After over 14 years of hopes turning into despair, India are desperate to regain their T20 World Cup crown. The Indian team have not won the coveted ICC title since winning the tournament’s inaugural edition in 2007 in South Africa.
The Asian giants are hoping to break their longstanding trophy jinx with the forthcoming event, which will also be Virat Kohli’s final assignment as captain of India’s T20I side.
India will begin their campaign with a Super 12 encounter against arch-rivals Pakistan on October 24, followed by matches versus New Zealand (October 31), Afghanistan (November 3), preliminary qualifier B1 (November 5) and preliminary qualifier A2 (November 8).
All of India’s group matches barring the one against Afghanistan (Abu Dhabi) will be played in Dubai. Kohli’s team will not take the field in Sharjah.
Captain: Virat Kohli
Head coach: Ravi Shastri
Claim to fame: Winners (2007), finalists (2014), semi-finalists (2016)
Virat Kohli (c), Rohit Sharma, KL Rahul, Suryakumar Yadav, Rishabh Pant (wk), Ishan Kishan (wk), Hardik Pandya, Ravindra Jadeja, Rahul Chahar, Ravichandran Ashwin, Axar Patel, Varun Chakravarthy, Jasprit Bumrah, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Mohammad Shami
Standbys: Shreyas Iyer, Deepak Chahar, Shardul Thakur
Strengths: India’s biggest strength lies in the spin department. They have five frontline spinners in Jadeja, Axar, Chakravarthy, Ashwin and Chahar. The absence of Yuzvendra Chahal raised many eyebrows but India are still very well served, with their spin options covering bases for both right-hand and left-hand dominated opposition batting units for UAE surfaces that will further dry out by the middle of November.
Area of Concern: Batting, especially the middle-order, and fast-bowling departments are two major areas of concern for India. With Suryakumar Yadav, Ishan Kishan, Hardik Pandya and Rishabh Pant having indifferent IPL 2021, the middle-order suddenly looks shaky for Kohli and the company. In the top-order, presence of Rohit Sharma, KL Rahul and Kohli gives reassurance. But uncertainty around Kohli’s batting position and whether he will open with Rohit or Rahul will hold his post at the top is a matter that needs to be sorted out quickly.
In the pace department, the shortened nature of the tournament and the need to pick an extra spinner in UAE meant that the selectors went for only Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Jasprit Bumrah and Mohammed Shami. But Bhuvneshwar’s death-bowling execution has been on the wane and Shami has only just started improving his own in the IPL. Hardik’s bowling fitness and absence on the bowling front throughout the UAE leg of IPL 2021 is a massive worry. At this stage, only Bumrah looks India’s four-over bank in the fast bowling category.
1. Virat Kohli (Captain & top-order anchor)
India’s top-run getter in their last three T20 World Cup campaigns, captain Kohli will once again have to lead his team from the front. Kohli’s form has been iffy through the UAE leg of IPL 2021 but the great batter is expected to get back to his best in what will be his first and last aim as skipper for the T20 World Cup trophy. Kohli has made 777 runs from his 16 matches in T20 World Cup history at an average of 86.33 and strike-rate of 133.04.
2. Ravindra Jadeja (spin all-rounder)
Ravindra Jadeja has been an all-rounder on the rise in last couple of years. Jadeja, who was always a miserly left-arm spinner, has taken his power-hitting game to another level since the start of IPL 2020. The 32-year-old cricketer has made 459 runs in IPL since last year with an average of 57.37 and strike-rate of 157.73 and has backed his fantastic batting exploits with 16 wickets at an economy rate of 7.71, which is only 6.80 in IPL 2021. India will hope that Jadeja can replicate his rich vein of form at the World Cup.
3. Jasprit Bumrah (lead pacer)
Bumrah was only three months into his international career for India when he featured at the 2016 T20 World Cup. The unorthodox right-arm quick showed encouraging signs back then, maintaining an economy rate of 7.65 over 5 matches. Bumrah has now taken 59 wickets in his 49 innings of T20I cricket for India while going for just 6.66 runs per over. He will be heading into the upcoming iteration of the World Cup after a fantastic IPL 2021, haven taken 21 wickets from his 14 games at 7.45 runs per over.
Probable India Playing XI for ICC Men’s T20 World Cup 2021: Rohit Sharma (vc), KL Rahul, Virat Kohli (c), Suryakumar Yadav, Rishabh Pant (wk), Hardik Pandya, Ravindra Jadeja, Axar Patel, Varun Chakravarthy, Jasprit Bumrah, Bhuvneshwar Kumar
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