Back-to-back series wins against the West Indies and Sri Lanka make the Indian team look mighty before the T20I World Cup. Let's find out how strong the Indian cricket team is in reality.
After a very dominant performance against a young West Indies side, the Indian team continued their strong showing to won the T20I series 3-0 against another old rival, Sri Lanka. These back-to-back series wins are a firm indication of the team being in fine fettle; a good thing as they look to prepare the best possible team ahead of the ICC T20I World Cup that begins in October this year.
India is currently on a roll. Like a well-oiled engine, it sailed smoothly past any resistance put up by its recent opponents. They are ruthless while defending and clinical while chasing. On the back of two emphatic series wins, Team India solidified their position as the number one T20I cricket team in the world with 270 rating points.
Rohit Sharma's young brigade is winning all manner of adulation from every corner. However, can we say that this team perfect? There is no such thing as perfection! Every team has its strengths and weaknesses. A successful team is always aware of both and they always try to improve on their weaknesses. Here are the strengths and weaknesses of the Indian team:
Strong batting line-up: Team India has always been blessed with very talented batsmen. Every generation has been dominated by extraordinary batsmen - Sunil Gavaskar, Sachin Tendulkar, Rahul Dravid, Sourav Ganguly, Virat Kohli, and Rohit Sharma, to name a few.
Currently, the Indian team has one of the most talented batting line-ups in the world. They have the strong trio of Rohit Sharma, KL Rahul and Virat Kohli at the top. The middle order that has been the weak link over the last couple of years has finally started to click. While the inclusion of Shreyas Iyer has given the middle order stability, that of Suryakumar Yadav has given the team a strong 360 degree player.
Most of these players also seem at ease playing in any position. Rahul holds a fine record both as an opener and as a middle-order batsman. In fact, his highest score in T20 cricket came when he batted at No.4. Similarly, Venkatesh Iyer and Suryakumar Yadav are both experienced at batting at the top order as well as finishers.
Weak fielding: Under MS Dhoni, the Indian team made massive improvements in fielding, becoming one of the top-notch fielding sides from a very mediocre one. It boasted of some of the finest fielders in Suresh Raina, Yuvraj Singh, Ravindra Jadeja and Kohli, turning the team into a strong, athletic side. With most of the players in that team not around now, the quality of fielding has once again gone down. Over the last two series, many regulation catches were dropped by Ishan Kishan, Venkatesh Iyer, and Bhuvneshwar Kumar. These dropped catches frustrated Rohit Sharma to such an extent that he almost kicked the ball on one occasion. Though the outcome of the matches were ultimately not affected by these slip-ups, they can and will hurt the team on a big stage like the ICC T20 World Cup.
Robust bench strength: The Indian team has created a pool of very talented players thanks to the IPL and a very organized calendar of domestic tournaments. Currently, there are too many strong contenders for the opening slot. There is Rahul, Ruturaj Gaikwad, Sanju Samson, Ishan Kishan, and captain Rohit Sharma himself while quality openers like Prithvi Shaw, Shubman Gill and Devdutt Padikkal are waiting in the wings.
In the bowling department too, India don't lack talent. Jasprit Bumrah, Mohammed Siraj, Avesh Khan, and Prasidh Krishna can routinely clock over at 140 km/hr. While Bhuvneshwar Kumar troubles opponent batters with swing, Deepak Chahar is another rising star in the set-up who can complement Kumar. The spin department is also rich with quality players like Yuzvendra Chahal, Ravi Bishnoi, Kuldeep Yadav, Varun Chakravarthy, and Rahul Chahar. The Indian team management is enjoying "the bliss of plenty" at the moment. The work load of players has been managed efficiently, which in turn has improved the performance of the team.
Expensive death overs: the pacers have been opening their bowling on a stronger note, providing early break-throughs to put a leash on the flow of runs. The spinners have complemented the pacers with their miserly bowling in the middle overs. However, if there is one fact that could prove a headache for the coach and captain, it is the death overs where too many loose deliveries are being bowled. In the second T20I against Sri Lanka, India gave away 81 runs in the last 32 balls. It is to be noted that whenever the opposition has played Bumrah's overs well, India have struggled to contain the flow of runs in the death. India has a rich pool of talented bowlers but that talent can only be useful when applied properly.
There is no doubt that India is very strong on home soil and that they hold an enviable record here. The real test of character for a team, however, is when they play abroad. India, unfortunately, does not travel well, and its last three tours failed to produce favorable results in the white-ball format. Before India go on to play the ICC T20 World Cup in Australia, the team must identify and hammer out the kinks in their armor. If they want to lay their hands again on that coveted trophy, that is.
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