In Sep 2007, a raw talent from Ranchi was handed over the reins of a young Indian team in the 1st World T20. There were no expectations whatsoever. But after two weeks of exhilarating cricket India were crowned champions of the first T20 world cup. There were big boots to fill up, including the likes Sachin, Sourav and Rahul who were masters of the ODI cricket. Many of the topT20 stars came into limelight during the T20 World Cup. Rohit Sharma, Irfan Pathan, Yusuf Pathan , Robin Uthappa , Gautam Gambhir all came of age in that tournament and gifted us the World Cup. Now, all of them barring Rohit is out of the team. They are still big names in IPL, but in international T20 Indians have lost that grip which they once had.
Since, then India’s performances have been anything but consistent in T20s. They never reached the semi finals of any other T20 world cup. What can be the reasons? Burden of expectations can be one, but this is the team that won a World Cup Final at Wankhede. India were always vulnerable outside India, except for a brief period during Ganguly’s tenure. This time the T20 world cup is in the sub-continent but it is hard to see India winning this one. One of the major worries is Yuvraj Singh’s form. Yuvraj seems a pale shadow of his former self in the past few months. He is the guy who gave us two world cups and is now struggling for his place in the team. In sub-continent tournaments Yuvraj is a huge factor with his left arm spin and hard hitting. If India are to do well, Yuvraj has to play well. Another spark missing is Virender Sehwag, the presence of a full form Sehwag just changes the equation completely. Even if he ends up with a 20, he will score in such a fashion which will crush the opponent. Still with the likes of Shikhar Dhawan, we hope India can compensate for Sehwag at the top. Rohit Sharma’s inconsistency is another big worry. Rohit is one of those rare talents but its hard to see him perform consistently throughout the tournament. Suresh Raina had been included in the team after being dropped from Asia Cup squad. The confidence of the most prolific scorer in IPL is not that high. He ran to Dada for some tips and regain his mental strength. We all hope that we can get the same Raina during the tournament, who helped us win the World Cup Quarters and Semis in 2011. That leaves us with Virat Kohli and Dhoni, whom we can bank on anyday. The fearsome Indian batting line-up is looking far less threatening this time, so everyone have their task cut to bring back the ruthlessness.
The bowling unit is a major cause of concern. The fast bowling unit lacks pace and variety. The spinners have to take the lead role and perform flawlessly. The good thing is in sticky Bangladesh pitches spinners can call the shots. But, relying on Indian bowlers is like relying on a rudderless boat to cross the Pacific. You never know when you may founder. We can just just hope they get their act together over these two weeks.
India’s poor form in recent months is also not encouraging. Even in the recently concluded Asia Cup, Indians were far from confident. Now coming to the schedule, India is in a very tough group. With Pakistan, Australia and West Indies it will be tough to progress through to the semis. Indians are starting with Pakistanis on 21st March. That match will be a vital one, if India can stop Pakistan it will give them the necessary confidence which is required to play well consistently. Indian cricket team is never short of talent what it lacks mostly is application. We all hope that the talented bunch out there will use their brains properly and comeback triumphant.
India squad for World Twenty20 MS Dhoni (capt), Shikhar Dhawan, Rohit Sharma, Virat Kohli, Suresh Raina, Yuvraj Singh, Ajinkya Rahane, Ravindra Jadeja, R Ashwin, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Mohammed Shami, Stuart Binny, Amit Mishra, Mohit Sharma, Varun Aaron