Melbourne, Oct 21 (FN Agency) India head into the ICC Men’s T20 World Cup, with high hopes of ending their 15-year drought and claiming their second title thanks to a side packed with talent with both bat and ball. They’ll be looking to reach the semi-finals for the fourth time at their eighth appearance at an ICC Men’s T20 World Cup before powering on to victory in Australia. There is only ever one aim for India in World Cups, to win, and the ICC Men’s T20 World Cup 2022is no different. Failure to qualify for the semi-finals at the 2021 edition, including a ten-wicket defeat to rivals Pakistan, still stings and serves as motivation to go at least one better this time around – notthat any more will be needed. They face Bangladesh, South Africa, and Pakistan in Group 2 of the Super 12, alongside Netherlands and the final qualifier from the First Round.Much will likely be decided by the opening match, where India play Pakistan at the Melbourne Cricket Ground on 23 October. A win there would at once banish the demons of 12 months ago and produce plenty of momentumfor Rohit Sharma’s men. Should they get in their stride, they will be a formidable force for any team as they look to clinchtheir first title since the inaugural edition in 2007.India’s T20 World Cup history has been one of frustration since claiming the first-ever title in 2007. Irfan Pathan was the hero 15 years ago, as he took three for 16 as India edged Pakistan by fiveruns in Johannesburg. It was a crown that was hard-earned, with wins over England and South Africa in the group stage setting up a semi-final with Australia, where Yuvraj Singh hit 70 off 30 to power India through to the final.
But that was as good as it would get for India, with a Super 8s exit in the next three World Cups. Yet India have been edging closer in more recent editions, finishing as runners-up to Sri Lanka in 2014 before a semi-final defeat in 2016 to West Indies. A Super 12s exit in 2021 denied them a third consecutive semi-final appearance, and they will be raring to put that right this time around. There are very few nations whose cricketers play as much T20 cricket as India thanks to the success of the IPL and depth of homegrown talent at its disposal. And while some sides have played little white-ball cricket in recent months, India have got a number of series under their belts to make sure they are in the best possible form heading to Australia. A tour of England in July saw an impressive 2-1 series victory, including a comprehensive 50-run victory over the hosts in Southampton before following that up with a 49-run win in Birmingham. A 4-1 series win over West Indies then came a few weeks later before a 2-1 home series win over Australia kept up the side’s good form heading into the World Cup. Defeat by four wickets in the opening match was responded to with consecutive six-wicket victories as Rohit Sharma and Suryakumar Yadav starred with the bat for the hosts. Another home series victory came against South Africa, this time KL Rahul the standout, before a warm-up series with hosts Australia seeing the tourists win by six runs in the first match.India have a wealth of options with the bat, the task will be to get selection right and ensure those trusted perform at the crease.
Captain Rohit will almost certainly open alongside Rahul, where they will be one of the most fearsome partnerships should they put together lengthy stands. Should they fall, all eyes will be on the talismanic Kohli at number three. One of the best battersin the world on his day, India will be hoping he will be firing on all cylinders in Australia. And at number four, India have the world number two men’s T20 batter, Yadav. He has more than 1,000 runs in 32 T20I innings and showed everyone just how good he can bewith a knock of 117 off 55 balls against England this summer. Should India require it, the middle order is brimming with hard-hitters such as Hardik Pandya, wicketkeeper-batter Rishabh Pant, and all-rounder Ravichandran Ashwin to power them to abig total. The injury of star bowler Jasprit Bumrah is a blow, but they will take solace in having the outstanding Bhuvneshwar Kumar to lead the bowling attack.Bhuvneshwar is one of the most electric pace bowlers on his day, with the ability to swing theball both ways a potentially key skill Down Under. He will be joined by 23-year-old Arshdeep Singh, who will be hoping to announce himself onthe international stage with his death bowling. Bringing the spin will be Yuzvendra Chahal, who took the most wickets in the IPL this year, plus Axar Patel and Ashwin, arguably one of the world’s best all-rounders, giving India a wide range of options with ball in hand.