Sanjay Manjrekar.
Sanjay Manjrekar. Image Credit: X

The veteran and former India batter Sanjay Manjrekar points out that the current Indian team is not overly dependent on their two senior members of the side, Rohit Sharma and Virat Kohli, and that has been one of the main reasons, behind their constant success so far in the 20-over ICC event.

Under the leadership of Rohit, India has done a terrific job in the ongoing ICC Men’s T20 World Cup 2024, with an unbeaten run in the group stage. They got the better of Ireland, Pakistan, and the United States of America in the first round, while defeating Afghanistan and Bangladesh easily in the super-eight stage of the tournament.

Both Rohit and Kohli have been given the job of giving India a great start in the opening position, with intent, before the middle-order batters would follow it up with the same aggression till the end.

‘It’s now a team of 11, not just one or two.’- Sanjay Manjrekar

For a long time in ICC events, the Indian team has depended on their two senior members in the side- Rohit and Virat to bulk of the scoring, and once they get out, the team comes under serious pressure.

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The Mysore-born Sanjay Manjrekar observes that the same isn’t happening again, and other batters of the team are stepping up in crucial moments to save them from struggling points.

‘Rohit and Virat are still obvious icons in this team and for its fans, but India, as we have seen in this WC, have moved on. It is now a team of 11, not just one or two.’ The former batter Sanjay Manjrekar penned down this column for the Hindustan Times. ‘Come the semis, when the challenge gets stiffer and India play with the realisation that they will be knocked out of the tournament if they lose, Rohit and Virat must continue to embrace this attitude.’

In New York, India was under pressure on so many occasions. Against Pakistan, they lost both their openers cheaply, when Rishabh Pant and Axar Patel saved from that position, while against the USA, it was Suryakumar Yadav who carried them over the line.

He did the same against Afghanistan in Barbados when the team came under a little bit of pressure with losing wickets constantly. Later, it was Hardik Pandya who stood on the occasion to seal the deal in Antigua.

The 58-year-old reckons that the anchor innings of Rohit Sharma and Virat Kohli backfired them in the semifinal of the 2022 T20 World Cup against England in Adelaide, where they started too slowly, and didn’t get the right momentum at all.

‘The last thing India want is a repeat of the semis of the last T20 WC when both Rohit and Virat took it upon themselves to be the ones to lead India’s fight against a strong England side, which backfired badly.’ The former top-order batter Sanjay Manjrekar added.

Kohli managed only 50 runs in 40 balls, while Rohit’s ugly innings came to an end with 27 in 28 balls, as the opening stand of Jos Buttler and Alex Hales was enough to chase the target with 10 wickets in hand.

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India’s left-arm pacer Arshdeep Singh has been bowling quite well, being the third-highest wicket-taker of the competition so far with 12 scalps in five innings at an economy of 7.05. The renowned commentator feels that Jasprit Bumrah is expected to come good in the semis, but it will be interesting to see Arshdeep come with the same impact under pressure.

‘I also have one minor concern regarding India’s seam quality (barring the genius of Jasprit Bumrah, of course).’ Sanjay Manjrekar concluded. ‘I am not so sure about Arshdeep against a strong team on a pressure stage. This aside, India seem to have all bases covered.’

If India wins their last ‘super-eight’ game against Australia, they will face England in the second semi-final of the tournament on June 27, at the Providence Stadium in Guyana.