T20 World Cup: Solid-looking India eye glory in UAE
The seventh edition of the International Cricket Council (ICC) Men’s T20 World Cup 2021 is set to begin on October 23. The competition, which was originally scheduled to be organised in India will now take place in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Oman.
The tournament is divided into two phases, the qualifiers where six teams will compete for the four places in the Super 12s alongside eight who have already booked their place.
The home team India are placed in Group 2 alongside their arch-rivals Pakistan, current World Test Championship winner New Zealand, and highly-talented Afghanistan.
The Men-in-Blue are entering the tournament as one of the favourites to win the title and they will be starting their campaign with the high-intensity contest against Pakistan on October 24 in Dubai.
Virat Kohli-led unit will be looking to get the better of their opponents, whom they’ve already defeated seven times in the last eight meetings in the 20-over format.
After that, India will lock horns with New Zealand on October 31. The contest is expected to be a feisty one as in the 17 meetings in the T20Is, both have managed to win on eight occasions.
However, the Black Caps have been the dominant force in the ICC events where they won on both occasions—in 2007 and 2016.
India have proven itself as a real powerhouse in the shortest format of the game where out of the 145 T20Is, they have emerged victorious on 92 occasions and lost 49 times.
India won the inaugural edition of the ICC T20 World Cup in 2007 under the captaincy of wicketkeeper-batter MS Dhoni whereas, in 2014, they were the runners up after suffering a defeat in the final against Sri Lanka.
India’s Squad for ICC T20 World Cup 2021:
India’s squad for the mega-event was announced by BCCI Secretary Jay Shah and the Chairman of Selectors Chetan Sharma.
The most surprising development was the exclusion of players like Yuzvendra Chahal, Shikhar Dhawan, Kuldeep Yadav, and Shreyas Iyer whereas Ravichandran Ashwin, and Varun Chakravarthy were selected.
In the latest development, Shardul Thakur has replaced Axar Patel in India’s squad with Patel being moved into the list of standby players.
World T20-winning captain MS Dhoni was appointed the team’s mentor for the competition as well.
India have the depth and resources to uplift the ICC T20 World Cup for the second time. Another advantage for the side is that all players who have been selected for the competition are currently playing in the Indian Premier League (IPL), which is being played in the UAE and hence the players are getting the best possible chance to prepare for the mega-event.
Kohli-Sharma opening pair
Kohli and Rohit Sharma opened the innings for India in a T20I against England for the first time earlier this year.
The move to open with Sharma worked well for the Men-in-Blue as the star duo’s 94-run stand helped the side in beating Eoin Morgan-led unit by 36 runs and seal the five-match series.
Kohli also opened the innings for RCB in the IPL 2021 has scored back-to-back fifties in the last two matches.
Strong spin department
Ashwin has been recalled in the T20Is after a gap of four years, much to the surprise of many. He is likely to be India’s frontline spinner along with Ravindra Jadeja and Rahul Chahar.
Ashwin has taken 52 wickets in 46 matches for the national team. On the other hand, Jadeja will come in handy as he can control the scoring rate and can always chip in with a few wickets at regular intervals.
Meanwhile, Chahar, Chakravarthy, and Patel will be the other options for India in the spin department.
Versatile pace battery
India’s pace attack has all the ingredients to trouble any batting lineup in the competition.
The seam movement of Mohammad Shami, the swing of Bhuvneshwar Kumar, and the precise yorkers of Jasprit Bumrah are more than a handy combination to have for any captain at his disposal.
Star all-rounder Hardik Pandya’s recent performances might be a concern for India going into the competition.
After recovering from an injury, the Mumbai Indians player is going through a rough patch and has failed to deliver like the way he used to before.
Pandya has only managed to bag 4 wickets this year in the 19 overs bowled, conceding 135 runs.
That’s not it as in the ongoing IPL, the 27-year-old has not bowled a single over and with the bat in hand, he has only managed to score 95 runs in eight innings at an average of less than 14 along with the strike rate of just 118.75.
With Pandya struggling to dominate opposition on the field, the pressure will increase on players like Jadeja who might be given the role of filling the void created because of the poor form of the star all-rounder.
By the look of things, it seems that India will be heavily relying on their top-order once again to do the talking.
On paper, the team has a decent middle-order featuring the likes of right-hander KL Rahul and the left-handed wicketkeeper-batter Rishabh Pant.
Even though both players have delivered time and again in the IPL for their respective franchises, they’ve done very little to convince the fans and pundits that they’ve what it takes to bear the burden if there is a collapse at the top order.
India’s 15-member Squad
Virat Kohli (c), Rohit Sharma (vc), KL Rahul, Suryakumar Yadav, Rishabh Pant (wk), Ishan Kishan, Hardik Pandya, Ravindra Jadeja, Rahul Chahar, Ravichandran Ashwin, Shardul Thakur, Varun Chakravarthy, Jasprit Bumrah, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Mohammed Shami
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