T20 World Cup: India’s batting show has been modern and dynamic | Crickit
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T20 World Cup: India’s batting show has been modern and dynamic

BySanjay Manjrekar
Jun 23, 2024 11:08 PM IST

The brand of cricket India are playing in this WC is one we have never seen before, and something we are trying to come to terms with

It felt as though the Indian selectors played it safe with their selections for the T20 World Cup squad. In picking Rohit Sharma and Virat Kohli, it was a clear message that they were not yet ready to commit to the youth; they still wanted some experience around for an ICC event.

India's captain Rohit Sharma (c) and Virat Kohli celebrate their partnership during the Super 8 Group 1 match against Bangladesh (BCCI- X)
India's captain Rohit Sharma (c) and Virat Kohli celebrate their partnership during the Super 8 Group 1 match against Bangladesh (BCCI- X)

Having said that, the way India have batted so far conveys that even though selections have taken a more traditional and cautious route, the brand of cricket on show is going to be modern and dynamic.

In the game against Bangladesh, I watched with great fascination how fans in our studio reacted when India lost both Rohit and Virat early. Their faces reflected doom and gloom.

Having watched T20 cricket evolve rapidly over the last few years, I urged them to have a look at India’s run rate, not at wickets lost, and who it was that got out.

India were going at nine runs an over despite losing Rohit and Virat by the ninth over on a 150-par score pitch. India were going fine; they still had plenty of batting left — six batters, to be specific, with 11 overs to go.

The brand of cricket India are playing in this WC is one we have never seen before, and something we are trying to come to terms with.

To Virat’s credit, for someone who doesn’t like getting out (a trait that can be a weakness in T20 cricket), he has also committed himself to taking risks regularly and seems okay, as of now, with getting out while taking those risks.

India have got great batting depth this time. Perhaps it was a conscious decision from the selectors and team management while picking the squad, in that batting must run very deep, with bowlers who can bat and vice versa, an approach that England has had for many years, but in the wrong format — Tests.

When you have Axar Patel and Jadeja at number seven and eight, Virat and Rohit getting out in the first six overs is no longer a life-changing, game-defining moment.

In my preview of the tournament, I mentioned that an ICC event for India these days is not about India reaching the final stages, but about how India play in these final stages.

India have not had to overpower a single strong opposition to reach the semis. When they meet Australia in the last game of the Super 8s, it will be the first quality side they have had to face thus far.

In Rishabh, Hardik, Surya and Bumrah, India have four champion players who will thrive on the big stage, along with additions such as Dube, who will chip in to complete this new imagery of Indian T20 cricket. Rohit and Virat, when they eventually come to the party, will be a welcome bonus.

The key, however, is the approach. This current approach in which no one individual is unnecessarily trying to shoulder the burden, trying to play conservatively to avoid a possible debacle (which is often a figment of paranoid imagination), rather than focusing on what transpires.

Rohit and Virat are still obvious icons in this team and for its fans, but India, as we have seen in this WC, have moved on. It is now a team of 11, not just one or two. Come the semis, when the challenge gets stiffer and India play with the realisation that they will be knocked out of the tournament if they lose, Rohit and Virat must continue to embrace this attitude.

The last thing India want is a repeat of the semis of the last T20 WC when both Rohit and Virat took it upon themselves to be the ones to lead India’s fight against a strong England side, which backfired badly.

If India are to win the WC, these two must continue to facilitate rather than lead. I also have one minor concern regarding India’s seam quality (barring the genius of Bumrah, of course); I am not so sure about Arshdeep against a strong team on a pressure stage. This aside, India seem to have all bases covered.

For now, it’s about more of the same in the knockout games.

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