NEW DELHI: The 2022 ICC Men’s T20 World Cup is officially in progress with the Super 12 stage also getting underway. But for the 1.3 billion Indian fans and their Pakistani neighbours, the real action begins on the 23rd October when the two archrivals play each other in Melbourne in what will be the opening match for both teams.
In the last edition in the UAE too, India had opened their campaign against Pakistan. This time though they will be hoping for a major change in fortunes, considering the last T20 World Cup clash against the arch rivals ended in a 10 wicket loss. The crushing defeat in Dubai, almost exactly a year ago (on 24th October 2021), started the downfall for one of the tournament favourites India as they failed to reach the knock-out stages after losing their second match as well against New Zealand.

Team India are in Australia under a new captain in Rohit Sharma and a new coach Rahul Dravid. Six players of the 15-member 2021 squad are not part of this year’s team, with two of them missing out due to injury (Ravindra Jadeja and Jasprit Bumrah). Despite the changes, the core of the team remains almost intact.

With fans hoping for an end to India’s ICC trophy drought, Team India is set to embark on another journey to win the coveted World Cup. But the path won’t be easy, and there remain a few concerns.
Here TimesofIndia.com highlights three top concerns for Team India ahead of theIr tournament opener vs Pakistan:
Death bowling
In the last 12 months since the 2021 T20 World Cup, India have embarked on a journey to find the best possible squad to win the 2022 edition. In fact, India have played as many as 32 T20Is in 2022 so far, winning 23 of them. But one major concern that has given sleepless nights to the team and their fans ahead of the big event is ineffective bowling in the death overs in recent times.
India have given away the advantage multiple times, both while bowling first and bowling second, to their opponents by leaking runs freely in the last four overs or so of the innings. And the injury to Bumrah has compounded the issue for the 2007 champions.

Bhuvneshwar Kumar (Image credit: BCCI)
India’s most successful T20 bowler since the last T20 World Cup, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, who took 35 wickets in 27 games during the period, has failed to live upto the expectations in the death overs. For example, his 31 runs in two overs (15 in 17th over & 16 in the 19th) enabled Australia to chase down 209 in the recently concluded series in India. Similarly, he conceded 19 runs in the 19th over in the Asia Cup, which helped Pakistan chase down 182.
In Bumrah’s absence, the responsibility to bowl in the death overs came down to Bhuvneshwar, Mohammed Shami, Arshdeep Singh and Harshal Patel.
Lack of left-handed batters threatens to make batting one-dimensional
India are going into the tournament with almost the same batting line-up as in the 2021 edition. Rohit Sharma and KL Rahul as openers, followed by Virat Kohli, Suryakumar Yadav, Hardik Pandya, Dinesh Karthik/Rishabh Pant. On paper, it is a formable batting line-up, but except for Pant all are right-handed batters, making the line-up quite one-dimensional.

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Suryakumar Yadav and Virat Kohli (AFP Photo)
A lot has changed in the last one year, but opponents can still have a single plan for the India batters as they did in the last edition. The absence of Jadeja in the lower order will have a big impact too. Axar Patel, Jadeja’s replacement, will have to play the role but will he be as impactful as the Saurashtra all-rounder will be a big concern for the team.
KL Rahul (194 runs in 5 innings) and Rohit Sharma (174 runs in 5 innings) were the top run-getters for India in the last T20 World Cup, and they will need similar explosive starts this time to remain in contention for their first ICC trophy in almost a decade.
Fielding
Under the captaincy of the supremely fit Virat Kohli, Team India took its fitness to another level and that reflected in their fielding too. But of late the standard of fielding has gone down gradually for Team India, with misfields and drop catches are once again becoming a regular feature.

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(Photo by Stu Forster/Getty Images)
Here too the absence of Jadeja will hurt the team. Jadeja is a true three-dimensional player for India, with his impactful batting and bowling to go with jaw-dropping fielding capabilities. He is one of the few in the game who is able to hit the stumps regularly from difficult angles to affect run-outs, along with guarding the boundary line effectively.
While India has the likes of Virat and Hardik who are livewires on the field, others too need to step up to the plate.
In a big tournament like the T20 World Cup, a run-out out of the blue or a half a dozen boundary line saves can change the course of the game. The likes of Yuzvendra Chahal, Bhuvneshwar, Harshal, Arshdeep, Axar etc have to pull up their socks while fielding.

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By Dipak

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