The Indian team has been on a roll in 2016 — they grew better and brighter with each encounter, winning ten of the eleven T20Is. It all started with a euphoric clean sweep in Australia, followed by a revengeful series win against the Lankans and a convincing victory in the Asia Cup final. The consistency showcased by ‘Men in Blues’ has made them firm favourites for the World T20, especially when they would be playing on their home ground.
"Any good team, if they are the home team, they will always know the conditions very well. So to beat a home team is always difficult," Indian captain MS Dhoni gave this statement ahead of the Asia Cup final. No doubt Bangladesh played excellent cricket in Asia Cup, but the manner in which it defeated big brunch Pakistan and Sri Lanka, the “home advantage” factor is surely going to leave a huge mark in the T20 World Cup.
According to statistician S Rajesh, since the beginning of 2014, India's win-loss record versus the top ten teams in T20Is is 14-5, which by far is the best — no other team has won as many, or lost as few matches as India have. The second best in the league are New Zealand, the ratio of which stands at 10-7. South Africa, Australia, and West Indies follow thereafter, who have won one or two games more than they have lost.
But what exactly is the reason behind India’s success in a format, which is cherished for its sheer unpredictability?
India’s batting has always been a dominant zone; and in recent times, it has been exceptional. With an exuberant batting display, particularly from ‘classy Sharma’ and ‘consistent Kohli’, India have had 17 fifty-plus scores in 18 matches and 27 scores of 30 or more. Virat Kohli has been sensational, scoring 740 runs at an average of 82.22 and a strike rate of almost 135, while Rohit Sharma is the only other batsman to score 600-plus runs against the top ten teams in T20Is during this period.
Both of them are the two leading run scorers during this period, and their presence has given India's top three an irresistible combination of flair and solidity. Dhawan has been ordinary until now, however, his 44-ball 60 in the Asia Cup final comes at a crucial time.
If the larger opinion is kept under purview, team India seems a little weak in the bowling department. However, the statistics have an altogether different story to tell. In the 18 T20Is, Indian bowlers have bowled magnificently with an average of 19.25 and economy 7.05 — which by far, is best in the business.
With 66 wickets at a superb average and economy rate, the Indian spinners have definitely led the charge; the quicker bowlers didn’t disappoint either. Ashish Nehra, who has taken 12 wickets in nine games at 18.83 and an economy rate of 7.29, has completely justified the faith that the selectors had reposed in him. The major find, however, remains to be Jasprit Bumrah: he takes a wicket every 15.92 balls. Furthermore, in the likes of Hardik Pandya, India has found an extra speedster and a match finisher.
These extravagant numbers speak volumes of the record India has been crowned with. The T-20 format game is known for causing major upsets, but given the exquisite performance by the Blues’ so far — the familiar pitch and the home crowd — makes them clear favourites for the World T20.
Disclaimer: All statistics used in this article are from Jan 1, 2014 – March 7, 2016
By: Mayank Mohanti