Will Team India continue to be T20 favourite?

Will Team India continue to be T20 favourite?

A loss, a ‘Virat-engineered’ win, a Bangladesh gift, another ‘Virat-engineered’ win! Clearly, this is the story of the Indian cricket team (popularly hailed as Team India) for the four group stage matches (Super 10 phase) of the ongoing T20 cricket world cup 2016 tournament. Despite not being at their best or even close, Team India has made it to the semi-finals. Yet, nobody is surprised, why? Because the team started out as the tournament favourites. But, have they lived up to their billing? Well, the answer would probably be a ‘No’, even when this was asked to the leader of the pack – MS Dhoni. 

A win is a win, no matter how India won the matches, either by an opposition collapse or the smartness of their ‘batman’, Virat Kohli! Having won 3 of them in ‘near’ knock-out matches, India is now in the actual knock-out phase of this exciting T20 world cup. Two more wins and India could become the first cricketing nation to win the T20 tournament for the second time. Can they do it? Team India has been pretty good so far with their fielding and catching, along with death-overs bowling. And this augurs well as they are yet to demonstrate their reckless determination with their strongest asset, batting.

If the law of averages is concerned, then most of the Indian batsmen besides Virat Kohli are due for a big innings, or shall we say a match-winning innings. Not to doubt the match-winning capabilities of Rohit Sharma or Shikhar Dhawan or Suresh Raina, especially in the T20 series. We are not even considering the hitting prowess of MSD, Hardik Pandya, and a fit Yuvraj Singh (though the consistent Rahane may replace him).

Some teams peak early, while some fail to peak at all. It is time for India to peak, and the three consecutive wins will give them ample confidence to win the next two matches. India’s last two World Cup winning campaigns (T20 WC in 2007 and 50-overs WC in 2011) witnessed Team India playing top-quality cricket toward the end of the tournament—the semi-finals and the finals. In those tournaments, the Indian team had lost one group stage match (against New Zealand in 2007 and against South Africa in 2011). Similarly, the current Indian team suffered one loss in this year’s tournament against New Zealand, and have only just started to play good cricket. Perhaps, it is an indication that the team is hitting form right on time!

Their next match (semi-final) is scheduled against the power hitters of West Indies at Mumbai’s Wankhede stadium, a happy hunting ground for the Indians, with great winning memories of the ODI World Cup final, 2011. While Indians are on a high having beaten the mighty Australians, the West Indies team just received a minor jolt in their amazing campaign when they lost their final group match (which was inconsequential) against Afghanistan. Wankhede stadium and the vociferous crowd support is likely to spur the Indian team to enter the finals at Eden Gardens, in Kolkata, one of the largest Indian grounds.

Regardless of the flawless manner in which New Zealand has played their matches and won every match in this World Cup or the confidence with which West Indies has thrashed its opponents or the aggressive wins of the Englishmen, the Indian team has a fantastic chance of lifting the T20 World Cup at Eden Gardens this April 03. They own players and more importantly, a leader, who knows how to win the World Cups!

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