T20 World Cup 2024: Challenges ahead of India in Super Eight

T20 World Cup 2024: Challenges ahead of India in Super Eight

Indian cricket team in T20 WC 2024

With the dramatic group stage over, the T20 World Cup 2024 has reached its Super Eight stage. Teams like Pakistan, Sri Lanka, and New Zealand missed the berth in the Super Eight as nations like the USA, Bangladesh and Afghanistan surprised the fans. The last two of these teams will join India in Group A in the Super Eight stage. The fourth team in the group is Australia, the winner of the 2021 edition.

India had a good outing in the group stage, winning three matches with their last group league match against Canada being washed out. But while their bowlers delivered spotless performances, more are expected from their batters when they meet Afghanistan, Bangladesh, and Australia on the 20th, 22nd, and 24th of June respectively.

Batting form – a major concern

None of the Indian batters have crossed 100 runs in the tournament. The highest run scorer for India is Rishabh Pant who has accumulated 96 runs and is currently at 17th position on the list of highest run-getters in the tournament. It can be argued that India have chased 2 out of their 3 matches and in those instances, their targets were just 97 and 111. However, in the only match, where they batted first against Pakistan, they lost 2 wickets within the first 3 overs, and then at 89 for 3, they collapsed to lose their next 7 wickets for just 20 runs.

With most of the bowlers in Australia, Afghanistan, and Bangladesh looking in great form, how the Indian batters face the pace of Pat Cummins, Tanzim Shakib, and Naveen ul Haq and the leg-spin of Adam Zampa, Rashid Khan and Rishad Hossain will be a key factor for India in Super Eight.

Virat Kohli’s poor form

Virat Kohli, the biggest name in Indian cricket is struggling, scoring just 5 runs in 3 matches. He is also opening in this tournament with Indian captain Rohit Sharma, who after an unbeaten fifty against Ireland, has scored just 16 runs in the next two matches. He clearly had an issue against the left-arm fast bowlers and bowlers like Fazalhaq Farooqi, Mustafizur Rahman and Mitchell Starc would like to exploit that. India do have the option of including Yashasvi Jaiswal in the first eleven, and letting him open with Rohit Sharma. However, that would mean either moving Kohli to number four, which would be too low a batting position for him, or moving him to number three by removing Rishabh Pant from the spot where he looked the most comfortable among Indian batters.

In case the Indian selectors look to include Jaiswal, the man who mostly will be axed his Shivam Dube. His 34 runs in this tournament came with a strike rate of 73.91 but with him dropped it would mean one less bowling option for India which may become a gap in case of a crunch match in Super Eight.

Kuldeep Yadav- In or out?

The other area India will ponder upon is their choice of spinners. In the games in New York, India went with three pacers and two spinners in Ravindra Jadeja and Axar Patel. Whereas Axar looked sharp and picked up 3 wickets from 6 overs he has bowled, Jadeja has yet to pick up a wicket and bowled only 3 overs. India has a world-class left-arm wrist spinner in Kuldeep Yadav and many were surprised that Axar is preferred over him.

They also have another leg spinner in Yuzvendra Chahal. During the team selection, Rohit mentioned that picking four spinners is part of their strategy keeping the slow West Indian pitches in mind. It will be interesting to see how they change their team combination in the West Indies leg of the tournament to include Kuldeep who has picked up 17 wickets in 9 T20 Internationals he played in West Indies.

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Will Siraj lose his spot?

Another option for India would be to drop one of their three pacers in Super Eight and the choice could be straightforward. Jasprit Bumrah already had two ‘Player-of-the-match’ awards whereas Arshdeep Singh already picked up 7 wickets including a 4/9 against USA, his best T20I bowling performance. This makes Mohammad Siraj, who has just 1 wicket in 11 overs of bowling, an easy candidate to be replaced by a spinner.

However, this would mean that after Bumrah and Arshdeep, the fast-bowling responsibility will be on Hardik Pandya. The good news is that Pandya has already picked up 7 wickets in this tournament and looked very sharp but whether India consider him a pace bowling threat and go with three spinners would be interesting to see.

Bowling to be the decider

Among their opposition, both Bangladesh and Afghanistan are heavily dependent on their bowlers like India. Although in Rahmatullah Gurbaz and Ibrahim Zadran, Afghanistan can challenge with their openers most of their middle-order batters are untested. Indian batters need to ensure that, if they are batting first, they are batting sensibly and putting enough score on the board for their bowlers to defend. However, in case of a chase, they should not panic and keep the momentum going at all times.

Two out of the four teams from this group will qualify for the Semifinals and the key challenge for India will be to ensure that they go with their right combination to take the most advantage of the conditions and pitches in these matches. People would expect India vs Australia as the marquee clash but they need to be careful against Bangladesh and Afghanistan, two in-form teams coming with three wins each.

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