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Saturday, September 15, 2012

2012 World T20 gets under way in Sri Lanka

The 2012 version of the T20 World Cup starts in Sri Lanka with no one being clear favourites to win the Cup - reasons because of the lack of proper results as well as the sparse competition that happens between international teams - most of the T20 happens either in the IPL or the Big Bash or the domestic competitions spruced up to make the cut to the T20 Champions League. No wonder then that the focus is more on the forthcoming Champions League rather than the T20 World Cup.

India won the inaugural title, by surprise, and this led to the formation of T20 leagues like the ICL first and then the now-global IPL. But the Indians have still dont have the type of records that would make them happy. MS Dhoni has a record where he has lost more matches than won. Ashwin can call the T20 World Cup critical for the team but truth is that there is nothing for any teams to lose in this competition. In fact, Australia should be the team with the least expectations - they are ranked below Ireland, for god's sake! Expect a revamp in the rankings system very soon!

What can one expect from the Indian team? Not much, if you ask me. The Indian T20 team looks older than the test team now - look at the ages of the players like Sehwag, Zaheer, Balaji, Yuvraj, Harbhajan, Dhoni. The fielding will take a hit unless the younger team members make an entry. Wonder why Sehwag and Zaheer still continue to play this version of the game!

The Indian team is placed in a group alongside Afghanistan and England. Barring a shock (like the one we saw in 2007 World Cup), the Indians should go to the Super Eight where the Indians will mostly face Pakistan, Australia and South Africa. Let us look at the T20 records between India and these countries

  • India has won only 1 match against England having played four. The victory was in the match that Yuvraj scored six sixes while the defeats have been mostly playing in UK
  • India faced Afghanistan once earlier and won the match though the debutant gave good signs of itself in the match
  • India has faced Pakistan twice - both in the inaugural version. One was tied which India won by 3-0 (sounds like a football score) while the second match was the final where India defeated Misbah's swipe to win the Cup
  • The records are equal against Australia with both the teams winning 3 matches each
  • India enjoys a good record against South Africa, having won four of the six matches played so far.
In Sri Lanka though, India has won both the matches they have played so far but that cannot be counted for anything. As the statistics show, the records are still new and just like a session in a test match can change things upside down, a single over in a T20 can win or lose a match. 

The Indian team has bits-and-pieces players in this squad - Yuvraj, Rohit, Raina, Kohli and Sehwag can bowl one over each while Ashwin, Harbhajan, Irfan Pathan can bat a bit. Gambhir, Dhoni, Zaheer and Balaji provide the solidity in their department and it is going to be interesting to see who from these twelve will be left out for the actual match - in my mind, it might be Balaji.
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