Another day, another lopsided contest. India exhibited their batting depth in making light work of Zimbabwe to maintain an all-win record in the group stages. This meant India will enjoy a week off and play their knockout clash, in all likelihood against Bangladesh, in Queenstown on January 26.
With little or no pressure to contend with, India's openers treated the 155 chase as an extended net session. Shubman Gill displayed his punch and power by strolling to a 36-ball half-century, with his stability and strong bottom-hand in playing the short-arm jab for six over deep midwicket being the standout. With a few more runs to knock off, he may have had a crack at becoming India's first centurion in the tournament. He finished 90 not out courtesy 14 fours and a six.
Desai, who showed sharp reflexes and soft hands behind the stumps after coming in for Aryan Juyal, showed he was more than capable of holding his own in front of it too. By the end of it, India had not only ticked most boxes but gave themselves plenty of back-up options should they need it later in the tournament. They strolled home in 21.4 overs. This meant India and Australia were the two qualifiers from the group.
India chose to bowl against Papua New Guinea because they were mindful of the weather. Here, they wanted to bat, but lost the toss. This meant their bowlers enjoyed some excellent bowling conditions on a surface that was under the covers all of Thursday and all through the morning Friday because of heavy showers.
When play began, the showers dissipated to give way to bright sunshine. This wouldn't have been all that bad for Zimbabwe, provided they were willing to bide time. But lack of application resulted in a succession of wickets to India's left-arm spinners Anukul Roy and Abhishek Sharma.
Roy, the more conventional of the two, used his loop to deceive the batsmen in the air and finish with 4 for 20, to go along with his five-for in the previous game. The third left-arm spinner, Shiva Singh, was tight and economical, conceding only 16 off his eight overs while Riyan Parag, the offspinning-allrounder who replaced Himanshu Rana, picked one wicket.
In finishing with 1 for 17 off five overs, Parag may have also given the team management an extra bowling option going into the quarter-finals, should they look for more variety. India have another spinner in the squad, a leggie, in Pankaj Yadav who is yet to get a look-in. This alongside an already impressive pace battery of Kamlesh Nagarkoti, Shivam Mavi and the impressive Arshdeep Singh.
On the day, however, Nagarkoti was inconsistent with his lengths and struggled for rhythm. Mavi was much tighter and created opportunities with the new ball. Appreciable movement both in the air and off the pitch made him dangerous. He could have had more than the one wicket of opener Gregory Dollar, which he picked up in the third over.
Zimbabwe's only pocket of resistance came in the form of Liam Roche and Milton Shumba, who put together 49 for the fourth wicket. Roche, the captain, fought hard during his 45-ball stay, but a combination of being unable to pick lengths and playing poor strokes led to them freefalling from 110 for 3 to 154 all out.