Whenever any Cricket World Cup comes about in any part of the globe, India are always seen as prime favourites. The country has become a cricketing powerhouse over the years. So much so that it is an industry of its own, becoming the hub for the game in the world.
Having said all that, the upcoming T20 World Cup might be very different to the ones in the past. The Men in Blue find themselves at fourth in the ICC T20 World Rankings, with arch-rivals Pakistan topping the rankings. And that table, in itself, says a lot about India and why they might not be the favourites to win the tournament after the summer. Unlike in football betting analysis, we have to take the ICC rankings more seriously than we would take the FIFA rankings, for example.
The recent clean-sweep win over New Zealand provides a rather inconsistent proof. About three of the five games came as a result of the Kiwis slipping up despite coming very close to the finishing line. Two of them were wins in the Super Over while the last one had them pulling clear until yet another collapse. Those of you that know where to bet on sports will have no doubt cleaned up financially given the outcome of the series.
More so, New Zealand were without Kane Williamson in three games. That left India with a huge advantage, allowing them to wreck through the opposition middle order. If not for New Zealand collapsing miserably, things could have been very different.
While that is the most recent proof of a T20 series in the Australia-New Zealand area, India have problems of their won in the team. The team is undoubtedly talented and the IPL has helped the country unearth multiple gems. But it has often been a case of too many cooks spoiling the broth.
KL Rahul has made a real impact in recent months. But that has come in either from the opening positions or from the one-down positions. That hasn’t exactly solved India number four issues.
Rishab Pant’s form has been inconsistent too. His concussion injury saw Rahul keep the stumps and do a very good job. That jeopardised Pant’s position even more.
More than that, the stability in the batting order is sorely lacking. Manish Pandey rose to the occasion in NZ but Shivam Dubey didn’t. There is still a lot of doubt about what exactly the batting order the mercurial Virat Kohli will be. It was the same problem that had let India down in England in the 50-over World Cup last year.
The talent in there is world-class. There are match-winners like Kohli, Rohit Sharma and Rahul- players that can win games at will. There are bowlers like Jasprit Bumrah and Mohammed Shami who can pick up wickets at crucial moments. But there is no consistent order or structure that can bind them together.
The NZ series was the last chance to nail down an order. And it wasn’t too consistent throughout the series. What goes on in the IPL from March onwards could also change many opinions and change things in the team. That won’t help inconsistency at all.
While there is always a chance that India do win the tournament, the likelihood increases with a stable batting order. On their day, the team can beat anyone in the world. But cricket is never played on paper.