For a team that feasts on Twenty20 cricket, India’s performance on the world stage with regards to the shortest form of the game has been disappointing.
After Mahendra Singh Dhoni lifted the first ICC World Twenty20 trophy on beating Pakistan in a thriller at the Wanderers in Johannesburg in 2007, Captain Cool has not been able to get near the prize in the 2009 and 2010 editions — all the Indian Premier League and Champions League experience notwithstanding.
Indian cricket fans will remember how the 2009 campaign in England was thwarted by Dhoni’s reported row with vice-captain Sehwag.
Sri Lanka provides India a good chance to regain the silverware. Firstly, India won’t have to battle the conditions considering they have played a lot in Sri Lanka recently. Secondly – and probably, more importantly – India have a more than capable side whose ammunition is enviable and extremely destructive.
The worry is in the bowling department. Zaheer Khan is not the sharpest opening bowler around and Irfan Pathan has returned without much of his swing. If the opening bowlers go for more than 10 an over then even Silas Marner will struggle to be miserly in the middle of the innings. Probably, Dhoni will think of opening the bowling with a spinner.
India’s fielding is a bit unpredictable, but it must be nothing short of brilliant to clinch the prize.
The T20 game is as fickle as they come and even good teams (Australia – thrice world champions in the 50-50 format have yet to win a World Twenty20) can struggle if they come across a batsman who gets his timing right on the day. However, good teams should be able to make the semi-finals. Whatever happens from there on could be a lottery. India need both pluck and luck.