MS Dhoni would certainly be feeling the heat after India’s poor run in the past couple of months © Getty Images
By Devarchit Varma
Amid a string of losses, controversies, poor form of their key players and questions being raised over the role of their coach Duncan Fletcher, Team India is set to begin their ICC World T20 2014 campaign with their opening clash against arch rivals Pakistan on Friday. The team may be boasting of young talent, but the negative points associated with this team are definitely more than the positives, and it may hamper their performance in the tournament.
In the 2012 edition of the tournament held in Sri Lanka, the men haven’t done badly either. They have won four out their five matches, but one bad performance against Australia had cost them dearly and they were thrown out of the tournament with lots to ponder about. The form of some of their key players was a big concern, as were the ubiquitous worries in the areas like fielding. Two years since then, the team had indeed changed and improved in lot of areas, but problems are way too many for the champion side of 2007.
India are heading into the tournament after a string of losses. They haven’t done anything significant in the limited-overs format that could strengthen their claim this time. They have lost all their series overseas in recent past. Playing in the subcontinent can be the sole reason why the Indians would fancy winning the tournament (mind you, they did not reach the final of the recently concluded Asia Cup either). India do not have winning momentum like other top sides such as Australia, Sri Lanka and Pakistan, who have had an excellent buildup to the series and are looking in good shape.
Since the 2012 edition, India have played mere five Twenty20 Internationals, which shows the lack of practice this unit has had while playing together. The Indians may feel that the experience of playing in the Indian Premier League (IPL) would come in handy, but a major aspect of playing in different teams and playing with the same set of players, is totally different.
The batting department has its own share of worries. Shikhar Dhawan and Rohit Sharma had started off well when they were given the job to open the innings but the ordinary run in the past couple of matches could haunt India. Once again, the responsibility of scoring the bulk of the runs may come on Virat Kohli’s shoulders, which is not very good news.
Yuvraj Singh and Suresh Raina are making comebacks, but nothing apart from their experience has looked promising so far. Their problems against short bowling haven’t improved a great deal and in a global tournament like the ICC World T20 2014, one would always expect the teams from outside the subcontinent to play with their strengths and exploit the weaknesses of those from the area.
Ravichandran Ashwin has been undergoing a torrid time with the ball but has somehow managed to cling to his position with the help of good performances with the bat. But the Indian fans would always expect their spinners to play a major role in the subcontinent and thus the burden on Ravindra Jadeja would certainly increase.
Recently, in a training session, Amit Mishra, who has been banging the doors for selection was plundered for runs by MS Dhoni, which is probably an indication of why the captain doesn’t believe in giving the leg-spinner too many chances. Dhoni’s treatment of Mishra shows that the skipper doesn’t have enough confidence in him and his selection is not assured despite good form.
The biggest worry for the team, however, is the new-ball attack: the pacers have not only been erratic but wayward — aspects that have played in the opposition’s benefit on more than one occasion. Bhuvneshwar Kumar’s lack of wickets continues to worry the think-tank, as does the experience of Varun Aaron and Mohit Sharma. Compared to the other top sides, The Men in Blue have the one of the weakest new-ball attacks in this tournament.
Dhoni would certainly be feeling the heat after India’s poor run in the past couple of months. The captain himself has been among the runs but he will have to play a bigger role with the bat to take the team ahead in this edition. Surrounded by many off the field issues, the captain too is making a comeback in the side and is also struggling with fitness.
Certainly, India have a lot to worry about.
ICC World T20 2014 Points Table and Team Standings
ICC World T20 2014 Schedule details
(Devarchit Varma is a reporter with CricketCountry. He can be followed on Twitter @Devarchit)