Former Indian speedster Zaheer Khan has lauded New Zealand's fighting spirit in a tightly-contested encounter against Pakistan on Tuesday. Khan, 43, asked T20 World Cup 2021 India squad to be wary of New Zealand's challenge, when the two sides will face each other on October 31.
The Kiwis lost their opening game of the T20 World Cup 2021 against Pakistan by five wickets on Tuesday (October 26). Pakistan's lethal bowling unit restricted the Blackcaps to a below-par total of 134/8 runs in the first innings.
However, an inspired bowling and fielding effort by the Kiwis didn't make it easy for Babar Azam's side and gave them a run for their money during the chase.
While speaking to Cricbuzz, Zaheer Khan praised how Kane Williamson's side never lose their hopes and want to win every game they play.
"One thing is sure is that New Zealand wants to win every match and have great enthusiasm," he said. "Yes, the Pakistan result didn't go their way, but the fight that they showed was brilliant. They didn't score many runs in the first innings, but the effort that they put in the bowling and fielding, states that they never ever lose their hope. And India should be wary about it."
Prior to New Zealand's defeat, Pakistan beat their arch-rivals India in a comprehensive fashion on October 24. This was the first time in T20Is that Pakistan had won a game with 10 wickets in hand.
Get the updated T20 World Cup 2021 points table here.
India against New Zealand will be a do-or-die encounter: Zaheer Khan
Following Pakistan's second victory in the ongoing T20 World Cup 2021, they have, in all probability, sealed their place in the semi-finals of the competition.
With only two teams to qualify from one group, the fight for the second spot would be majorly between India and New Zealand.
While interacting with Cricbuzz, Zaheer Khan underlined the importance of winning momentum, especially in a major tournament like the World Cup. Khan opined that, despite their shaky start, if India play to their potential, no other T20 World Cup teams will find it easy to stand against them.
"We all know that if India plays to their potential, no team will find it easy to stand against," he said. "It is always important for a side to catch up the winning momentum at the earliest, especially in the World Cup. This time India have lost their first match and should make sure it isn't too late. The next game against New Zealand is a do or die one."
The India vs New Zealand game, which could potentially be a 'virtual quarter-final', will be played at the Dubai International Stadium on October 31. The detailed T20 World Cup New Zealand schedule is available here.