Having won just a single edition of the T20 World Cup, India have one aim and just one alone and it’s not even that surprising: to win the 2022 edition of the mother of all sporting battles.
Especially after nailing down Pakistan from a literal unwinable situation, India’s self belief to win what they’d certainly like to has sprung northwards and understandably so.
So much so that in retrospect how the others have performed so far leaves some catchable perspectives.
But before we can dive into the details of how India’s chances seem at lifting the title, if at all, let’s look at how the others have fared so far:
Defending Champions Australia is holding the high voltage T20 comp this time. Though the tournament has a open look to it, the defending champions will be definitely the favourites as they know the home conditions like the back of there hands.
As neighbours, New Zealand will also be amongst the favourites. Considering the large grounds down under, the kiwis have a fine spin bowling and fielding unit.
Meanwhile, England and South Africa also have the skill sets and physicality that the shorter version of the game demands.
Pakistan will always be hot and cold with there performance but that is what makes them feel extra dangerous.
West Indies, the two times world champions as things stand have suffered an unceremonious early exit from the T20 World Cup just at the time of writing this piece at the hands of Ireland who thumped them by 9 wickets to make it to super 12s.
But having said that, let’s look at India’s chances for the upcoming World Cup.
The good, the bad! But at the same time, and luckily so, there’s no ugly for India. They are just playing so well.
Lets start with the good. How have India performed since the last World Cup in UAE, which has to be said was the one of the most forgettable World Cup for the Indian cricket team.
But that’s in the past. India haven’t lost a bilateral T20 series since the last World Cup. It is no small feat- is it?
So preparation wise, the team is fine tuned as well as they can be. As far as India’s chances in this World Cup is concerned, there hopes will definitely rest on their batting prowess. The Men in Blue have a formidable look in this department.
KL Rahul’s numbers since the last World Cup aren’t great, but you can see the intent in his style of play in the last 3-4 games. With him opening, India has good chance of making an excellent use of the power play.
Though he was a part of India’s last year World Cup team as well, but the form he is been in the last six months is nothing short of exemplary. It is easy to look at Sky’s strike rate which is at 184 is mind boggling but when combine with the average of 41 is what makes him this whirlwind batter an extraordinaire. After all, substance and speed is a great combo.
Make no mistake, the Indian batting these days revolves not around India’s two best white ball players, Rohit Sharma and Kohli but instead around Surya Kumar Yadav.
Virat Kohli too ended his century drought in the just concluded Asia Cup and it didn’t take the batting demigod to impress in this World Cup’s tournament opener against Pakistan.
Furthermore, Rohit Sharma has been a little short of runs coming into the World Cup but being the captain for the 1st time in an ICC Tournament may very well spur him for more consistency.
All rounder Hardik Pandya has also proved himself off late that he is a utility batter in the lower middle order. With great bat speed he gets the elevation and his batting skill give the much-needed impetus to the scoring rate during the slog overs. If at all, there’s one weakness in this batting line up is that there no left handed in the top 6, which means no one to take apart the left arm spinners in the opponent team. But overall, the Indian batting will still be in good hands.
However, bowling will prove to be the Achilles Heel in India’s quest for the World Cup glory.
As the saying goes, batsmen wins you matches while the bowlers wins you tournaments. Unfortunately, India have already been found out in this department in the recently concluded Asia Cup and T20 series against Australia and South Africa. India’s bowling worries have further been compounded with experienced pacer Jasprit Bumrah’s exclusion from the World Cup squad due to injury.
However, India have a good pedigree when it comes to spin department. Experienced spinners like Ashwin and Chahal will be the go to bowlers for India especially considering the size of big Australian grounds.
India have also lost an ace all rounder Ravindra Jadeja due to injury.
Apart from his effective bowling and electric fielding, the utility all-rounder was giving the much-needed balance to the team by batting aggressively lower down the order. Besides Pandya, the onus to deliver quick runs will be on Axar Patel and Deepak Hooda.
India under the helm of coach Rahul Dravid have been a beast in bilateral series since last World Cup, now the question is perhaps this:
Can the beast continue to devour others much like it chewed up archrivals Pakistan?
Or it will be a same old story where they haven’t been able to go beyond the semi finals since the 2011 ODI World Cup.
Well, if India’s batting can fire and the bowling can hold its own, then the juggernaut may well be hard to stop.