Zealand had that intensity in their body language and they created pressure on us from the first over onwards and continued that through the innings."

India's bowling has lacked any bite while their batsmen, who did at least score 151 against Pakistan, fell apart against a New Zealand attack that has become a nightmare for them at ICC events. That the Indians did not hit a boundary between the sixth and the 17 over against the Kiwis, or that they took a total of two wickets in two games shows how far behind the game India had fallen.

India's next match is against Afghanistan on Wednesday. And given the scare they gave Pakistan, the Afghans start just ahead of India in terms of bowling resources and batting form. All of this after two 20-over matches.

Updated: November 1st 2021, 11:46 AM