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CLOSE-IN: India have the fire-power to win the ICC Men’s T20 World Cup 2022

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The Indian cricket team has embarked on its journey for the T20 World Cup 2022 to be played in Australia. This is wonderful news as the team will get enough time to get acclimatised to the conditions Down Under.

India play their first match on October 23 at the famous Melbourne Cricket Ground against arch-rivals Pakistan. This is the most crucial match for the Indian side as a defeat in it could put them in deep waters to qualify. The main rivals, thereafter, are South Africa, Bangladesh and possibly the West Indies, if they qualify from their group games.

India should have got over their disappointing performance in the Asia Cup 2022, having beaten Australia and South Africa in a three-match T20I series at home. The only blemish for India was that they lost their last match against South Africa solely due to experimenting with their bench strength players — the reason being that India had already wrapped up the series and felt that they could do with a change.

One felt that India needed to keep their winning momentum intact, as a loss may not seem important but it has a lingering impact on a team’s confidence inadvertently.

The Indian team may rue the fact that their lethal frontline bowler in Jasprit Bumrah, unfortunately, due to injury, will not be a part of their side. However, India do have a battery of pacers to choose from in their fold.

The most difficult adaptation required for any side to play in Australia is to get used to their wickets and conditions. The additional bounce off the wicket is one area that has been difficult to handle for most batsmen. Fortunately, the Indian team will have a fortnight to get acclimatised through a few practice matches and net sessions.

The T20 game is one in which batters have to start playing their shots from the very first delivery. This is where the challenge lies for the Indian batters as the shots that one is used to playing in India on a particular delivery are hugely different from what one needs to play in Australia. Similarly for the bowlers, the length to bowl varies substantially from what one is used to back home.

India, on their last trip to Australia in 2020/21, did fairly well in both the T20I and Test series, and one hopes that they are able to recollect and adjust their game accordingly. They now have the time to do so.

India’s batting strength is far ahead of any of their rivals. A team that boasts of Rohit Sharma, KL Rahul, Virat Kohli, Suryakumar Yadav as the top-four batters and the likes of Rishabh Pant, Hardik Pandya and the canny Dinesh Karthik to follow. This is a dream line-up for any side.

India also boast of having some very good spin options. They have a leg-spinner in Yuzvendra Chahal, the accurate left-arm spin of Axar Patel and the world’s top off-spinner in Ravichandran Ashwin. The larger Australian grounds will suit them far better, and both Melbourne and Sydney wickets have shown that one can derive turn on them as well. Spin will play a very important part in the tournament and India fortunately are well equipped in that department.

The only area of worry is in India’s pace bowling options. Although Bhuvneshwar Kumar is an experienced bowler, the likes of Arshdeep Singh and Harshal Patel have still to earn their spurs. Mohammed Shami as a replacement for Bumrah, if fit, would be an ideal option.

The Indian players, having had the advantage of playing the IPL, are now very familiar with the T20 concept and the situations that one confronts while playing it.

India started well in the Asia Cup by beating Pakistan but, thereafter, they faltered against them as well as Sri Lanka. The losses were not because of their cricketing skills but more in the way they approached the matches mentally.

The problem with the Indian team is the pressure that they put themselves into because of the hype that follows them. The millions of well-wishers and fans may look like a wonderful following but they can become a heavy burden to carry on ones’ shoulders as well.

Team India needs to approach the T20 World Cup without the worry of winning the Cup. They need to play in a carefree manner without thinking about the outcome. India’s victory in the inaugural tournament in the T20 World Cup in 2007 was achieved by a young side that one least expected to win because they played without a care.

India are the current No. 1-ranked T20 side in the world. This they have achieved through their consistent performances this year. The unfortunate fallout from being at the top is that everyone expects India to win. This has been the tale of woe since 2014 in all the multi-national ICC tournaments.

One feels that the Indian team looks far more comfortable and determined approaching this World Cup. The expectations of their followers are also much less, having been disappointed in the past. The time is just right for India to shine. A Diwali victory on the eve of the festival against Pakistan would be just the right way for India to start their campaign.

India have the firepower to win, it is only the mental belief to do so that they seem to falter on, when put under pressure.

The Indian Women’s cricket team seems to be on the verge of winning the Asia Cup 2022. Their victory could be just the catalyst and booster for the men to emulate.

{Yajurvindra Singh is a former India cricketer)

National

‘I Presume That He Will Continue As Captain Till The T20 World Cup In 2024’: Sourav Ganguly On Rohit Sharma

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Impressed with his captaincy at the ODI World Cup, former captain Sourav Ganguly on Friday threw his weight behind Rohit Sharma, saying he should lead India at least till the T20 World Cup in June next year.

Rohit, who led India to the ODI World Cup final at home, and Virat Kohli have taken a “break” and will miss the white-ball leg of the upcoming South Africa tour, beginning December 10.

Talking to reporters, Ganguly said the duo deserved rest so that they come back “fresh” for the hectic calendar ahead.

“Once Rohit is back playing all formats, he should be the captain of India, because he has done so well in the World Cup,” said the former BCCI president, who was named the Dabur Chyawanprash’s brand ambassador for East India, during a program here.

“You saw in the World Cup how well they played. They are absolutely integral and an important part of Indian cricket. Interestingly, both Rohit and Kohli haven’t played a T20I since the semifinals against England in the 2022 T20 World Cup and the BCCI was not clear whether the duo should be in India’s scheme of things for the T20 global showpiece in six months time.

After the 2022 T20 World Cup, Hardik Pandya was named India’s T20 captain but following his injury during the ODI World Cup, Suryakumar Yadav is leading the team in the ongoing five-T20 series against Australia.

“They have been exceptional this World Cup” – Sourav Ganguly on Virat Kohli and Rohit Sharma

“World Cups are different than a bilateral series because the pressures are different. They have been exceptional this World Cup and hopefully six-seven months down the line in the West Indies they will be again at their best,” Ganguly said.

“He’s (Rohit) a leader. I expect and I presume that he will continue as captain till the T20 World Cup in 2024.” The duo will be back for the two-Test series in South Africa beginning with the Boxing Day Test in Centurion.

“Very rightfully, they have taken a break because there is so much cricket all the time. I cannot imagine that you played a World Cup final on the 19th and in three days’ time you’re playing a T20I series against the same team,” Ganguly said.

“It is not easy to pick yourselves up, especially with the pressures and demands of the World Cup. I’m happy that they have got a break.

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National

IPL 2024: ‘We Respect His Decision’, Gujarat Titans’ Director Of Cricket On Hardik Pandya’s ‘Desire’ To Return To Mumbai Indians

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Gujarat Titans’ Team Director Vikram Solanki acknowledged Hardik Pandya’s contribution to the team’s success in then last two seasons. The former England cricketer revealed that it was the all-rounder himself who expressed his desire to return to the Mumbai Indians and that they wholeheartedly respect it.

On Monday, Mumbai Indians’ officially proclaimed Pandya’s inclusion in their ranks as some confusion prevailed after all 10 franchises announced their retention and released list. The Titans decided to trade Pandya for a sum of INR 15 crore, with Shubman Gill succeeding the all-rounder as the franchise’s captain for IPL 2024.

As the first captain of Gujarat Titans, Hardik Pandya has helped the franchise deliver two fantastic seasons that resulted in winning one IPL championship and one appearance in the final,” Solanki was quoted as saying in a statement.

“He has now expressed a desire to return to his original team Mumbai Indians. We respect his decision and wish him all the very best in his future endeavours,” the former England batter further added.

“Shubman Gill has shown growth in stature and standing” – Vikram Solanki on Gujarat Titans’ new captain

Solanki, who has closely worked with the Gill, vouched for his maturity.”Shubman Gill has shown growth in stature and standing over the last two years at the highest level of the game. We’ve seen him mature not only as a batter but also as a leader in cricket,” Solanki opined.”His maturity and skill is evident in his on-field performance and we are extremely excited to embark on a new journey with a young leader like Shubman at the helm,” the head of GT think-tank said.

The Titans finished as the runners-up in IPL 2023.

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‘Use And Throw Has Been…’: Did Irfan Pathan Take Dig At Hardik Pandya On Reports Of Moving Back To Mumbai Indians Ahead Of IPL 2024?

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Former Indian all-rounder Irfan Pathan posted a cryptic tweet on X, referring to the ‘Use and Throw’ policy and netizens have predictably started analysing who is it directed to. With star all-rounder Hardik Pandya likely to shift his base back to Mumbai Indians ahead of IPL 2024, fans allege that the post is meant for him.

Several reports have suggested that the Gujarat Titans captain will return to his old franchise in an all-cash deal of ₹15 crore ahead of the 2024 edition. Should it materialise, it will be the biggest trade of the season, given the 30-year-old is one of the most-sought white-ball players in the world today and won the crown on his captaincy debut.Pathan took to X and wrote, ‘Use and throw has been the real characteristic since the start.’

Hardik Pandya currently nursing an ankle injury suffered during the 2023 World Cup:

With the seam-bowling all-rounder suffering an ankle injury during the 2023 World Cup game against Bangladesh, ruling him out of the remaining fixtures too, he is likely to mark his return during IPL 2024. Notably, Pandya could also be leading Team India in the 2024 T20 World Cup set to take place in June 1st week in the West Indies and USA.

The Baroda-born cricketer was part of Mumbai Indians from 2015-2021 and played a hand in four of their title wins. Hence, he would be an invaluable addition to the five-time champions’ arsenal.

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