At the start of the Asia Cup, M.S Dhoni was reported to have spasms which put a doubt over his participation. The Indian captain not playing would have unsettled the plans Team India had for the Asia Cup i.e. to test the playing eleven for the World Cup T20.
He opted to play the tournament instead of nursing the injury till the time he was completely fit. After four wins, it appears his injury remained a scare and not threatening enough to put him out of the playing XI.
In these four matches, Indian team has fielded its best eleven and tested out the reserve players. In that sense, Dhoni has put his cards down on the table and by that he has sent out a message – “This is the team we are playing with.”
It is a luxury when the team is settled as the management can now focus more on the tactics and individual players can fine tune their skill sets. They can visualise their roles better, plan specific strategies and keep their minds fresh. In T20s, this has been a rarity for India which explains their poor turn-outs at the shorter version in the World Cups.
In 2007, a squad comprising mostly of youngsters arrived in South Africa having played just one T20 international. It didn’t have Tendulkar, Dravid and Ganguly. Notable misses were Zaheer Khan and Anil Kumble. Some termed it, T20 was a youngster’s game, an opinion formed by the term fresh associated with young. Dhoni captained the side and India went on to win the tournament having lost one match. T20 took a new avatar, cricket took a new direction.
Since then, there have been 4 editions of T20 World Cup and India were finalists only once. In spite of the IPL, things were not right for the Indian team. Finally, that has been rectified for this edition. They have picked a team for the T20 World Cup and not ODI side transforming into the mini-format.
Ashish Nehra, Yuvraj Singh, Harbhajan Singh are in the squad purely as T20 specialists. All are in mid-30’s and yet they remain the best options for India this year. The form they displayed in the domestic Syed Mustaq Ali trophy was the clincher for these veterans.
Horses for courses is a time-tested adage and Indian selectors have finally got it right. This means, no room for the likes of Manish Pandey in the playing XI and that seems alright.
There is more logic to approaching to T20 than people give credit, as time is a constraint. Not just the playing ability, it is also a highly calculative game. It is comparable to playing gully-cricket where overs are limited. Batsmen combine to gather maximum runs, bowlers take wickets and restrict runs while the fielding team knows, even a single run saved is precious.
Very few teams have adopted to this demanding format. India seem to have solved their problems at last. The team might win or lose on a given day – that’s the nature of any sport. But, this team has it in them to bounce back and that’s what matters for any team with aspirations. This Indian team has the aspirations to win their second T20 World Cup.
Before that, they have a Asia Cup to win when they face Bangladesh this Sunday.