Thursday 13 September 2012 

ICC World Twenty20 2012 Preview - India

ICC World Twenty20 2012 Preview - India
ICC World Twenty20 2012 Preview - India
© REUTERS / Action Images
 

Since the inaugural ICC World Twenty20 in South Africa, team India hasn’t done so well in this format. For a side that has all its cricketers - first team, fringe, reserve and domestic - participating in the world’s foremost T20 league, this is a bit of shame.

When India didn't do well in the Test series in England last year, many questions were asked regarding the players' physical and match fitness after a hefty IPL season. One believes there were also other reasons such as fatigue, lack of preparation and ill-timed injuries to blame for the debacle, and the IPL factor only gets to take a small part of the blame. As such the biggest debacle in light of the heavy burden that has been placed on Indian cricketers reflects more in their performances at the last two ICC World T20 tournaments.

Mahendra Singh Dhoni and his boys were very busy in the build-up to both the 2009 and 2010 editions played out in England and West Indies. And they were so jaded physically and mentally that it had a direct effect on India’s performance as a result. Since this ICC World T20 comes at the start of a new season for the Men in Blue, you can ascertain with some confidence that it is their best chance to lift the trophy since 2007.

In comparison, after IPL 2012, India haven't played as much cricket as they did in the last three to four years. The players have all enjoyed a comfortable two-month break and injuries are at a minimum, as it should be at the start of a new season. They have been to Sri Lanka for an ODI series and hosted New Zealand for a Test & T20 tour. It has been enough to keep them going and warmed up properly for this big tournament.

Even so, there are big hurdles to be crossed if Dhoni is to lift this trophy for a second time.

The major worry for India has always been their bowling. The one upshot is that they won the ODI World Cup last year with a poor attack, when you consider Ashish Nehra and Munaf Patel were in the first XI for most matches. At present they will be sitting at home, twiddling thumbs and it is a small reason for hope among Indian fans. In their place will be Irfan Pathan, Ashok Dinda and Lakshmipathy Balaji, spearheaded by Zaheer Khan.

While Pathan is expected to play at seven, India will look to pick another two medium-pacers. The toss-up in all likelihood will be between Dinda and Balaji. It is a selection based on T20 performances and truth be told, both these bowlers have done decently well in the IPL. With spin being in the care of Ravichandran Ashwin and Harbhajan Singh, assuming Piyush Chawla will be mostly carrying drinks, you can see that India might just find a balance in their bowling attack, at least on paper.

Practicality though is a different issue altogether, for India utterly lacks in death bowling. In addition, Dhoni uses part-timers to a large extent in T20 cricket, though this move hasn’t paid off in recent times. All in all, they will have to bowl very well, stick to the basics as goes the cliché and hope to be supported by good fielding, to produce the desired results. This mix worked well for them last year so there's reason to be optimistic.

It also worked because the batting clicked and given the squad selection, the order is going to be a stickler. India affords a left-right combination in limited-overs as much as possible and this begins at the top. Their form might be on the down curve but both Virender Sehwag and Gautam Gambhir are expected to start. From here on, it gets tricky. Virat Kohli is a shoe-in for number three, but Suresh Raina bats well at this spot in T20 games. Ideally you would want Raina and the returning Yuvraj Singh to be finishing games. But they also provide impetus to the innings at four and five.

If you are playing Pathan along with four other bowlers, then Dhoni bats at six. However that is too low a position for him because despite being a finisher, he needs to start well and settle down before playing big shots. In earnest he should be batting at three or no lower than four, but that again jumbles up the whole order. The point being that India's batting order is perhaps more of a worry for them than their bowling is.

Even so, reaching the Super Eights won't be a hassle. They just need to beat Afghanistan, although they will want some taste of victory against England as well. The latter stage though is where it gets tricky. If everything goes as per plan, they are scheduled to meet Australia, South Africa and Pakistan in Group F.

Considering that they haven’t gone past the Super Eights in either 2009 or 2010, the task in front of Dhoni’s team is far from easy.

Recent Form

2012 – LWLWXL

1st February: lost to Australia by 31 runs
3rd February: beat Australia by 8 wickets
30th March: lost to South Africa by 11 runs
7th August: beat Sri Lanka by 39 runs
8th September: Abandoned versus New Zealand
11th September: lost to New Zealand by 1 run

Previous Tournament Performances

2007: Winners, beating Pakistan by 5 runs in the final
2009: Knocked out in Super Eights
2010: Knocked out in Super Eights

Tournament fixtures

Group C: India, England, Afghanistan

September 19th: India versus Afghanistan at Colombo (1930 Local Time, 1400 GMT)
September 23rd: India versus England at Colombo (1930 Local Time, 1400 GMT)

Squad: Mahendra Singh Dhoni(captain & wicket-keeper), Gautam Gambhir, Virender Sehwag, Suresh Raina, Virat Kohli, Yuvraj Singh, Irfan Pathan, Ravichandran Ashwin, Zaheer Khan, Lakshmipathy Balaji, Ashok Dinda, Rohit Sharma, Piyush Chawla, Harbhajan Singh, Manoj Tiwary

Chetan Narula

© Cricket World 2012

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ICC WT20 Final Video