T20 World Cup 2022: SWOT analysis of India squad
After the early and undignified T20 World Cup 2021 egress, the champions of the inaugural edition must be hurting and would love to redeem themselves in the eighth edition.
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"Redemption is complete. Australia have beaten England with five to nothing," exclaimed Mark Nicholas on air as a Ryan Harris delivery took the outside half of Boyd Rankin's bat and made it to the secure hands of Australia skipper Michael Clarke standing at second slip. Australia clinched the 2013/14 Ashes 5-0.
Although no one did, had someone asked the Aussies to trade their Ashes 2013/14 win even with all the wealth in the world, they would have vehemently denied it.
Why so? Well, obviously because of the historical significance of the urn. But more importantly, the series win had come after a string of three excruciating Ashes series losses, including one in their backyard in 2010/11.
Redemption is up there with one of the most eagerly sought-after emotions in the world. The mere opportunity to achieve redemption doesn't come easily, let alone redemption itself. After conceding the urn to the Poms in 2009, Ricky Ponting's Australia got the opportunity to regain it a year later down under but couldn't.
They were deprived of it until a motivated bunch of troops under Clarke's leadership reclaimed it in 2013/14.
Quite similarly, India led by Rohit Sharma have an invaluable shot at redemption as they gear up for the T20 mega carnival. After the early and undignified T20 World Cup 2021 egress, the champions of the inaugural edition must be hurting and would love to redeem themselves in the eighth edition.
The 'R' factor:
One of the primary reasons why none of the sides participating in the T20 World Cup 2022 will take India lightly is because of their opening pair of KL Rahul and Rohit Sharma. Forged in 2016, the kind of record the pair wields speaks volumes about its proficiency.
With 1809 runs across 36 innings, Rahul and Rohit are only behind Mohammad Rizwan and Babar Azam in the list of highest overall partnership runs by a pair in T20Is.
Another staggering record that they have to their credit is the mind-boggling average at which they have aggregated all the runs - 51.68. Rahul and Rohit's average as a pair is second only to Rizwan and Babar's (54.38) among the pairs that have put together 1000 T20I runs or more.
Another facet that stands out about the Indian duo is that it is known to put up humongous stands and pushes the other team out of the contest. Rohit and Rahul have been involved in five century partnerships and ten fifty-plus stands.
They were in red hot form recently when India took on South Africa in the second T20I in Guwahati on Sunday, October 2 as they got India off to a flyer with the help of a 96-run stand.
India's middle-order is an extension of their formidable opening pair. Wearing an indomitable look, it features two world-class batters in Virat Kohli and Suryakumar Yadav.
Virat 'the T20I batter' doesn't need any introduction as his numbers alone define his dominance in the format. 3712 runs across 109 games at a phenomenal average of 50.84, Virat has been a run machine in the format. He has the highest average (50.84) among batters who have scored 2500 runs or more in the format.
On the other hand, Suryakumar is experiencing a purple patch that any batter in the format will envy. India's 360-degree batter is looking even more threatening with every outing in the format and the numbers justify that.
The 32-year-old batter has notched up 1045 runs across 32 innings at an eye-popping strike rate of 176.81 in T20Is. But his 2022 numbers are enough to send chills down any bowler's spine.
In 23 outings in 2022, he has amassed 801 runs at a jaw-dropping strike rate of 184.56. Not only his strike rate has improved, but his average of 34.85 (2021) has also jumped to 40.05 (in 2022). He surpassed Shikhar Dhawan's record of the most runs scored by an Indian batter in T20Is in a calendar year in the first T20I against South Africa in Guwahati - a stat that gives you an idea of Suryakumar's meteoric rise in the format.
Finishers with great finesse:
Matches in T20 cricket quite frequently go down the wire as compared to the other two formats. Therefore, it requires teams to have a henchman down the order who could turn the screws on the opposition and win unwinnables.
Having one is a must, if there are two then you can breathe a sigh of relief even if you lose your top-order batters early. In Hardik Pandya and Dinesh Karthik, India have two fabulous finishers who assure to get the job done against all odds. While Dinesh has been striking it at 150.82 this year, Hardik has been smoking the ball at 151.38.
Both batters understand their roles really well. The duo complements each other in the middle and it seems to be rubbing off on the team exceedingly well.
Spinners in a spin:
One of the things that are ailing India is the way their spinners have responded to pressure recently. Yuzvendra Chahal, who was billed as India's premier spinner ahead of the T20 World Cup is in dire need of wickets.
The right-arm leg-break bowler's recent outings have been rife with struggle. Barring the game against Sri Lanka in the Asia Cup 2022 where he picked up a three-fer, Chahal hasn't been able to dent the opposition much.
He could only fetch four wickets in as many matches during the intracontinental tournament in the UAE recently and couldn't put the brakes on the run rate either as he leaked runs at a rate of 7.93. With two wickets across three games, the 32-year-old leggie was deprived of wickets in the three-match T20I series against Australia too.
On the other hand, Ravichandran Ashwin, who is trying to get his mojo back in the shortest format has been bowling well but lacks enough numbers in the wickets column. Ashwin could only manage two wickets in the Asia Cup and failed to grab a single wicket in the three-match T20I series against the Proteas despite featuring in all the games.
Although Axar Patel, who has been roped in as a replacement for Ravindra Jadeja was instrumental during the Australia series with eight scalps, will the wickets in Australia suit his style of bowling is something that we are all curious to see.
Cheating death? umm... not really
Apart from spinners' form, the other thing that's been plaguing India is their gig at the death. India have played 32 T20Is in 2022 thus far and conceded 40 or more runs 14 times at the death (in the last four overs). Out of those 14 occasions, seven times they leaked fifty or more runs in the last four overs.
Apart from the obvious one to reclaim the trophy that's been eluding the Men in Blue since 2007, there are some other opportunities too that can't be left unnoticed.
The Hardik and Stokes debate:
Both Hardik Pandya and Ben Stokes are two of the best all-rounders in world cricket at the moment.
While Stokes' meteoric rise saw him put the debacle of the 2016 T20 World Cup final behind him and play a major role in helping England win their first-ever 50-overs World Cup trophy in 2019 on home soil, Hardik has also been burning the candle at both ends (bowling and batting) in Indian colours and scripting some unforgettable match-winning performances.
But still, the cricketing fraternity seems quite divided on the debate. While former players like Lance Klusener and Rashid Latif believe that Hardik still needs to improve as a player to attain the level that England's red-ball captain has attained, Shane Watson rates the Indian ace all-rounder way ahead as compared to Stokes in T20 cricket.
Although the debate is likely to continue till the two do not draw curtains on their T20 careers if Hardik manages to end India's nine-year-long drought at an ICC event the pendulum might just shift on his side.
Whose crown is it anyway?
Quite akin to Hardik and Stokes, the Suryakumar and Rizwan debate is burning brightly. While Rizwan has scored 821 runs in 18 matches played this year, Suryakumar is only 20 runs behind him with 820 runs in 23 games. Both occupy the first and second positions on the top-run-getters chart in T20Is in 2022.
With Suryakumar quite close to edging Rizwan as the number one ranked T20I batter in the men's circuit, Fans and experts seem pretty divided as to who is the better T20I batter and the T20 carnival might as well provide a concrete answer.
A void of gargantuan proportion:
Bumrah's absence is a huge setback for the Rohit Sharma-led side as it exposes their death bowling frailty. The 28-year-old pacer has been India's go-to option at the death, and a career economy rate of 6.62 suggests that he has lived up to the expectations thus far.
His unavailability can jolt India's T20 World Cup 2022 campaign in two ways. Bumrah's presence in the playing XI gives India a major psychological advantage as not many batters in the international circuit fancy their chances against India's pace spearhead. Hence, his absence deprives India of that advantage.
Secondly, Indian batters will be under pressure to post a mammoth total every time they'll bat first and that's because they also understand that in Bumrah's absence the Indian bowling line-up will require a thicker cushion in terms of runs on the board. Although India well and truly have the firepower to achieve the same, the pressure of the same in every outing might just act as a rift in the lute and trigger a batting collapse.