The recent India- Sri Lanka T20I series was seen as a warm-up event for both the teams leading to the all important ICC World T20 in March. Post the series, one team can look back at the series and feel that if they continue to play in the same vein, the crown of the ICC World T20 may well be theirs. That team is definitely India and with the Asia Cup due in barely 10 days, Dhoni’s boys would be looking to stamp their authority in Bangladesh as well.
This current Indian setup has all the ingredients needed to become a world champion. There is an optimum mix of experience, youth, raw energy and the never ending batting prowess. India’s run of unadulterated dominance began in Adelaide, where the Indians crushed Australia in the first T20I. From there on, it was sheer carnage from the Men in blue. However, there was a minor hiccup in Pune, when the Indians were bowled out for just 101. But then, it was on a pitch that seemed to be like a wicket prepared for a test match to suit England’s strengths at home, like the Nottingham pitch.
That was the very first thing which viewers across the globe understood. If the pitches in the ICC World T20 are to behave like the one in Pune, then the Indians might be a little vulnerable. The main reason for asserting so is that the Indians have traditionally faltered against the moving ball and when the bounce factor is added, things get a tad worse for the highly reputed Indian batsmen. Nevertheless, with the World Cup in their alley, expecting a pitch like Pune for the grand event is like anticipating the presence of a swimming pool in the Sahara desert.
India’s team combination looks extremely balanced and well settled. All the personnel know their respective tasks and their roles are thoroughly and clearly defined. This aspect was missing in the limited overs outing against South Africa at home a few months ago. As a consequence of poor planning and management, there was sheer hara-kiri from the Indians. Shikhar Dhawan’s form off late has been among the most positive signs for MS Dhoni’s side. Dhawan, who earlier was criticized for getting stuck in and playing slowly, has now found ways to overcome that limitation. The new flick shot over square leg which he has developed has reaped him great rewards so far. His off-side strokeplay needs no mention, as that is his strong point.
India’s number 3 is unquestionably the greatest T20 batsman at the moment. Virat Kohli, who took a much-needed break from the series against Sri Lanka, has been at the top of his game and his willow alone can decimate all the bowling attacks. The middle order too is well settled with Raina, Yuvraj and MS Dhoni fitting in. The indications tell us that Raina will bat at 4 while Yuvraj Singh will be in at 5. Hardik Pandya’s explosive statement with the bat in the second game in Ranchi clearly gives him an edge over Pawan Negi. Pandya can explode from the word go and that is the basic quality needed in a finisher.
Ravindra Jadeja and R. Ashwin have formed a lethal bowling duo. While Jadeja keeps things tight, Ashwin preys upon the batsmen and this duo will boss in the middle overs in the grand event. The pacers look profusely lethal as well with Nehra and Bumrah bowling exceptionally. Bumrah will particularly be Dhoni’s go-to man for the death overs, and he has hardly got any yorkers wrong.
Like any other edition of the World T20, spin will be the key. ‘Spin to win’ will surely be India’s path as Ashwin is a bowler right now, who has the ability to mesmerize any batsman on this globe. He roared back to form in the T20I’s against Australia and his cataclysmic spell which left the Sri Lankans nowhere is just a sign for other teams to be wary of Ashwin. Attacking Ashwin in India is an option simply out of the equation for the batsmen. As a matter of fact, Ashwin has the best statistics for an Indian bowler with the new ball. Teams which have southpaws as openers better need to reevaluate their game plans against India!
To assert the eventual outcome of the tournament at this moment, it will just be logical to state that India will stamp their authority and class on the tournament. No team might even come close to the Indians if they continue this dominance. The performance of this team from MS Dhoni has reminded viewers of the much dreaded Australian outfit led by the even remarkable Ricky Ponting. While Australia slaughtered all teams in the 2003, 2007 editions of the World Cup; India might well do the same in the 2016 World T20!