The emergence of India as an economic superpower in the world of Cricket has given rise to multifarious dimensions to the ways India is viewed and even eulogized. Apart from its financial might, India’s rise as a formidable opponent in overseas conditions in Test Cricket over the last five years has perhaps filled the missing block in India’s history as a successful Cricketing nation. The proclivity towards doing the ‘unimaginable’ has naturally jettisoned India to an extremely elevated plane of greatness.
So, when one casts a keen eye at India’s record in ICC tournaments since the victory at the 2013 Champions Trophy played in England & Wales, one is bound to be perplexed. In fact, India’s aptitude for producing miracles in Test Cricket has only made India’s inability to do the ‘expected’ in ICC tournaments an embarrassing proposition for the richest Cricketing Board in the world that flexes its powerful muscles whenever it deems necessary.
Ian Chappell, a plucky Cricketing character who’s known for his habit of ‘calling a spade a spade’ has also touched upon the fact that India’s supremacy in world Cricket can be nurtured or relinquished by India itself. The awe inspiring victories in Brisbane, Lord’s and The Oval are mere reflections of India’s readiness to accomplish the improbable with relative ease.
Also, India has always been the centre of attraction in all major ICC tournaments.
But, what about winning those tournaments?
India has a strange habit of being the cynosure of all eyeballs and playing outstanding Cricket in the league stages of ICC tournaments but they fail to do the ‘expected’ when it matters the most.
Is it a matter of being consumed in one’s own greatness?
The defeats in the high-pressure matches against Sri Lanka in the final of the 2014 T20 World Cup, 2015 World Cup Semi-Final against Australia, 2016 T20 World Cup semi-final against the West Indies, 2017 Champions Trophy final against arch-rivals Pakistan, 2019 World Cup semi-final against New Zealand and finally the defeat against New Zealand in the World Test Championship final against our familiar stumbling block, the Kiwis have made it certain that the defeats are less of an aberration and more of a habit of failing to deliver the knockout punch.
So, India has a great opportunity to set the record straight by winning the ICC Men’s T20 World Cup 2021 to be played in the UAE. As scenes of Carlos Brathwaite raising a hurricane against England in the final of the 2016 edition at Kolkata set against the backdrop of the iconic voice of Ian Bishop surge back into mind, the time is ripe to resume familiar battles in a familiar format in a tournament that would get back its lost glory only if India manages to win it. A careful analysis would help in deciphering India’s chances in the marquee tournament.
Players to watch out for
From being a prodigious talent to India’s most bankable player in all formats in all conditions; India’s ‘hitman‘ has had a sensational career in International Cricket. Rohit’s ability to take on the bowlers in the Power play and his responsible approach towards batting has made him a dangerous T20 batsman. His indifferent form in the IPL 2021 would hardly make opposition bowlers complacent.
His ability to attack spinners gives India the biggest advantage while setting targets and chasing them. Rohit would surely be carrying the burden of India’s batting in the upcoming World Cup.
K L Rahul
K L Rahul has a knack of playing breathtaking shots which outclasses even Rohit Sharma and Virat Kohli. The right-hander has the ability to maximise the Power play overs by playing attacking Cricket. Though, at times he fails to keep up with the scoring rate and gets dismissed frequently against spinners. Rahul had a great IPL but on certain occasions he failed to score at a decent rate especially in the middle overs.
Rahul and Virat Kohli would be instrumental in making the middle-overs meaningful for India without letting the run rate go down. India would want Rahul to be at his fluent best without being bogged down which would make the job of Suryakumar Yadav and Rishabh Pant easier.
Jasprit Bumrah has always been India’s trump card in big ICC tournaments. His economy rate of only 6.67 in T20 internationals has naturally made him the spearhead of India’s bowling. Along with Bhuvaneshwar Kumar, Bumrah can provide India with the initial breakthroughs and also stifle the opposition in the death overs with his array of variations. With Hardik Pandya’s availability as a bowler doubtful, the onus would be on Bumrah to step up and make the difference.
Ravindra Jadeja is certainly the most improved cricketer for India in the last three years. He has the ability to break crucial partnerships and also score quick runs at the end of a T20 innings. Jadeja, along with Hardik Pandya, would play a crucial role in decimating the bowlers in the slog overs.
His exceptional fielding skills also make him a versatile cricketer and an absolute match winner.
The choice of Shardul Thakur as a ‘player to watch out for’ would surely raise many eyebrows but a queer Cricketing intuition allows him to be a dark horse in the Indian revised squad for the World Cup. He has an interesting knack of picking up wickets and would be a good pick in the playing XI who’s ideally suited for number 8. He also possesses the ability to hit lusty blows while maintaining perfect body shape. If only, he manages to find a spot in the playing XI, he can be the X-factor for India with both bat and ball.
The exclusion of Yuzvendra Chahal has been the biggest talking point . He bowled beautifully in the IPL and would consider himself unlucky as he missed out on the chance to take advantage of spin friendly conditions and big boundaries in the UAE.
With Rahul Chahar picked over Chahal, he would be vying for a prominent place in the playing XI. Ravichandran Ashwin’s insipid T20 form in the IPL would make the team management slightly worried as he’s an experienced player and is making a comeback after a much controversial hiatus.
Team India’s hopes in the tournament would also depend upon the possibility of scoring freely in the slog overs and the power play overs which hardly match the standards set up by the unconventional and maverick batting by batsmen from England and West Indies.
Amidst all the losses in ICC tournaments over the last seven years, the focus was always on Virat Kohli. His brilliance in the last T20 World Cup in 2016 was hardly matched by the others. So, Virat Kohli deserves the limelight to be shifted away from him in this tournament which would surely work to India’s advantage.
The time for redemption is now.
Only if, Team India could do what those expect a powerhouse of world cricket to achieve.