Team India certainly look favourites in T20 World Cup with their brand new alacrity approach
Indian players celebrating a wicket versus England in the T20Is.|
Led by Rohit Sharma, India's recent success in England has helped them regain the 'favourites' tag for the upcoming edition of the T20 World Cup, scheduled for Australia later this year.
More often than not, whenever Jos Buttler’s rejuvenated England had bowled to India in the recent T20I series, the scenes looked like they were tossing a ball into the mouth of a cannon. Even in the dead rubber that took place on Sunday, the Men in Blue seemed like they do not have time to watch where the ball lands and how it moves before playing a shot.
Since the format’s inception, they have never taken this approach for three successive matches. Never ever.
Although this batting template in T20s is nothing advanced to the world. In fact, England began to construct it when Eoin Morgan took charge way back in 2015, and countries like two-time world champions West Indies and reigning champions Australia follow the same as well. Technically, their wide range of strokes from the beginning, rather than taking some time in the middle to settle, has been making them nigh-on impossible to stop once they get going.
Now look back at how it all started for India in the first place. On July 7 in the series opener at the Rose Bowl, Rohit Sharma, India’s all-format captain led by example to step up to increase pressure on England despite receiving little support from his opening partner Ishan Kishan. The next five batters – Deepak Hooda, Suryakumar Yadav, Hardik Pandya, Axar Patel, and Dinesh Karthik just carried the momentum with substantial impacts. Notably, all of them left the field with a strike rate of 140 or excess.
Yes, it was a relatively weak English attack which did not have Jofra Archer, Adil Rashid, and Mark Wood – three of their regular starters in the limited-overs cricket. But their absence does not take any credit away from the Indian batters. Not at all.
Not to forget, India had endured a heartbreaking defeat at Edgbaston in a historic Test less than 48 hours ahead of the first T20I. During that small period, the term ‘Bazball’ was buzzing here and there after Ben Stokes’ spirited England chased down a record-breaking target of 378. Although that successful monumental job only helped them level the Test series by 2-2, it still had plenty of reasons to rejoice, especially considering England’s horrendous run of form in the longest format of the game not too long ago.
Although India’s red-ball-bound members did not play the first T20I, there was definitely a psychological disadvantage for the tourists. But since the moment they took the field for a new mission under Rohit, it seemed like nothing has happened in the recent past.
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For India, the second T20I against England at Edgbaston was more significant than the first. Although the margins of victory in those contests are almost the same (by 50 runs in 1st T20I, by 49 runs in 2nd T20I), the way they recovered from 89/5 to 170/8 was truly aspirational. That happened largely due to an astounding unbeaten 29-ball 46 knock from Ravindra Jadeja, who came to the rescue even while batting at as low as No. 7.
This tells the story of how strong India’s current bunch of players are in T20Is. Here, someone who comes to bat No. 7 has the ability to change the course of a match with the bat in hand.
More importantly, the victory at Edgbaston was sweet because of two reasons: firstly, it was a series-clinching win, and secondly, it was the same place where they suffered heartbreak and their fans were racially abused less than a week ago.
Having already taken an unassailable 2-0 lead and to keep the jam-packed schedule in mind, India had decided to give Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Jasprit Bumrah, and Yuzvendra Chahal a rest. But there at Trent Bridge with the audacity Suryakumar Yadav had batted despite receiving little support from his teammates was nothing but sheer joy for the viewers across the globe.
Chasing a gigantic 216, India were left reeling at 34/3 at the end of the Powerplay, with Rohit, Virat Kohli, and Rishabh Pant already returning to the pavilion. Even for the wildest punters, it would have been hard to bank on India at that point. But from there on, the impact Suryakumar left on the field could be resembled a thrilling package.
With Shreyas Iyer (28 off 23 balls) in the company, Suryakumar’s premeditated adjustments while playing entertaining shots propelled them to 150/3 at the end of 15 overs. With 66 more runs required off the last 30 balls, they were well and truly in the contest until Shreyas fell in the next over and the momentum shifted to England.
Nevertheless, Suryakumar’s magnificent 55-ball 117 was greeted by many across social media, as well as by the broadcasters. More importantly, his stupendous knock came when the others had struggled around him. That actually made him the standout performer. Perhaps, had India’s team management stuck to their older template, the innings might not have even never taken place.
Since the conclusion of the last year’s World Cup, India’s strike rate (137.07) in Powerplay overs is the best among the full-time cricket nations. Their average score per wicket during this period read 45.85, while West Indies stand at second place, with 33.67. The stark difference between the Indians and the others, in terms of electrifying starts, can be clearly seen here.
With a potent bowling unit that consists of Bhuvneshwar, Bumrah, and Chahal, all India needed was support from their star-studded batting unit which did not perform up to the mark last time in the T20 World Cup. But this time, with just more than three months away, they seem like are on the right track under Rohit’s leadership. All they need to keep the momentum going forward to Australia to end the wait for re-lifting the prestigious trophy, something they last did in the inaugural edition under MS Dhoni’s guidance.