On 31st March 2011, India had vanquished Pakistan in Mohali to enter the Finals of the Cricket World Cup 2011. Exactly 5 years down the line, the Men In Blue are set to contest in yet another knockout encounter – this time, it’s the ICC World T20 Semi Final 2016. They face West Indies in a contest which promises to be enthralling to the core, given the list of the showstoppers that both sides have in their squads. We take a look at how India can beat West Indies in this all important Semi Final in Mumbai’s Wankhede Stadium.
Changing the dynamics of the top order
Despite playing a number of T20 games in the last 3 months, the Indian top order has been a spectacular failure in this tournament so far. Rohit Sharma, Shikhar Dhawan and Suresh Raina have hit the proverbial “rock bottom” of their T20 careers in the last few matches, with their body language clearly showing the dip in their form and confidence. The problem for India lies in the fact that ALL three of them have misfired at the same time. And this has put enormous pressure on the lower middle order – read Virat Kohli, MS Dhoni and Yuvraj Singh.
The unfortunate injury to Yuvi, however, opens a window of opportunity for India to tinker with the batting order and get something positive out of the top 4. According to sources close to the team, Ajinkya Rahane and Manish Pandey are front-runners to take Yuvraj’s place. In case Rahane gets the green light, he can be used to open the innings while Dhawan can be dropped to No 5, in order to try him out under different circumstances. Such a change is not unknown to the Indian T20 side, as Rahane already has the experience of replacing Dhawan at the top of the order in the later half of the World T20 2014. If it is Manish Pandey who gets in, Suresh Raina can be pushed down to No 5, and Pandey given the crucial No 4 position where Raina has struggled to get going recently.
Even though MS Dhoni prefers to go along with a settled team combination, Yuvraj’s injury has forced his hand into making unavoidable changes. Keeping in mind the recent problems of the top order, it would be worth a try to improvise a little against opponents who already know our weaknesses too well!
The last over conundrum – should it be Pandya again?
Hardik Pandya has proved himself to be a resourceful bowler in the last 3 months and has been an asset for India in the tournament so far. He even managed to hold his nerve in the thriller against Bangladesh with the ball in the last over. However, he has not managed to keep the runs in check in the last over in the last two matches. Against Bangladesh, he had already conceded 10 runs off the first 3 balls before the Tigers imploded in a bizarre fashion. Against Australia, he conceded 15 off the last over, and gave the Aussies the all important momentum towards the end. Such a lapse cannot be afforded against the West Indies, who bat deep enough to capitalize on an over from Pandya at the death. It would thus make more sense for Dhoni to use his strike bowlers – Nehra and Bumrah – in the last 4 and use up Pandya’s quota before the slog overs begin.
ICC World T20 Semi Final – India v West Indies
Venue – Wankhede Stadium, Mumbai
Start time – 19.00 (IST)