WT20: Team India preview ahead of clash against New Zealand on Tuesday
Nagpur: Mahendra Singh Dhoni & Co have prepared diligently to get the right ingredients in place before they kick off their campaign against New Zealand here on Thursday, in their quest to become the only team to clinch the ICC World T20 for the second time in the history of the shortest format. It's just a matter of mixing the ingredients perfectly to get the desired taste.
Mohammed Shami and India's Jasprit Bumrah bowls during the practice game against West Indies at Eden Gardens in Kolkata on Thursday (Pic/PTI)
The Men in Blue have hardly put a foot wrong since they lost the two T20 games against South Africa last December. In three T20I series thereafter against Australia, Sri Lanka and the Asia Cup T20, India have ironed out their flaws.
No one-man show
Instead of relying only on one batsman to fire, like it happened during the South Africa T20 series, now, there are at least three to four prime contributors in the batting department. Having the batting till the No 8 and No 9 position is an added advantage.
Good on pace
Pace bowling was for long considered to be India's weak link. But with the arrival of Jasprit Bumrah and Hardik Pandya, combined with the experience of Ashish Nehra and Mohammed Shami, the pace unit is the strength of Dhoni's team. While Bumrah solves Team India's death bowling concerns, Pandya is the answer to Dhoni's long-pending plea for a pace-bowling all-rounder. With bowlers performing their roles to perfection, the only headache now, is how to fit Shami, returning to the squad after a long injury lay-off.
Spin bowling has been enhanced further with Ravichandran Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja hunting in pairs on a consistent basis. Add to this the experience of Harbhajan Singh, if Dhoni requires his services at all in the tournament. If the need arises, the India skipper can also call on rookie Pawan Negi, who was impressive (2-15) against the West Indies in the first warm-up match at Kolkata's Eden Gardens.
Dhoni also has valuable part-time spinners like Yuvraj Singh and Suresh Raina in his arsenal. They have come handy in breaking partnerships and can also get through their overs quickly.
Team India's T20 strengths have now been tested under all conditions — pace and bounce of Australia, spin-friendly Indian surfaces and green tops in Bangladesh during the Asia Cup T20. They have also chased and defended scores successfully. Even with different combinations, Dhoni's men have shown that they can be nearly perfect in implementing their plans.
India did not play the experienced bowling duo of Nehra and Ashwin, but still managed to keep South Africa's score under 200 on a flat Wankhede track in their second warm-up match on Saturday, which the hosts lost by four runs.
"We've got depth in our side in both batting and bowling. We also have a very good all-rounder in Hardik. That is a big positive," said Shikhar Dhawan. "Yuvraj's presence makes a huge difference for youngsters and of course, his experience comes in handy. That is why everyone is rating us as favourites. We have been winning consistently and it gives us a lot of confidence."