There are plenty of reasons why India will be full of confidence going into the Super 12 showdown at the T20 World Cup in the UAE.
First of all, every player selected in the 15-man squad has been playing IPL cricket for the past month in the UAE and have acclimatised to the conditions much more than any other team. They have a squad which has mix of youth and experience and — most importantly — everyone in the squad has enough experience of playing the IPL, which is regarded as the toughest franchise tournament in the world, where all the Indian players get the chance to rub shoulders with the best of the best from around the globe and come across many match situations where their temperament has been tried and tested.
They have in Rohit Sharma and KL Rahul two of the best openers who have a strike rate of 140 to give them a flying start from ball one. They also have another option. If India decide to open with Ishan Kishan along with Rohit Sharma, he cannot only give the extra edge of a right-and-left combination, he is crucially fearless and can take full advantage of the powerplay.
India skipper Virat Kohli follows next, and he has the best average in the world of 52.6, with a temperament to match. He can finish off the games in the white-ball format without leaning on the middle order and he will be one player whom the other players will bat around. At No. 4 will be Suryakumar Yadav, who has been touted as the next big thing because of the range of shots he has in his arsenal, as he displayed recently for Mumbai Indians. He has been instrumental in helping them to back-to-back titles in 2019 and 2020.
At No. 5 we have Rishabh Pant, who has developed into possibly India’s top man after the Australia series and is their best wicketkeeper who can read the game well.
India will definitely play Hardik Pandya at No. 6 as a finisher — even if he is not able to bowl, he is one player who can destroy any opposition on his day and, if he can bowl, it will give Kohli another cushion of a sixth man with the ball.
India’s No. 7 will be Ravindra Jadeja, who has come of age in the past two years, with a strike rate of 207 in the death overs since 2020 at an average of 55 and is very handy with the ball as a left-arm spinner. oh, he is also undoubtedly world’s best fielder.
In Jasprit Bumrah, India has a strike bowler who has an average of 20 and an economy of 6.50 and can bowl in any conditions. He has won India many games with his turns. Mohammad Shami will be his fast-bowling partner and he, too, has improved in the past few years. To add to the package there is mystery spinner Varun Chakravarthy, who can bowl seven different variations and could be India’s trump card as none of the batsmen could suss him out in the IPL. The key question is, will India get their hands on the coveted trophy? They have been found wanting in 2014 against Sri Lanka, when they were favourites, and then they were beaten by the West Indies in their own backyard in 2016.
India have MS Dhoni as a mentor, who won his fourth title for CSK in this year’s IPL in the UAE. His experience will definitely help not only the youngsters but also the more experienced boys. If this is to be Kohli’s hurdle to cross in his final assignment as India captain, he must know this must be their best chance to add a second T20 title to the one they won in the inaugural tournament in 2007, and leave him with a true legacy.