After the disappointment of last year’s World Cup, the Indian cricket team would look to banish the ghosts of UAE 2021 when it begins its World Cup campaign from October 16 in Australia. The painful exit from 2021 T20 World Cup still fresh, Team India has found a new lease of life in a new captain, coach and more importantly, a fresh batting approach. Gone are the days of conservative batting and eating up deliveries. This team under Rohit has shown that the batters are here to play the attacking game. India’s under-par performance in the Asia Cup notwithstanding, this team has been in form, putting up unbeaten streaks, winning a series in England and now hoping to produce a repeat against Australia and South Africa at home starting tomorrow.
However, the legendary Wasim Akram has rung alarm bells for India ahead of the T20 World Cup. Their early exit from the Asia Cup, following defeat to Pakistan and Sri Lanka in the Super 4 is not exactly the kind of performance you would expect from a top side. Having said that, there were a few positives for India in the form of Rohit Sharma and Virat Kohli as both star batters returned to their run-scoring best. Kohli scored a century against Afghanistan while Rohit dazzled with a fine knock of 78 against Sri Lanka, albeit in a losing cause. But while this bodes well for India, Akram reckons getting eliminated from a big tournament such as the Asia Cup before reaching the final can again hamper the forms of their top batters, particularly Rohit.
Also Read – ‘We criticise ourselves more than you all do’: KL Rahul’s powerful reply on strike-rate debate
“What a player. What an innings he played (against Sri Lanka), no doubt. But I think this performance from India will affect his performance. If you’re losing just before the World Cup which is just around the corner, that does make a difference to your captain,” Akram had said on Star Sports after India’s six-wicket defeat to Sri Lanka.
In both the matches that India lost in the Super 4s, against Pakistan and Sri Lanka, they could have posted a bigger total batting first. Against Pakistan, Rohit and KL Rahul provided India and explosive start, putting on 54 in 5 overs, but once both batters perished in quick succession, India’s star-studded middle order, despite doing their best, could manage 181/7 when a 200-plus total looked certain.
Similarly against Sri Lanka, after India were reduced to 13/2, Rohit and Suryakumar brought them back with a 97-run partnership, but after the India captain’s dismissal, the final eight overs yielded only 63 runs with the middle-order once again failing to step up. Akram believes that after the stage is set, the middle order should finish the innings with a flourish, something that wasn’t the case during the Asia Cup.
“Opening partnership… yes, they played beautifully but the middle order has to perform as well once the openers get out. And that’s what didn’t happen. Although they reached almost 170-odd (against Sri Lanka), if they get partnerships going like they did against Pakistan, India should get 190 every game,” pointed out Akram.