ICC World Twenty20: India banking on spinners for second title

Before the start of the fifth-edition of the ICC World Twenty20, Group 2 was considered the ‘group of death’. With teams like Pakistan, Australia, India, West Indies and Bangladesh (who joined the pool after qualifying for the top 10), it was certainly a difficult draw.

Not even the staunchest fans of Indian cricket would have thought that the ‘Men in Blue’ would reach the semifinal of the World Twenty20 by thrashing all the four teams in their group. But Team India did it. And they did it in style!

India was the first team to book a berth in the semi-final by winning their first three games comprehensively. The MS Dhoni-led side reached this far in the coveted T20 World Cup, for the first time since 2007, when they went on to win the inaugural tournament.

The resurgent India have won against all odds and have proved why they are still a force to reckon with, especially when it comes to the shortest format of the game. So far in the tournament, Dhoni & Co. haven’t faced much difficulty. Credit goes to Indian bowlers, especially spinners. To be more precise, R Ashwin and Amit Mishra.

When it comes to bowling, both the spinners are totally in contrast with each other. Ashwin is tall and is an unorthodox off-spinner. On the other hand, diminutive Mishra is a leg-break bowler. In the shortest format, Ashwin is more comfortable and effective with the new ball, whereas, Mishra loves to bowl in the middle and death overs. While Ashwin has the backing of the skipper Dhoni, Mishra is still working on his image building.

The only common factor between them, especially in this tournament, is that they bowled outstandingly well to win two Man of the Match awards, apiece on the trot.

Amit Mishra has certainly come-out as a surprise package for India in this tournament. The 31-year-old has lot of variations up his sleeves. But his biggest asset is the ability to read the mind of a batsman, which makes him standout from the rest. It shows that the Haryana spinner has worked really hard over the years and now it’s time for him to let the ball do the talking for him. The leggie has certainly come of age.

Let’s get back to the on-going World Twenty20. Along with India, the other teams who have made the cut in the semis are Sri Lanka, South Africa and defending champions West Indies. Now, to reach the finals India will have to beat the Proteas, when both the teams lock horns on Friday at Shere Bangla National Stadium, Mirpur.

India will once again rely on their spinners. It would be a right approach due to two reasons. First and foremost, Indian spinners are high on confidence and on top of it India have three front-line spinners in Ashwin, Mishra and Ravindra Jadeja. Other than that, South Africa are not very comfortable against spin bowling. So, India, the only unbeaten team in this edition, would certainly try to fire on all cylinders in their next game against the Faf du Plessis-led side.

However, while India would be the favourites to win the match against South Africa, one can’t take the Proteas lightly as they have a long-list of match-winners in their side. Especially, players like Dale Steyn, AB de Villiers Hashim Amla and in-form Jean-Paul Duminy and Imran Tahir are capable of changing the course of the game single-handedly.

So in the battle between the two powerhouses, it would be interesting to see whether South African batsmen are able to tackle the quality Indian spin attack, or Indian tweakers continue their brilliant show in the series.