It has been 15 years since India won the T20 World Cup. They were the inaugural champions of the tournament in 2007. It was a young team sans any expectation that ended up winning the championship. Every edition since then India has been touted as favourite heading into the tournament. India though flattered to deceive in each edition. They made it to the knockouts just twice (2014 & 2016) post the first edition.
The debacle of T20 World Cup 2021:
India was one of the overwhelming favourites in the last edition. The tournament scheduled to be played in UAE was familiar conditions to the Indian team. But the tournament ended for India no sooner than it began. They had their backs against the wall inside 5 overs of their first match against Pakistan. India couldn’t recover from that jolt. They lost timidly to New Zealand quashing all chances of their qualification to the next round.
The reset button:
India hit the reset button post the World Cup. The newly appointed captain-coach duo of Rohit Sharma and Rahul Dravid wanted India to play brave cricket. To their credit, the team did embrace the bold new approach. India started posting above-par scores on most occasions while batting first. Despite not playing a full-strength squad at all times, India kept winning largely. It looked like they had the ammunition to fire big this time around.
India flounder at Asia Cup:
The Asia Cup 2022 was going to be the test of India’s approach. There couldn’t have been a better dress rehearsal than this. But India crumbled at the first sight of pressure. Their tactical approach, and their team combination all came undone in two back-to-back pressure games. India’s reluctance to play a tried and tested XI cost them a spot in the finals. They failed to make it to the finals of yet another multi-nation tournament.
Injuries to star players:
India’s team combination was largely affected by injuries to their couple of players. Ravindra Jadeja was ruled out post India’s win over Pakistan in the league stage. Both Jasprit Bumrah and Harshal Patel missed the tournament owing to injury. India didn’t have their first-choice XI in any game.
They are jolted big time with injuries to Jadeja and Bumrah that have ruled them out of the T20 World Cup. They were two of the three players who walked into the side every time. India’s balance once again has been affected ahead of the T20 World Cup.
What are India’s chances?
India does appear short on key stars heading into the World Cup. But the team has shown that whenever they are written off, they come back stronger. The Border-Gavaskar trophy in 2020-21 was the best example. India go into the World Cup with minimal expectations. They would want to do an encore just as they did in 2007 when nobody had any expectations!