The 2016 ICC Twenty 20 World Cup is going to be the first major cricketing event in the country after the 2011 World Cup. During the 2011 tournament India was regarded as one of the favourites on the basis of the-then form and strength of personnel in the team. In the end, the tournament ended memorably for the hosts with MS Dhoni lifting the Cup following a memorable final against continental rivals Sri Lanka. This time too there are a lot of expectations from the team. The official broadcasters for the tournament have already started adding fuel to the fire in their inimitable style with plenty of advertisements, a couple of which feature the Indian captain smiling at us from the TV screens and asking how we are getting ready for the tournament.
From a cricketing point of view the Indian team has been in good form and T20 like any other format of cricket – in spite of its sheer unpredictability – does have a good allowance for form. The good run for the Indian team started with the tour in Australia where they defeated the hosts in all three T20 games convincingly. Back home, the team lost the first match to Sri Lanka on a green top but proceeded to vanquish the opponents in the other couple of games and take the series in the process. At the time of writing, it has comfortably won the first game in Asia Cup against Bangladesh, which is always a good team in this format, especially at home. India has been in form. Even experts such as Wasim Akram and Dean Jones have said that India is indeed one of the favourites to win the tournament.
A brief overview of the team
One look at the Indian team and anyone will say batting is the team’s strength. Rohit Sharma is right now in excellent form and thanks to his class and capabilities is appearing to rival the likes of AB de Villiers of late. He is easily the go-to-guy as far as batting is concerned. The lineup also features Virat Kohli, Shikhar Dhawan, Ajinkya Rahane, Suresh Raina, Yuvraj Singh and MS Dhoni. The first three will be responsible to get the team off to a good start while the latter three will be responsible for finishing the innings on a great note.
As many would know, MSD has been effusive in praising Hardik Pandya and there is some good reason for that. Pandya, the only seam-bowling allrounder in the team, is more than just a bits-and-pieces player. He is destructive with the bat as he has shown on the brief occasions when he has batted, is good enough for Dhoni to trust him as the first change seamer, and his athleticism enables him to field at any position. On the bowling front, the new ball pairing of Ashish Nehra and Jaspreet Bumrah has eased many headaches of Dhoni. Both are quick and are also able to vary their pace at will. More than that, they are incisive with the new ball and exceptional at death, which has been an Achilles’ heel for India over the years. It is not known if Shami will play or not but if he does India will have the most complete seam attack in the tournament. Not much needs to be said about the two Ravis – Ashwin and Jadeja. They are able and proven performers on the world stage and will have commendable backup in the likes of Harbhajan Singh, still regarded by the likes of Saqlain Mushtaq as the best spinner in India, and Pawan Negi, the surprise packet in the Jadeja mould who is yet to play a game for the national team.
India’s chances against countries with superior bowling attack
The green top at Pune laid bare the problems with Indian batting. Even in the first game of the Asia Cup, which is being played on a green top at Mirpur, the Indian batsmen were not at their free scoring best early on. Some adjustments had to be made before they could express themselves freely. So, in case any such wicket comes up during the tournament itself then Indians may have some problems considering the fact that almost all other teams in the tournament have more seamers in their kitties and they will pose problems for the team. India, though, does have the bowling to excel in such conditions. However, the tournament will most likely have pitches that aid spin and that will play right into the hands of the batsmen who will get pitches where they can play their strokes through the line without worrying about swing or movement. India also has the best spinning line up in the championship, which will enable the team to make the most of conditions on offer from a bowling perspective.