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India Currents gave me a voice in days I was very lost. Having my articles selected for publishing was very validating – Shailaja Dixit, Executive Director, Narika, Fremont
“Cricket is a game of glorious uncertainties.” This famous quote was proved again during the just-concluded T20 World Cup held in Australia. As usual, we had some teams that surpassed expectations and others that underperformed. In my opinion, the biggest surprise was the way that the associate nations performed. For example, Scotland, Namibia, and Zimbabwe all beat great teams. Still, the final four were old stalwarts – India, England, Pakistan and New Zealand. India and New Zealand were trounced in the semis by England and Pakistan respectively. Eventually, England came out as winners, with Pakistan as the runner-ups.
England won the tournament largely because they have a perfect batting mindset for T20’s, and their mindset is matched perfectly by the players that they have. Their mindset involves going hard in the powerplay, and then controlling the middle overs.
In the tournament, they were boosted by the phenomenal play by skipper Jos Buttler, and Alex Hales. Hales got called up into the national side a couple of months ago, and was one of the top run scorers in the entire tournament.
When both of England’s openers fire, it is very hard to beat them, as many teams found out. Also, Sam Curran played the tournament of his life, and his brilliant performance was a huge factor in England’s victory.
Another big storyline is India, who once again failed to perform in the big games. In most of the important games that they play, many of the players succumb to the pressure, and don’t score enough runs. An example of this is in the 2021 T20 World Cup, where if you remember, India lost their first two games to Pakistan and New Zealand.
They lost these games because they didn’t score enough runs in the powerplay – only scoring 6 an over. Once Rahul Dravid was hired as the coach, they adopted a more risk-friendly approach to batting.
Suryakumar Yadav and Hardik Pandya went into the team to bolster their batting firepower, and it worked. India tied the world record for consecutive T20 matches won, and were able to beat many premier nations without their best squad. Therefore, India was the heavy favorites to win the World Cup.
However, as soon as group play started it was clear that this wasn’t the same Indian team that had recently dominated oppositions on any pitch. In the first game against Pakistan, they were only able to score 31 runs in the powerplay, and lost 4 wickets.
Although they later came back to win that game, it was clear that something was different about their approach. In the next few games, they were atrocious in the powerplay. The openers (KL Rahul and Rohit Sharma) kept digging the team into a hole, and leaving Virat Kohli and Suryakumar Yadav (SKY) to save the team.
This dependent strategy backfired in the semifinals, when again, the openers didn’t score at a quick rate. This time SKY fell early, and the game was on Kohli’s shoulders. Kohli displays a pattern of lower strike rates when under pressure. His innings of 50 off 40 balls was vital, but also likely lowered the total team’s score.
Hardik Pandya came in and saved the team with one of the best innings he has played, a 63 off 33 ball masterpiece. Unfortunately, England was able to chase down the score without losing a wicket. In my opinion, I don’t think it is possible for India to win an international tournament with older, more conservative players on their roster, and this time there were many.
One example of a team that got it right is England, which completely revamped their roster around the 2019 World Cup. They opted for younger, more fearless players. This change was the reason that they were able to win the 2019 ODI World Cup, and now the 2022 T20 World Cup.
India should try the same, and try a younger lineup instead of repeatedly using the same veteran lineup.
Team of the Tournament
Jos Buttler (c):
He had 225 runs with an average of 45. Buttler was also the captain of the winning team, and made many vital contributions. . In the playoff matches, he scored a match winning 80 off 49 balls, and also scored 26 off 17. He was also very tidy behind the stumps
Having only been re-called into the national side a couple of months ago, Hales surprised the whole world with his brilliant performance in this World Cup. He scored 212 runs at an average of 42.43, at a strike rate of 147.22%, which is great batting in the powerplay. He has earned the selector’s trust after these performances, and should stay as a staple in England’s playing XI.
Kohli was the top run-scorer in the entire tournament, and showed that he is still King Kohli. He had 296 runs at an average near 100. Kohli single handedly won the match against Pakistan, and consistently performed in other games as well. Hopefully he can keep up this form into the future.
SKY was probably the most impactful batsman in the entire tournament. He had the highest strike rate of any batsman, and most of them came at crucial junctures of the game. He showcased his vast array of strokes, and proved that he could perform in high-pressure situations. He had 239 runs at an average of 59.75.
Phillips’s performance in this World Cup was an amazing surprise. Earlier hee has shown glimpses of his talent, but brought it all together in this tournament. He had 201 runs at an average of 40.20. He also scored 104 runs against Sri Lanka, and willed New Zealand to victory.
Raza is the hero for Zimbabwe cricket. Not only did he score 219 runs throughout the entire tournament, he also took 10 wickets, which put him in the top 10 of both categories. He helped Zimbabwe to a historic victory against Pakistan, and is currently one of the best all-rounders in the game.
Pandya scored 128 runs and got 8 wickets throughout the tournament. Pandya played his role to perfection in this tournament, and gave the Indian team a great batting option as well as a viable bowling option. Pandya played very crucial knocks for India, like his contribution with Virat Kohli against Pakistan and his brilliant knock of 63 off 33 balls against England, which gave India a respectable score to chase.
Hasaranga is extremely consistent with the ball. In this tournament, he was the highest wicket-taker with 15 wickets. He also had an economy of 6.41, which is phenomenal particularly if you consider his bowling slot in each inning.
Curran won the Player of the Tournament, and he completely deserved it. Curran got 13 wickets, and was the head of the English attack. Coming into the World Cup, Curran was a big question mark. Nobody really knew how he would perform, and he played brilliantly. He was a major reason why England was able to win the tournament.
Afridi started off the tournament slow, still recovering from a past knee injury. But, later on in the tournament, he showcased his vast range of skills. Regardless, he was 6th in the most wickets table. Also, he had an economy of 6.15, which is awesome. His injury during the finals was the final straw for Pakistan. Had he stayed healthy then, there is a real case to be made that Pakistan would have won.
Nortje had a great tournament. Not only did he pick up 11 wickets, which would put him in 5th place, he also had a stellar economy of 5.37, the best in the entire tournament. His speedy bowling style suits Australia perfectly, and it is a no-brainer to put him on this squad.