India has had a tough time in ICC tournaments over the past decade. Their last win was back in 2013 when they won the Champions Trophy under MS Dhoni. There were no triumphs in the Kohli era even though India was the team to beat in every tournament.
But with the arrival of Rohit Sharma as skipper, who has a track record of winning five IPL titles with the Mumbai Indians, there seems to be renewed hope. While India’s deficiencies in multi-nation events were laid bare once more in the Asia Cup, encouraging series wins against Australia and South Africa followed. India, according to sites like Cricket Betting Man, goes into the tournament once again as firm favourites and here, we look at some of the key players for them in Australia.
It is almost impossible to make a list of key Indian players without including Virat Kohli in it, irrespective of the format and the tournament. His impact on the team might have waned a bit this year but the fact is, he is still India’s batsman in the format.
Kohli had a dreadful start to the year across formats where he couldn’t buy a run. His dry run extended to the IPL as well, where he scored just 341 runs at a rate of 115.98. His form gradually improved in the Asia Cup with a couple of fifties before announcing his return with his 71st century against Afghanistan. He played some cameos against Australia and South Africa and is entering this World Cup high on confidence.
Kohli has finally embraced the no-holds barred approach under Rohit Sharma and has reaped the rewards. The 33-year-old has scored 850 runs at an average of 77 in T20 World Cups, with a staggering 10 fifties from 19 innings. If India need to lift the trophy in Melbourne, Kohli will have to play a huge role.
If anyone has embodied skipper Rohit Sharma’s vision in the shortest format, it has been Suryakumar Yadav. He has been the standout performer for India in the T20 format over the past couple of years. Since his debut in March 2021, no other Indian batter has scored more than his 1045 runs in T20I’s, while those runs have come at a staggering strike rate of 176.81.
He has scored 801 runs this year in the shortest format at an average of 40 and a strike rate of 180, which is already the most for an Indian batter in a calendar year. He is the bridge between the top three and the explosive middle-order and can adapt his playing style to the situation.
But the world’s No.2 ranked T20I batter had an underwhelming World Cup last year in the UAE with 42 runs in four innings. He has never played in Australian conditions before, but he is going into the tournament as India’s most in-form batter and would like to make his mark.
Dinesh Karthik has made a late foray into India’s T20 World Cup plans with some consistent performances. He has transformed himself into one of the best finishers in the world in T20 cricket and had an excellent IPL, where he scored 330 runs at a strike rate of 183.
He is India’s designated finisher for the tournament, often coming into the crease only in the last four overs. India have tended to use him as a death-overs specialist, even bringing the likes of Jadeja and Axar ahead of him. Since his return in June, he has scored 273 runs at a strike rate of 150.
There has been a lot of talk about Karthik’s place in the side at No.7 as he is keeping Rishabh Pant out of the team and hence, it will be interesting to see how he will fare in Australia.
Mohammed Shami has replaced the injured Jasprit Bumrah for the T20 World Cup, getting the nod ahead of Mohammad Siraj and Shardul Thakur. Shami has some big shoes to fill and his wealth of experience in international cricket and in the IPL will keep him in good stead.
Shami has been with the Indian team on multiple tours to Australia during their two-test series wins and the 2015 World Cup. The fast bowler hasn’t played a single T20I for India in over a year as he last represented India at the last World Cup. He was instrumental in the Gujarat Titans’ title win, finishing as their highest wicket-taker.
An excellent powerplay bowler, the 32-year-old will be tested at the death in Australia in the absence of Bumrah.