The second semifinal of the ICC World T20 will be played today between India and West Indies at the Wankhede Stadium, Mumbai – the same place where India won the 50 over World Cup in 2011 in a thrilling game against Sri Lanka. The first semifinal has already seen an upset with an unfancied England putting it across championship contenders New Zealand. The game at Mumbai has attracted plenty of attention considering the fact that this could have easily been the lineup for the finals with both teams worthy of lifting the championship in their own right. However, now as fate would have it, one of them may have to exit the tournament at this stage.
India – A SWOT analysis
Strength: The major area of strength for India is its batting. Apart from Virat Kohli, there are the likes of MS Dhoni, who has played a good hand every now and then, and three gentlemen that go by the name of Shikhar Dhawan, Rohit Sharma, and Suresh Raina, who are capable of performing well but are yet to fire. Hardik Pandya adds a lot to the mix – he is capable of some devastating hits, good quick bowling, and athletic fielding, much in the mould of West Indies’ Andre Russell. On the bowling front all four are capable performers, a fact that is of immense relief to the skipper. Both Jadeja and Ashwin can operate with the new ball, choke runs, and pick up wickets in the middle overs. On the other hand, Nehra and Bumrah are incisive with the new ball and precise at the death. What further helps is the fielding of India, which is at par with the top fielding sides like England, Australia, New Zealand and South Africa.
Weakness: The absence of an experienced performer like Yuvraj Singh before such a crunch game will be a major blow. Apart from Dhoni and Kohli, he was the one among runs and was also picking up wickets. It remains to be seen who replaces him. Also, the openers and Raina have not fired. If Kohli failed – as he did, by his Bradmanesque standards, against Bangladesh and New Zealand – India may have a stiff challenge in its hands.
Opportunity: West Indies lost its last game against Afghanistan and so its momentum may have thawed a bit. Also, Andre Fletcher, its second-highest run-scorer is out with an injury. India needs to utilize these factors. Also, as the game against Afghanistan showed, they are a little susceptible against spin.
Testosterone factor: India has the chance to add to its silverware and this game represents the first step to that glory.
West Indies – A SWOT analysis
Strength: The biggest area of strength for the team is its immense experience in this format. Almost all the players play in the various T20 franchise tournaments around the world. Apart from that, the team has a really-powerful batting line up with the explosive Gayle and Simmons – a replacement for Fletcher – and the calm of Marlon Samuels. There are also plenty of allrounders in the team with the likes of Sammy, Dwayne Bravo, Carlos Brathwaite, and Russell bringing different qualities to the fore. On the bowling front, spinners Badree and Benn have formed an effective combination.
Weakness: Till now, the team has performed in such a dominant fashion that it is hard to point out any problem as such. However, the absence of Andre Fletcher may be felt, but even then the team has enough firepower to cover up for his absence. It is also vulnerable against high-quality spin, something that India has in abundance.
Opportunity: A number of batsmen in the Indian team are out of form and the team will also be under immense pressure to succeed in front of a home crowd. These factors could play into the Caribbeans’ hands.
Testosterone: In a recent press conference, Sammy said that it’s the 15 guys in his team versus the rest of the world. Considering the contractual controversies they have faced before the tournament this remark is not that far off from the truth.
Who will win?
On current form and on paper West Indies seem to be a better side but India’s home advantage cannot be completely disregarded. The team is peaking and might upset West Indies’ applecart. However, no matter which team wins, this will be one hell of a game for cricket lovers and in many ways will be the finest game of an otherwise insipid tournament with slow and low pitches and a few good encounters.
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