India ICC World Twenty20 2016 Preview
The 2007 champion has settled on a balanced side and has enjoyed a great run of form in the lead up to the ICC World T20 2016
10 March 2016 18:09
In 2011, India became the first country to win the ICC Cricket World Cup in its own backyard. Given its recent form and the brand of cricket it has portrayed in Twenty20 Internationals since the start of the year, it will fancy its chances of also becoming the first team to lift the ICC World Twenty20 crown on home turf.
In a well structured build-up to the tournament, India has played only T20I cricket since the end of January, and has stacked up an astonishing record under Mahendra Singh Dhoni. After sweeping Australia 3-0 Down Under, it bounced back from the loss of the first match to defeat Sri Lanka at home 2-1 and rounded off its preparations by scything through the Asia Cup draw, winning all five matches on its way to the title.
History: Against all odds and with little experience of Twenty20 cricket, Dhoni’s India sprang a massive surprise by winning the inaugural World T20 in South Africa in 2007. The going, however, hasn’t been all that good since, even though India’s players have had greater exposure to T20 cricket following the IPL revolution. India lost all three matches in the Super 8 stage of the 2009 and 2010 editions and failed to make the semifinal in 2012 on net run-rate, but it did bounce back in 2014 to surge into the final before being stopped by Sri Lanka.
Group: India is in Group 2, alongside New Zealand, Pakistan, Australia, and Group A Qualifier.
Captain: Mahendra Singh Dhoni
Coach: Ravi Shastri (team director)
Preview: One of the main reasons for India’s inability to translate its familiarity with the game into meaningful results was because it didn’t play enough T20 Internationals. That anomaly has been corrected this time around with the team playing as many as 11 T20Is in the last month and a half. At home, India has been traditionally strong like most other sides in the world are, banking on its batting riches to chase down any total or to set a daunting target for all opposition.
Having struggled for balance, India has unearthed a game-changer in Hardik Pandya, who can strike the ball a long way and give four overs of fast medium bowling. The arrival of Jasprit Bumrah and the return of Ashish Nehra has given the pace attack greater stability, while Yuvraj Singh has shown glimpses of searing form to complement a formidable battling line-up headlined by Virat Kohli.
Strengths: India has stuck with pretty much the same XI since the three-match series in Australia, which has ensured continuity and a settled core group with each cog aware of its role and responsibilities. Rohit Sharma has been in rip-roaring form and has struck up a nice tandem with Shikhar Dhawan at the top of the tree, with middle-order muscle coming from Kohli, Suresh Raina, Yuvraj, Dhoni and Pandya. While the pace attack is in competent hands, R Ashwin has moved to another level with his off-spin, as evidenced by 17 wickets and an economy of less than 6 an over in 10 T20Is this year. Alongside Ravindra Jadeja, Ashwin forms a potent spin combine, with non-regular options in the form of Yuvraj, Raina and Rohit too at Dhoni’s disposal.
Recent form: Won against Bangladesh by eight wickets, Won against UAE by nine wickets, Won against Sri Lanka by five wickets, Won against Pakistan by five wickets, Won against Bangladesh by 45 runs. Unbeaten in last seven games.
Star player: Virat Kohli
Having established himself as a batsman for all seasons in the Test and 50-over formats, Virat Kohli has taken a giant step in the last six weeks towards T20I greatness too. Since lashing a spectacular unbeaten 90 against Australia in Adelaide onJanuary 26, he has smacked four half-centuries in seven innings, and two other scores in the 40s. During that period, he has also masterminded four successful run-chases. In all, he averages a staggering 52.61 in 38 T20Is at an excellent strike-rate of 133.07, making him the most coveted scalp in a team replete with ball-strikers extraordinaire.
Over the years, Kohli has proved himself to be the king of chases, blessed with the ability to read situations perfectly and adjust his game accordingly. From the pivotal No. 3 position, he controls the innings and allows the others to bat around him. He is also a wonderfully athletic fielder with a powerful arm, and in many ways is the fire to Dhoni’s ice within the Indian set-up.
One to Watch: Jasprit Bumrah
Within a month and a half of his India debut in a One-Day International in Australia, Jasprit Bumrah has established himself as the leader of the pace attack with a succession of impressive performances against all-comers. An unusual action that makes him difficult to pick, allied with his ability to duck the ball into right-handers at tremendous pace and to bowl the yorker with impeccable control, make him a captain’s delight both at the top of the innings and at the death.
Bumrah caught the eye with his exploits for Mumbai Indians in the Indian Premier League, but his success at the world stage has been equally impressive. He was a late inclusion in the team for the final ODI in Australia only because he couldn’t get a ticket to Adelaide and instead landed in Sydney. He celebrated his unexpected debut with the Steven Smith and James Faulkner on his way to two for 40 from 10 overs and hasn’t looked back since. He has 15 T20I wickets in 11 matches and a very impressive economy of 6.15.
#That6Hitter: Mahendra Singh Dhoni
There had been talk of Dhoni having lost his six-hitting mojo, but the Indian captain has comprehensively exploded that myth in recent times. The only captain to have hit 200 international sixes, Dhoni smashed fours sixes in 15 balls faced across four matches in the Asia Cup, and despatches pacemen and spinners alike with equal disdain. His international tally of sixes stands at 300, and in 55 T20I hits, he has hammered 30, most of them deep into the innings.
India was involved in the only bowl-out in World T20 history, defeating Pakistan 3-0 in the inaugural edition in South Africa in 2007
Alongside Pakistan, India has registered the second most number of wins in World T20 history – 18
Yuvraj Singh is the only batsman to have hit six sixes in an over in World T20 and T20I cricket
Suresh Raina is one of six players to have hit a century in World T20, in the 2010 edition against South Africa.
Key match: New Zealand
The only World T20 match between the teams came in the inaugural edition, and it was the only match that India lost in the competition, by 10 runs at the Wanderers Stadium. India have a very poor record against New Zealand, having lost all four T20Is between the teams. Brendon McCullum’s retirement might tilt the balance India’s way, but the host nation will be aware that it will need to be on top of its game in the opening game of the competition, in Nagpur, against a team they have never beaten in Twenty20 cricket.
What people are saying about them:
“In T20Is, we can play with this team anywhere in the world – three proper seamers, two spinners and, if needed, part-timers. We can bat till No. 8. It looks like a very balanced team.” – MS Dhoni, India captain
"The way they have played in recent times, the fact they are playing at home, the way they gel together as a team...yes, certainly they will start as favourites. But my honest advice is do not be complacent, don't take anything for granted, just keep on playing the way you are playing and surely I think the trophy will be India's." – Sunil Gavaskar, former India captain
“With Virat Kohli in supreme touch and the bowling fortified by the inclusion of Ashish Nehra and Jasprit Bumrah, India will be the team to beat on home soil.” – VVS Laxman, former India batsman
Pommie Mbangwa Prediction – Finals
Being at home is a big thing for India and they will be buoyed by the support of their country. They have lots of talent but it is in the bowling where they might struggle if the pitches do not turn. I however feel that they are very capable of finding a way on their own turf to make it to the final. Dhoni is a particularly smart operator and in Virat Kohli, Suresh Raina, Ajinkye Rahane and R Ashwin, just to name a few players, he has the tools.
Squad: Mahendra Singh Dhoni (capt, wk), Shikhar Dhawan, Rohit Sharma, Virat Kohli, Suresh Raina, Yuvraj Singh, Hardik Pandya, Ravindra Jadeja, R Ashwin, Jasprit Bumrah, Ashish Nehra, Harbhajan Singh, Pawan Negi, Ajinkya Rahane, Mohammed Shami.
Tuesday March 15: v New Zealand, VCA Stadium, Nagpur
Saturday March 19: v Pakistan, HPCA Stadium, Dharamsala
Wednesday March 23: v Group A Qualifier, M Chinnaswamy Stadium, Bengaluru
Sunday March 27: v Australia, PCA Stadium, Mohali