This newest format of the gentleman’s game was initially met with a lot of skepticism by cricketing pundits across the globe. So much so that cricket administrators were apprehensive about recognizing this format. The success of the inaugural T20 World Cup in South Africa put to rest the debate and ensured that twenty-over cricket was here to stay. It helped that India, with all its monetary clout in cricketing circles, had emerged victorious in the tournament. This win also ensured that a billion Indian cricket crazy fans would pay obeisance to a new generation of cricketing Gods.
Circa September, 2007. Indian cricket was going through a turbulent phase. The Wall, Rahul Dravid, had stepped down from the captaincy of the Indian cricket team.MS Dhoni, with a shrewd cricketing brain coupled with the camaraderie he shared with his teammates, was seen as the one big hope by all and sundry. Dhoni had some rather large shoes to fill and he did so with aplomb leading the Men in Blue to a handsome victory in the T20 world cup. This incidentally was his first assignment as the Indian captain. He led a motley bunch of cricketers who, seemingly, did not have the word ‘pressure’ in their vocabularies.
Two years hence and this fearless bunch has carved a niche for themselves in international cricket. India comes into this years’ world cup as the defending champion and with the much vaunted favourites tag. The Indians certainly have the requisite arsenal to enable them to get their hands on some silverware yet again.
Fresh from a strenuous season-2 of the lucrative IPL, lethargy is one thing the Indians will have to be wary of. With the packed schedules, the possibility of player burnout cannot be ruled out either. Also, the first world cup in South Africa was more of an experiment. This time around though, all teams have had significant exposure to the twenty over format. The ability to think on one’s feet is a vital aspect of T20 cricket and teams would be well aware of this now. They have had an opportunity to get down to their drawing boards, re-assess their strategies and fine tune their skills. As an obvious consequence, the Indians have a far tougher job on their hands and will have to play out of their skins if they have to retain their title.
Having Dhoni, who has a seemingly calm and mature head on his shoulders, at the helm is a bonus. Dhoni himself has been lacklustre with the willow of late. He is a vital cog in the wheel and the captain needs to sort out his indifferent form if India has to do well. What remains to be seen is, can this street-smart cricketer outthink, outsmart and outmanoeuvre his formidable opponents and lead the Men in Blue to an unprecedented second world cup triumph. Signing off in anticipation of a heartwarming performance from our heroes.