This Indian squad cannot win the T20 World Cup




Over the years, the Indian T20 team’s biggest problem has been its inability to win matches batting first.

The main reason for this inability is the presence of three format batters who cannot hit fours and sixes throughout the innings.

T20 batting is based on boundaries and that ability is cultivated with a single-minded focus, not by playing three different formats. I would partly blame BCCI’s stubbornness in stopping its players from participating in other T20 leagues for the country’s lack of range hitters.

So, a player with a T20-focused career is limited to playing only in the IPL. As this is not a commercially viable option for many players, they end up playing Ranji trophy matches and other long-format competitions to fill their calendars.

The other problem for the Indian team is their faith in single-dimensional cricketers. India has often played nine or ten single-skilled players. They have consistently fielded teams comprising players with zero batting ability at numbers 8 to 11.

With this kind of lower order, the top and middle orders instinctively slow down after early losses of wickets.

The BCCI has consistently failed to cultivate T20-capable batters and all-rounders over the past 15 years. Without a clear focus that starts from the grassroots, a rewarding career path playing only T20, such players cannot be created out of thin air and made available for World Cups.

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India’s T20 World Cup squad
Rohit Sharma, KL Rahul, Virat Kohli, Suryakumar Yadav, Deepak Hooda, Rishabh Pant, Dinesh Karthik, Hardik Pandya, R. Ashwin, Yuzuvendra Chahal, Axar Patel, Jasprit Bumrah, Bhuvaneshwar Kumar, Harshal Patel, Arshdeep Singh

This is a conservatively picked team by a selection group that believes in loading up with single-dimensional players. The team is yet another manifestation of the thought process that has kept Indian T20 cricket down since 2007.

The moment Rahul and Kohli were picked for the Asia Cup, the writing was on the wall.

By playing this set of players, the selectors have painted themselves into a corner, with neither a world champion T20 batting nor bowling unit.

The batting unit has solid technicians who will ensure that the team makes at least 140 to 150 under all conditions. However, the team does not possess lusty six-hitters who can take the team to unassailable scores in the range of 190 and above.

The team has only Hardik Pandya, who has proven on the international stage that he can hit the big ones, in the middle order. The selectors have kept their faith in Dinesh Karthik to come good on the big stage and replicate his IPL finishing routine. So far, DK has failed to convert all his opportunities, starting from Champions Trophy 2013, to come good in a world tournament.

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The team’s best chance is to bat second and chase a target. The unit has experienced batters who will be forced to adapt their game to the chase. Without the clarity of an asking rate, the team often underachieves while batting first.

The top seven have to score all the runs, although the return of Ravichandran Ashwin gives some hope of a few runs at eight.

Ravichandran Ashwin

Ravichandran Ashwin (Photo by Peter Mundy/Speed Media/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

The lack of mystery in the bowling is a severe drawback. Despite all the money and interest, India has failed to unearth a Mujeeb Ur Rahman, Rashid Khan, or Wanindu Hasaranga, who bring mystery to the crease.

Except for Jasprit Bumrah, all the other bowlers are medium-pace or orthodox spin bowlers. India can expect four reliable overs from Bumrah, but the other 16 can go for any number of runs.

Neither the batting nor the bowling is gifted enough to seal the deal, a problem that has been caused not by bad luck but by poor management.

Unless the stars line up favourably, this team will fail to enter the semi-finals. Their best chance is if they get to chase against the big teams in their pool and hope their batting clicks.

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My preferred XI for game one
Rohit Sharma, Rishabh Pant, Virat Kohli, Suryakumar Yadav, KL Rahul, Dinesh Karthik, Hardik Pandya, R. Ashwin, Jasprit Bumrah, Bhuvaneshwar Kumar, Arshdeep Singh

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