Home favourite India’s path to World T20 at Eden Gardens
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Home favourite India’s path to World T20

The sixth edition of World T20 has created enthusiasm in every nook and corner of India. India, the champion of Asia Cup T20, launched their campaign in ICC’s most demanding format T20. Mighty Indian team who lost only one match in their recent 11 matches defeated West Indies in their warm-up match that helped Indian players to get into the groove of World T20 2016.

India being the home favourite of the tournament will be the team to watch out for. With a balanced team, it is expected that India will reach the final. However, it will not be as easy as we anticipate.

India will face hurdles from the beginning of their stage two match against New Zealand on March 15. Here is India’s way out to the final which will be held in Kolkata. The Indian Premier League experience of other teams will be India’s biggest enemy on the road to final.

Hurdles in group phase:

Indians are featured in a group of death with New Zealand, Pakistan, Australia and the qualifier of group  A. Bangladesh and Oman will fight for one berth remaining. The biggest challenge India will face from New Zealand and Australia.

The flying Kiwi can shock India. The New Zealand team is balanced with hitters like Colin Munro and all-rounder Corey Anderson and fast seaming bowlers like Adam Milne and Tim Southee. So in the inaugural match of World T20 India will have an uphill task as New Zealand will pose a mountainous challenge at Vidarbha Cricket Association Ground, Nagpur. New Zealand in their first warm-up match scored 226 as Munro hit a 14 ball fifty and Anderson  hammered rattled Sri Lankan bowlers.  Indian spinners will be the trump card of MS Dhoni against New Zealand. The Kiwi players, who have experience of IPL, love to play fast bowler, but they have the weakness against the spinners. India have to produce electrifying fielding as well to match New Zealand’s calibre.

India will blow away their arch enemy: India’s next big match will be against arch nemesis Pakistan. After a few hustle bustle, Pakistan agreed to come in India. The venue for the Indo-Pak match also shifted to Eden Gardens, Kolkata from Dharamshala as Himachal Pradesh government opposed the match due to security concern. India Recently humiliated Pakistan in the Asia Cup T20. Indian bowlers were too strong for Pakistan as they were toppled for mere 83. However, it doesn’t a matter how the teams are. This match has already created  a buzz among the fans of Kolkata.

On paper, Pakistan are not a strong team, at least in terms of batting, but Pakistan have a good bowling department. Mohammad Amir will be the man to watch out. Toss will make a big difference like the Asia Cup match. India also have never won a match against Pakistan at Eden Gardens, at the same time Pakistan have won a match against India in World T20. India will have the upper hand in the match as 65000 partisan crowd will cheer for India.

The most remarkable match on the card: Australia also settled down as they defeated South Africa, one of the tournament favourites, in a three-match series. Australian batsmen like Shane Watson and Steve Smith are outstanding player of Indian spin and fast bowler. The Aussies recently lost to India 3-0 at their home. However that Australian team and the current Australian have totally changed as David Warner, Steve Smith and Josh Hazlewood have come in.  They also have players like Glenn Maxwell, who can give nightmare to any bowling department in any day. David Warner is another bloke who loves hit the blowers will come in the middle of the innings. Most of the Australian batsmen have IPL experience and understand characteristics of Indian pitches and ground conditions. So these things will help then to draw a plan to upset the home side. But, unlike the New Zealand bowlers, this Australian squad does not have good bowlers who could trouble in-form Indian batsmen.

Indian bowlers have to a bowl in a channel to keep Australian batsmen in check, and batsmen will be key against them, so Indian batsmen like Rohit Sharma, Virat Kohli, Suresh Raina and Yuvraj Singh have to fire against the Australians to keep the winning streak intact.

The last match will be against either Oman or Bangladesh who will not pose as a big channel as Australia and New Zealand.

Biggest dispute: It is expected that India will reach the semifinal topping the stage 2. And South Africa will be group top of Stage one. So, India may face inexperienced England or West Indies if any of them finish the stage one at the second position. England will not be a big challenge for India as most of their batsmen don’t have experience of Indian conditions and they have never played India in any competition since 2014 World T20 in any T20 match. So, India will have good chance to qualify for final. But if West Indies qualify for semi final India have reasons to concern about. West Indies have a hard hitter Chris Gayle who can alone rob India’s hope of winning the World T20. But, Gayle has a problem of playing good Yorker. So, Jasprit Bumrah and Mohammed Shami will be big weapons for Indian captain MS Dhoni.

However, if India fail to top the stage one  then they may have to face South Africa, the second best favourite team after India in the World T20. South Africa defeated India in a three-match series in September. And JP Duminy, Dale Steyn, AB de Villiers, David Miller, Quinton de Kock are key players of their IPL franchises respectively. So, they will pose an immense challenge at familiar conditions. South Africa may end India’s World T20 campaign and break hearts of one billion cricket fans.  JP Duminy said, ‘Indian conditions no more foreign to us because of IPL”. He further added that “Not one side can potentially win” this World T20. His statement made it clear that South Africa confident and can bring the biggest upset in the World T20 defeating India.

However, India have gotten a team comprised of batsmen like Rohit Sharma, Shikhar Dhawan, MS Dhoni, Suresh Raina and Yuvraj Singh can post a massive total batting first or have the capability to chase down a big total with power hitting. And Indian bowlers are totally different from the one last played against South Africa. So bowlers like Jasprit Bumrah and Mohammed Shami  will be the main trump cards while Ravichandran Ashwin will have to come up with a brilliant performance.

Young boy Hardik Pandya can play the role cameo to put India in the final.

However, India’s road to the final will be thorny as massive challenges on the road to final from other teams will try to  derail their journey. Though victory in each match will make Indian team strong stronger  and strongest till the April 3 grand finale comes on.

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