India becoming the Number 1 T20 team in the world has made news. Its great, but what has to be realised is that teams play very few International T20 games. A few wins can take a lower ranked team higher while a few losses can take a top ranked team several places down. Exactly this happened recently. India’s 3 wins versus Australia at Australia resulted in a 8th ranked India jumping to 1st spot while Australia slid to 8th spot. In this context let us also remember and keep in mind Novak Djokovich’s analogy about a hungry wolf at the top of mountain while there are hungrier wolves waiting and wanting to reach the top. This is applicable to both individual as well as team sport.
Therefore, without thinking about the rankings too much, what one should so is concentrate on the next tasks/jobs at hand. Whats next ? There is a T20 series versus Sri Lanka at home, the T20 Asia Cup and finally the T20 World Cup. This means that India have got their plans and preparation for the T20 world Cup correct, since after 5 ODI’s versus Australia we played 3 T20’s versus them and thereafter will play 3 T 20’s versus Sri Lanka at home followed by Asia Cup T20 at Bangladesh.
Lets take a look at the T20 series ahead and have a sort of preview/analysis with regard to different aspects of the sport, namely Batting, bowling, allrounders, fielding and Captaincy.
Batting. There seem to be no worries at all. Virat Kohli who is in the prime form of his life has been rested. However Rohit Sharma who showed remarkable consistency like Kohli is there. Shikhar Dhawan with his 9 ball 26 in the 3rd T20 versus Australia and his taking apart the fast and erratic Shaun Tait has shown that Gabbar is back. Suresh Raina too has demonstrated that in T20 he remains a force to reckon with while Yuvraj can only get better and better with more games. As for Dhoni, he can be expected to play the X factor. Jinks will definitely get a chance to play and it will be interesting at which spot he plays in. With Manish Panday too in the squad there seems to be a problem of plenty which definitely is a good thing to have.
My View. Playing Yuvraj at 4 or even 3 in place of Kohli would be ideal in my view. If Jinks is to be played at 3, then Yuvi definitely has to play at 4. Who knows, he could be the difference between World Cup Win or/and simply being a participant host. Dhoni seems to have full faith in him, so lets hope the skipper plays him at 4. Manish Panday i feel has to wait.
Bowling. Umesh Yadav has been dropped and Bhuvaneswar Kumar (BK) got back from fractured thumb injury. The veteran Nehra and youngster Bumrah are there and the bowling looks ok. As regards spin, there is an embarrassment of riches, with Ashwin, Jadeja, Bhajja and new selection Negi being available. Probably we may go in with 3 spinners. I would like Bhajji to play all the 3 matches as he in his own way can be a match-winner many times over.
Allrounders Rishi Dhawan and Gurkeerat have been dropped. However in the 1st place itself they were selected as cover for the injured BK and Rahane who are now back in the squad. Hardik Pandya seems to have the Captain’s confidence. Interestingly Hardik calls himself a batting allrounder. Lets see if he can walk the talk. Otherwise too, in allrounder category we can include Yuvi, jadeja and even bhajji and Negi so there seems not much worries in this front, with even Suresh Raina and Rohit Sharma capble of bowling an over or two.
Captaincy. The shorter the format, the more comfortable MSD seems to be, so no issues. I wish however he does these 2 things, play Yuvraj higher, and play Bhajji. Lets see.
Now a quick look at the opposition. Sri Lanka is being captained by the talented Dinesh Chandimal who is one of the talented young batsmen in world cricket today. He is also one of the few players who has and can shine in all 3 formats. For instance he scored an ODI ton vs India in only his second ODI and followed it up with an ODI ton at Lords versus England. In Tests he scored 50”s in both iniungs of his debut test Versus SA at Durban, a test which SL won. In T20 he has flopped so far with only one 50 in 31 matches and a horrid average of 13. This time he has a chance to show his mettle. He will be helped by 2 stalwarts Dilshan and Dilhara Fernando. Being a young team Sri Lanka is not to be taken lightly.
Looking forward to 9th, 12th and 14th of February and at least a 2-1 win to keep us on track for World T-20 Cup 2016.