From cricket experts to greats of the game to present and past captains, everyone is picking India as favourite for coming ICC T20 World Cup. It is being taken for granted that India will at least make it to semifinals of the tournament if not winning it but is it going to be as easy as it is perceived?
India is in group comprising of current ODI World Champions Australia, In-form New Zealand, unpredictable Pakistan and pumped up Bangladesh. India is also buoyed by recent success in T20 cricket: winning 10 out of 11 T20 matches played in 2016.
India beat Australia 3-0 and in the euphoria of white wash of Aussies, it is forgotten that it was almost second string team that Australia fielded in the series. The current Australian squad which has arrived for World Cup is a real threat to team India’s chances of winning tournament. Australia is packed with power hitter, all-rounders and bowlers who are T20 specialist. This team has vast experience of playing in Indian condition and they are no longer vulnerable against spinners; all thanks to their regular participation in IPL. Contest between India and Australia would certainly be fascinating. India will have to be at their best to beat Aussies at Mohali because Mohali is known for its lively pitch and lightning fast outfield which would favour Aussies.
New Zealand is a team which is full of flamboyant cricketers, retirement of B Mccullum has dented their morale but certainly has not made them any lesser team. M Guptil with his scintillating batting has taken place of B McCullum. Players like Kane Williamson is best in run making business and players like Ross Taylor, Colin Munro and Corey Anderson can change any match on its head. Their pace battery is also full of talented bowlers but they play against India at Nagpur which is famous for it’s slow and low pitch that will assist Indian spinners. New Zealand players are not good at playing spin and their vulnerability against spin was once again on display when they played against England in warm up match. English spinners exposed blackcaps vulnerability, giving just 45 runs in 8 overs and picking 4 wickets. Although conditions will definitely favour India but it is to be noted that India has never beaten New Zealand in T20 international.
When it comes to Indo-Pak match to be played at Eden Gardens, there is interesting stat to look into. Pakistan has never beaten India at World Cup but India’s record against Pakistan at Eden Gardens is just awful. India has never beaten Pakistan in limited over cricket at Eden gardens and out of total 11 international match played, India has managed to beat Pakistan just once at Eden Gardens. On current form, India is favourite against Pakistan but India has to be aware of which Pakistan comes out against India on that day. The one which can beat even World Champions on a given day or the one which can be easily beaten by associate nation. Team which has hold their nerve will win the match as Indo-Pak match is often more about nerves.
Bangladesh, which has qualified to Super 10, are buoyed by their recent success that they got in limited over cricket. They beat India comprehensively in last ODI series that they played and stretched India till the last before conceding defeat in Asia Cup T20 final. They have grown in confidence and have developed a belief under Mashrafe Mortaza that they can beat India. Dhoni said few days back that it takes 10-15 matches to develop a winning habit but only 10-15 minutes to lose the momentum. So any laxity by team India against Bangladesh may lead to an embarrassing defeat and can lead to downward spiral.
Other group has teams like South Africa and West Indies which consists of players like Ab de Villiers, Chris Gayle, D Bravo, D Sammy, D Miller, A Russell, Faf du Plessis, JP Duminy, who have taken T20 cricket to another level with their skills and super human effort. They have lighten up IPL with their performances in past 8 years. India is no longer alien to them, it’s their second home. They are threat to any team and especially to India and can ruin dream of a billion people in just few balls.
In five edition of ICC T20 World Cup, no host has lifted the trophy so far. India need to be at their best and will also need luck in their side to defy all odds and make it to the finals and win it. As it stands today, history and stats are against team India. but Dhoni would be last man on the earth to be intimated by history and stats, he lives in present and writes his own script and may be in this T20 World Cup he will write a script that all of India would be proud, may be another match winning six at Kolkata on 3rd April 2016 is in store for us but it will definitely not be easy .
This article has also been published here at sportskeeda.