Home > News >

ICC World T20 2014: Struggling India get ready for clash against dashing Pakistan

MS Dhoni will be aware of the chinks in the Indian line-up © AFP
MS Dhoni will be aware of the chinks in the Indian line-up © AFP

By Kushan Sarkar

Mirpur: Mar 20, 2014

Battered and bruised in the first quarter of 2014, India will aim to take fresh guard when they open their ICC World T20 2014 campaign against traditional foes Pakistan at Mirpur on Friday, in what promises to be a cracker of a contest.

While form favours Pakistan even though they were battered by South Africa in a warm-up game on Wednesday, history would be on India’s side as they have never lost to their arch-rivals on all three meetings of the previous editions of World T20.

The Pakistan national team has played more T20 Internationals than its Indian counterparts, who last played an official T20 International against Australia in October last year.

There will be some great inner battle within the main contest. Shahid Afridi‘s pyrotechnics against Ravichandran Ashwin‘s variations, Umar Gul‘s pace against Virat Kohli‘s bravado, Saeed Ajmal‘s guile against Mahendra Singh Dhoni’s flair.

But then, cricket is a fickle game and India have not had a great run this year so far. Mahendra Singh Dhoni‘s side has won only two official international matches this year having beaten Bangladesh and Afghanistan in the Asia Cup last month.

They have lost to all major teams like Pakistan, Sri Lanka and New Zealand.

Even they lost to Sri Lanka in the first warm-up game before beating England convincingly by 20 runs in the final warm-up tie to somewhat redeem themselves.

While a victory acts as a morale booster after having inculcated the habit of losing, it would be a completely different ball-game when the ‘Men In Blue’ take the field against Mohammad Hafeez‘s men.

It is impossible to think that Shahid Afridi‘s last-over exploits wouldn’t play on the Indian cricketers’ minds ahead of the game although the format is completely different.

There would be immense pressure on both sides and one can expect a full house at the Sher-e-Bangla Stadium as people are going crazy for the tickets of the match.

For Dhoni, there are a number of issues that he needs to fret upon although Wednesday’s England game was an indication as to what kind of line-up he is planning to field on Friday.

There are still some concerns with both batting and bowling. Rohit Sharma and Shikhar Dhawan‘s performance in shorter versions hasn’t been good enough but the skipper is not known to tinker too much with his side.

Also the fact that Ajinkya Rahane, who can be an option as an opener having done the job for Rajasthan Royals in the Indian Premier League (IPL), is also not inspiring confidence of the highest order.

While critics have panned Dhoni for not being flexible with his team selection, he did try something out of the box during the last edition in Sri Lanka where Irfan Pathan came in as an opener.

His run-a-ball 31 was one of the primary reasons that India lost to Australia and were subsequently knocked out of the tournament. Dhoni has never really experimented big time after that.

A good start is always crucial as it helps to seize the initiative early on in the match. Both Rohit and Dhawan would be aware that a couple of defeats could mean end of the road for India in this edition.

The relief for the skipper would be his mainstay Virat Kohli‘s form. The team’s No 1 batsman looked in great touch against England as he smashed an unbeaten 74 off only 47 balls.

Dhoni’s trusted lieutenant Suresh Raina is also showing signs of getting back his touch which had deserted him for the better part of the last season.

A 30-odd against Sri Lanka and a 31-ball-54 against England in two practice games would certain do his confidence a world of good.

Yuvraj Singh‘s scratchy form continued as he looked good against the Sri Lankan spinners during the first warm-up game while he played a poor shot in the next game.

However, with four man-of-the-match awards in India’s last five official T20 Internationals, Yuvraj is a force to reckon with in this format as he can take the game at any point of time.

Dhoni himself is coming back from injury but he looked in good touch during his 14-ball-21 against England. The skipper’s form will be crucial to India’s future in the tournament.

The bowling is a worrying factor for the Indian team. Ravichandran Ashwin‘s form in the run-up to the tournament has been good with economical spells against both Sri Lanka and England.

Ravindra Jadeja also had a decent outing with the ball against England. His terrific fielding and improved batting at No 8 makes him an automatic choice.

But Amit Mishra hasn’t done too well in the practice games and with Yuvraj, Raina, Rohit in the team, there is a doubt whether a third specialist spinner would fit into the scheme of things.

But it will be a choice between Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Varun Aaron as Mohammed Shami is a certainty in the playing XI unless he has a niggle.

Bhuvneshwar’s pace has been like cannon fodder for the batsmen and has been easy pickings for batsmen of all teams. Aaron’s pace is impressive but he has very little variations which can be a worry for captain during the death overs.

Pakistan were all-out for 71 in their last warm-up game against South Africa but that had more to do with trying to test the batsmen by changing the order.

While Ahmed Shehzad, skipper Hafeez, and the Akmal brothers — Kamran and Umar — will be itching to have a go at India, the two fear factors for Dhoni’s men will be none other than Afridi and Saeed Ajmal.

Ajmal’s four overs with the kind of variations he possesses can create a lot of trouble for Indian batsmen.

Afridi on the other hand can change the complexion of the game with both bat and ball.

In Umar Gul and Sohail Tanvir, they have a more than capable right-left bowling combination, who are never easy to get away.

In all, brace up for what is going to be a riveting Friday blockbuster.

India tour of England 2014

Sep 2, 2014 (15:00 IST)   at Birmingham

Zimbabwe Triangular Series, 2014

Sep 2, 2014 (13:00 IST)   at Harare

Zimbabwe Triangular Series, 2014

Sep 4, 2014 (13:00 IST)   at Harare

India tour of England 2014

Sep 5, 2014 (15:00 IST)   at Leeds

Bangladesh Tour of West Indies, 2014

Sep 5, 2014 (19:30 IST)   at Kingstown, St Vincent

More

Zimbabwe Triangular Series, 2014

Aug 31, 2014  at Harare

Zimbabwe won by 3 wkts

Pakistan tour of Sri Lanka, 2014

Aug 30, 2014  at Dambulla

SL won by 7 wkts (D/L method)

India tour of England 2014

Aug 30, 2014  at Nottingham

India won by 6 wkts

Zimbabwe Triangular Series, 2014

Aug 29, 2014  at Harare

South Africa won by 61 runs

Zimbabwe Triangular Series, 2014

Aug 27, 2014  at Harare

South Africa won by 7 wkts

Photos

Australia vs Zimbabwe, ODI tri-series at Harare

Videos

Misbah disppointed with Pakistan's performance

Australia’s losses to minnows in limited-overs cricket

India tour of England 2014: Who is Jason Roy?

Zimbabwe’s 12 most memorable victories in international cricket

Zimbabwe vs Australia, 4th ODI: Highlights

Elton Chigumbura-Prosper Utseya partnership takes Zimbabwe to historic win over Australia

Australia Australia and South Africa in Zimbabwe 2014 England England vs India England vs India 2014 India India tour of England 2014 India vs England India vs England 2014 Pakistan South Africa Zimbabwe Zimbabwe Triangular Series 2014 Zimbabwe vs Australia Zimbabwe vs Australia 2014

Adam Gilchrist to meet Narendra Modi in India

Wahab Riaz’s daughter critical, needs O positive blood

India tour of England 2014: Geoffrey Boycott calls for Alastair Cook, Ian Bell and Joe Root to be axed from ODI side

Robin Uthappa eying the Indian opening slot

Alastair Cook should accept ‘constructive’ criticism, says Geoffrey Boycott

Archie MacLaren’s amateurs fell Warwick Armstrong’s mighty Australians in one of cricket’s greatest fairytales

David Bairstow: A champion claimed by depression

Should Michael Clarke cut down on playing time ahead of ICC World Cup 2015?

Australia’s losses to minnows in limited-overs cricket

India tour of England 2014: Who is Jason Roy?

Fan of the Day

Niharika Shah

Niharika Shah

668 Posts | 6 Fans

Yuvraj Singh's ton against MCC

Yeh Rishta Kya Kehlata Hai: Will Naitik and Akshara receive a legal notice from their clients?

India 4th most affected by mobile malwares: F-Secure

Save MAMI campaign raises Rs.1.5 crore with social media help

Top 6 monsoon dressing tips for dummies

MTS to offer free movies to its subscribers

Exercise challenge – The HandStand Push-up

From roads to high court – dog bites take a toll

Amitabh Bachchan reaches milestone with 10 million followers on Twitter!

Also on cricketcountry.com

Play Fantasy Cricket & Win

Cash Daily! Click here