6 reasons Dhoni's team will not win World T20
The massive defeat to New Zealand may be the earliest sign that Team India's wheels are beginning to come off.
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"Yeh tough 20 hai... Yahan miracle ka wait nahi kar sakte. Yahan miracle banana padta hai (This is the tough 20. Here you can't wait for a miracle to happen. You have to make the miracle happen)," say Virat Kohli, Ravindra Jadeja and Suresh Raina.
You are unlikely to miss this advertisement when you tune in to Star Sports these days. Launched on the occasion of the World T20, the advertisement is titled "Make your miracle".
And indeed miracle is what Mahendra Singh Dhoni's team would need to even stand a chance of making the final of the showpiece event, let alone harbouring any dreams of winning it, if we are to go by the performance it put up in its opening match against New Zealand on March 15.
Shikhar Dhawan, Rohit Sharma, Virat Kohli, Yuvraj Singh, Suresh Raina and Dhoni himself. The firepower in India's batting line-up is sure to send a chill down the spine of any bowling attack. But on Tuesday, India's much vaunted batting line-up collapsed like a pack of cards, to be all out for a mere 79 runs, chasing 127 for victory.
When the Kiwis were restricted to 126, on the back of some fine bowling by the Indians, nobody gave them a chance. But they turned the tables on the pre-tournament favourites and it was all too easy for New Zealand in the end.
Dhoni's team has had a tremendous run of form in T20 internationals of late. It has entered into the tournament ranked the number one T20 side in the world. The expectations of the fans naturally had reached a crescendo. The annihilation to New Zealand on Tuesday, however, proved to be a total anticlimax, though it perhaps brought us back to reality.
Is Team India the hot favourites that we have made it out to be? Tuesday's match may have been the earliest sign that the wheels are beginning to come off. Here are the reasons India will NOT win the World T20:
1. Complacency: It is the biggest hurdle to anything you do in life. If you are smug with your achievements, you stop to grow, and cease to push further. Starting from the T20 series against Australia, the Indians had lost only one match out of 11, and won seven matches on the trot, coming into the World T20. They had also lifted the coveted Asia Cup earlier this month. Plus the number one world ranking and the favourites tag for the World T20. Add to them the home advantage that Team India has in the tournament.
When you have the odds stacked so heavily in your favour, you are bound to feel complacent. That was what probably happened to Team India on Tuesday, leading to its downfall.
2. Peaked too soon: Even if Dhoni and company have not been complacent, they may have hit the height of their intensity a bit too early for their liking. It's not always that you come across a side like Australia under Steve Waugh or Ricky Ponting which would just keep on winning and winning and winning some more. For the rest of the teams, to do well in a big tournament, it's imperative to time their peaking to a nicety, for after a peak there is usually a decline.
The Indians had won the Australia series, the pretty inconsequential Sri Lanka series and finally the Asia Cup, which was the culmination of their good run. They may just have started to go downhill. Unfortunately, it had to happen in the biggest event of them all - the world championships.
3. Virat Kohli won't save you everytime: After all, he is also human. The star batsman has been winning matches for India as if it was his favourite pastime, but he can have an off day. Starting from the series Down Under, his scores in T20s have been 90, 59, 50, 7, 49, 56, 41, before the World T20 opener. A special mention has to be made of the 49 against a hostile Pakistan attack in the Asia Cup, which ensured there were no blushes for India.
Kohli is indeed the mainstay of the Indian batting, but, it is turning out that if Kohli fails, the team fails. This must not happen. The other batsmen have to step up to the plate and be counted. The overdependence on Kohli is starting to hurt India.
4. Yuvraj Singh is past his prime: The flamboyant left-hander has served Indian cricket with rare distinction for a very long time. There was a time when you could safely say, "in Yuvi we trust" an sit back and marvel at his breathtaking strokeplay. But not anymore.
The "man of the tournament" in World Cup 2011, who is expected to be a vital cog in the Indian batting line-up, is now only a pale shadow of his earlier self, when he would hit six sixes in an over. He showed some flashes of brilliance in the third T20 against Australia, hitting some lusty blows in the closing stages, scoring a 12-ball 15 not out and taking India home along with Suresh Raina. His scores since that match have been 10, 0, 15, 14, 35, 25 and 4. May be it's at last time for Yuvraj to walk into the sunset.
5. Pressure of playing at home: Kohli said in a press conference ahead of Tuesday's match that it was necessary to "soak in" the pressure that comes with playing at home. The expectations of the fans is paticularly high this time around given Team India's dream run in the shortest form of the game in recent times. But after the rout at the hands of New Zealand, one can't help but ask: Is Dhoni's team wilting under pressure?
6. Middle order not adequately warmed up: The middle order comprising the likes of Yuvraj, Raina, Ajinkya Rahane, Hardik Pandya, Ravindra Jadeja and Dhoni haven't had a lot of match practice given that Rohit Sharma, Kohli and Shikhar Dhawan at the top of the order have been facing the most number of deliveries and doing the job for the side more often than not. The middle order, which is an important part of the batting line-up has to be ready when put to test, which clearly it is still not.
Therefore, it all looks a bit grim for Dhoni's boys, and Pakistan, on March 19, has a realistic chance to register a win against India in world championships for the first time. Hope the Eden Gardens crowd can control its anger if that happens. If the Indians were to play the way they did against New Zealand, they wouldn't go too far in the tournament. At least our women's team was better on Tuesday, having beaten its opponents handsomely.