The International Cricket Council’s flagship event World Twenty20 is all set to start, and considering the fact that the marquee event is taking place in India, Mahendra Singh Dhoni & Co certainly have a slight edge over the others. However, that’s not the only reason India are the favourites going into the tournament, where 10 teams will be fighting for the coveted trophy.
India have been in exceptional form in the shortest format since the start of the year. They have played eight matches thus far, losing just once and winning the rest by considerable margins after blanking Australia 3-0 Down Under and beating Sri Lanka 2-1 at home. Men in Blue proved their mettle in the recently concluded Asia Cup 2016 as well, where they defeated hosts Bangladesh to clinch their sixth title, in a tournament which was played for the first time in T20 format.
Many cricket pundits and most importantly the bookies too have rated India as the top contender to liftthe trophy for the second time under skipper Dhoni, eight years after he led them to their maiden World T20 title.
Most of the boxes got ticked for India ahead of the major event.
Even though everything is falling in place for Dhoni, the ‘Colonel’ and his troops still have to keep few things in mind to accomplish the mission.
Here are some factors which could hurt Team India and its World T20 campaign.
Vulnerability against pacers, moving ball: Even though India have been in exceptional form in the shortest format of late, we have witnessed how their batting collapsed against Sri Lanka on a green top in Pune. Their power-packed batting line up fell like ninepins and India got bundled out for a paltry 101. After few matches, once again Indian top-order was all at sea against Pakistan in Asia Cup, when Mohammad Amir was calling the shots. At one stage, India were reduced to 8 for 3, while chasing a small total of 83. It shows the vulnerability of Indian batsmen against quality fast bowlers and seamer-friendly wickets.
Highly unpredictable format: T20 cricket is also known as slam bang cricket. And it’s so unpredictable, that even minnows could upset the title contenders in a four-hour duel. Situations change swiftly in this format and one bad over can turn the entire complexion of the game, or for that matter, decide the winner. Reputation, past laurels or recent form don’t really matter much in this format. A team has to win seven matches at a stretch to win the tourney. It means, one loss at a crucial juncture could shatter the dreams. Even after having the favourites tag, India have to show impeccable consistency to lift the trophy as there is no room for complacency as one poor outing can prove to be costly.
Other title contenders: India are certainly the hot favourites to win the title, but other teams like Australia, South Africa and New Zealand too, are the likely contenders to raise the honour. Keeping the format in mind, one can’t even underestimate the West Indies, who boast of certain players that are masters of this format. And if they play to their true potential, Pakistan could also emerge as a threat, as the tournament is taking place in sub-continent.
Injury concerns: Team India’s playing XI is almost decided and Dhoni has made it pretty clear by playing the same set of people, ahead of World T20. But injuries could put India in spot of bother and might mar their chances of lifting the coveted trophy. Indian skipper suffered muscle spasm in the Asia Cup, which is certainly not a good sign for the team. Premier bowler Mohammed Shami is also making a comeback after a prolonged injury. A niggle forced opener Shikhar Dhwan to sit out in a high-profile clash against Pakistan in Asia Cup. Ageing Ashish Nehra is one of the most fragile and injury-prone bowlers in the world. Considering all this, team management and staff have to make sure all players remain in good shape throughout India’s World T20 campaign.