SPECIAL 2022: Golden Chance for Team India at T20

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Rohit Sharma and Rahul Dravid will have to make sure that the players focus on the bright future ahead, rather than living in the past…writes Avinash Kr Atish

The T20 World Cup in 2022 gets underway in less than a year in Australia, and India will have a tricky yet golden chance to win the title under Rohit Sharma’s captaincy and Rahul Dravid’s coaching, giving the fans an opportunity to celebrate sometime big after eight long years.

It was back in 2013 when the MS Dhoni-led Team India won the ICC Champions Trophy after beating hosts England in the final. Since then, the ‘Men in Blue’ have participated in many ICC events, but have failed to get the silverware.

Fans have seen individual brilliance by the likes of Virat Kohli, Rohit Sharma, Rishabh Pant, Hardrik Pandya, Jasprit Bumrah and others in bilateral series, but somehow these ‘superstars’ haven’t done justice with their talent when the team required it the most, i.e., at mega ICC events.

India entered the 2021 T20 World Cup in Dubai as one of the favourites, but failed to make the semifinals because of a combination of factors, including a flawed team, poor luck and many external factors as well.

PIc credits ANI

The last month of the year also saw many off-field controversies, which can definitely affect the team’s dressing room environment, as well as the future of Indian cricket.

However, as it is often said, ‘let bygones be bygones’, and Team India will exactly need to do that.

Rohit Sharma and Rahul Dravid will have to make sure that the players focus on the bright future ahead, rather than living in the past.

India have a very good record in T20 cricket in Australia and everyone, including the BCCI and fans, have huge expectations from the experienced duo of Dravid-Sharma to end the title drought next year.

Here are a few things which will be crucial for India going into the 2022 T20 World Cup, to be played in October and November in Australia:

Rohit Sharma

Rohit Sharma – The Batter and the Captain

Rohit has been one of the best white ball cricketers in the world in the past decade or so, and he will have to carry forward the golden run in the World Cup in Australia as well. Not only he needs to concentrate on his batting, but the skipper also needs to fix with whom he is going to team up at the top of the order.

As of now, K.L. Rahul looks certain, but things change very quickly in Indian cricket, considering the talent pool the country has. The likes of Ruturaj Gaikwad, Ishan Kishan and Prithvi Shaw have consistently done well and are waiting in the wings for the much-needed break.

Sharma (34) has proven his mettle as an IPL captain by winning five titles with Mumbai Indians. He has also led India to series victories in Nidahas Trophy and Asia Cup when regular skipper Virat Kohli was on a break. However, this is going to be the biggest challenge for the experienced campaigner, as he has very less time to prepare a solid team while trying various things prior to the mega event.

Virat Kohli

Virat Kohli 2.0

India Test skipper Kohli hasn’t been at his absolute best with the bat in the last two years. But if India wants to lift the trophy in Australia, they need their premier batter in red-hot form.

Over the years, Kohli has taken the Aussie challenge very well and produced exceptional results for the team, whether its white ball or red ball cricket.

The Australian pitches also go well with the batting style of Virat and Indian cricket fans will love to see him excel with the bat in the T20 World Cup next year.

Clarity in Roles and Security

Since the beginning of T20 cricket, it has seen players do well when they are given clear roles and are allowed to perform those roles – repeatedly – without the fear of failure. Nobody becomes an expert overnight. They perform the same task repeatedly across conditions and situations to master the art.

Likewise, to believe that one can defend 10 runs from the last over or score 30 runs in the last two overs requires a player to have performed that role repeatedly.

If a player has been selected to make the most of the Powerplay, or be a defensive bowler, or bowl yorker after yorker at the death, he needs to fail in that role for 10-odd matches before being axed. The duo of Dravid and Rohit needs to provide that space to the Indian players. The management needs to identify the right players and their back-ups, define the roles well, and stick to that plan till the end of the World Cup.

Abu Dhabi: Mumbai Indians players celebrates the wicket of Eoin Morgan of Kolkata Knight Riders during match 5 of season 13 of the Dream 11 Indian Premier League (IPL) between the Kolkata Knight Riders and the Mumbai Indians held at the Sheikh Zayed Stadium, Abu Dhabi in the United Arab Emirates on the 23rd September 2020. (Photo: BCCI/IPL)

Capitalising on IPL Performances

The IPL is a great place for young cricketers to show their talent against quality opposition and under pressure. Over the years, the cash-rich league has produced some exceptional cricketers, but many of them have failed to deliver the goods at the international stage.

India last won the ICC T20 World Cup in 2007, one year before the start of the IPL. Somehow, the Indian think-tanks have not been able to capitalise on the brilliant performances by players in the IPL. And for that to change, the selection policy needs to alter. Numbers in the IPL should not be the sole criteria for selection to the national team.

The roles they play, the conditions and the quality of opposition vary at different levels. If a player performs the same role for both his IPL team and the national team, his chances of success are much higher. And, it is also a good idea to give talented young cricketers a second year in the IPL to see how they cope against better plans by the opposition, which they will face in international cricket.

Studying Playing Conditions in Advance

Unlike Test series or ODI World Cups, the T20 World Cup does not offer one too many opportunities to come back after a loss. So, it would be a good idea from the Indian team management to send scouts and analysts to study the conditions in Australia during the Big Bash League and other international matches, and understand the specific skills required to succeed Down Under.

This information gained could prove valuable in terms of team selection and preparation for the big tournament.

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