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.

West Indies in South Africa, 2014-15

Dec 26, 2014 (14:00 IST)   at Port Elizabeth

Sri Lanka tour of New Zealand, 2014-15

Dec 26, 2014 (03:30 IST)   at Christchurch

India tour of Australia, 2014-15

Dec 26, 2014 (05:00 IST)   at Melbourne

West Indies in South Africa, 2014-15

Jan 2, 2015 (14:00 IST)   at Cape Town

Sri Lanka tour of New Zealand, 2014-15

Jan 3, 2015 (03:30 IST)   at Wellington

More

Pakistan vs New Zealand in UAE, 2014

Dec 19, 2014  at Abu Dhabi

New Zealand won by 68 runs

India tour of Australia, 2014-15

Dec 17, 2014  at Woolloongabba, Brisbane

Australia won by 4 wkts

Pakistan vs New Zealand in UAE, 2014

Dec 17, 2014  at Abu Dhabi

New Zealand won by 7 runs

West Indies in South Africa, 2014-15

Dec 17, 2014  at Centurion

South Africa won by an innings and 220 runs

England tour of Sri Lanka, 2014

Dec 16, 2014  at Colombo

Sri Lanka won by 87 runs

Photos

India vs Australia, 2nd Test at Brisbane

Videos

Ind vs Aus: Dhoni analyses the 4-wicket loss at Brisbane

Live Cricket Score Ranji Trophy 2014-15, Round 3, Day 1 — All matches

India’s collapse against Australia on 2nd Test at Brisbane: Did the visitors really bat badly on Day 4?

India vs Australia 2014-15, 2nd Test at Brisbane: Marks out of 10 for the hosts

India vs Australia 2014-15, Brisbane: India marks out of 10

India vs Australia, 2nd Test at Brisbane: India’s tail tales

Anil Kumble Australia India Moments in history Ricky Ponting South Africa

Shahid Afridi retirement: Twitter reaction

Shahid Afridi to retire from ODIs after 2015 World Cup: Report

Kevin Pietersen determined to make comeback despite selectors’ reluctance

Alastair Cook sacked in ‘hugely disrespectful’ manner: Andrew Strauss

India vs Australia 2014-15, 3rd Test at Melbourne: Joe Burns says dream come true to play for Australia

Pakistan vs New Zealand ODI series 2014: A look back at the series

Murali Vijay’s 144 among most runs scored by an Indian on Day 1 of overseas Test

Virat Kohli, Steve Smith and others scoring century on their Captaincy Debut in Test cricket

Batsman given hit wicket after mobile phone falls on stumps

India vs Australia 2014-15, 2nd Test at Brisbane: Highlights

Fan of the Day

Niharika Shah

Niharika Shah

683 Posts | 6 Fans

Mitchell Johnson's 37 wickets against England in Ashes 2013-14

प्रसिद्ध कथक नृत्यांगना सितारा देवी नहीं रही

More broadband connections to boost GDP growth in Asia Pacific: GSMA

India is becoming our largest overseas market, Xiaomi CEO Lei Jun says

Bigg Boss 8: Ali Quli Mirza, Renee Dhyani, Upen Patel, Praneet Bhatt, Sonali Raut – who should be evicted this week?

Revealed: The reason why Kishore Kumar’s biopic starring Ranbir Kapoor won’t feature Katrina Kaif!

अभिनेत्री प्रियंका चोपड़ा ने स्वच्छ भारत अभियान में हिस्सा लिया

Also on cricketcountry.com

Play Fantasy Cricket & Win

Cash Daily! Click here