Injured India limp to West Indies
With the Indian Premier League fever that gripped the nation for close to two months coming to an end, the focus now shifts to the Twenty20 World Cup, which kicks-off in the Caribbean later this month.
India, who also boast of being the first ever T20 world champions, go to the West Indies with the memories of the 2009 World Cup still fresh in mind, where they made an unceremonious first-round exit after being humiliated by Bangladesh.
That T20 cricket is more about big hitting and innovative batting than bowling is a fact known to all. With big-hitting Virender Sehwag out with a shoulder injury and Sachin Tendulkar not a part of the T20 squad, the onus of getting the team to winning totals will lie on the likes of skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni, Suresh Raina, Gautam Gambhir and out-of-form but ever so dangerous Yuvraj Singh.
Most of the players in the Indian squad are in the slam-bang cricket mode, having played in the IPL and would be looking forward to taking that momentum to the Caribbean. However, whether this ‘T20 experience’ proves to be a stepping stone to success, or ends in disaster like the last edition of the tournament, remains to be seen.
Looking back a few months, the team was in a similar kind of situation ahead of the T20 World Cup in England; where much to the disappointment of millions of their supporters, India could not even make it to the semis.
Like now, then too, India had flown to England just a few days after the completion of the IPL’s second season in South Africa. ‘Player fatigue’ was sighted as a major reason for India’s dismal performance. But, learning no lessons from last time, the players find themselves in the same situation…injured, bruised and desperately in need of a break.
The optimists, though, have something to cheer as India are almost certain to make it through from a group that has new-comers Afghanistan apart from South Africa as the other teams. With no practice games for them before the start of the tourney, this will give the players vital time to acclimatise themselves in the West Indian conditions.
As much as the detractors and experts criticise it, the IPL may have after-all provided a vital practice opportunity for Team India, who have played just two T20 internationals since the World Cup in England, managing a fifty percent win-loss record.
While the batting will mainly revolve around the big names such as Dhoni, Gambhir, Yuvraj, Raina, big-hitting Yusuf Pathan and the young Murali Vijay, the bowling department also looks potent in the presence of Zaheer Khan, Ashish Nehra, Praveen Kumar and Harbhajan Singh.
The only thing that remains to be seen is that how motivated and keen the players are to play and give it their highest performance after playing 50 days of non stop high-intensity cricket.
Let’s hope that the youngsters can maintain the same high standards when playing for the country’s pride that they displayed in the high-paying Indian Premier League.