Editorial: Team India’s appetite for victory

With the bowling attack looking depleted in the absence of those two, and concerns over Kohli’s form, fans were fearing a repeat of what transpired last year.
Editorial: Team India’s appetite for victory

CHENNAI: June 23, 2013 remains etched on the minds of Indian cricket fans as a red letter day. For that was the last time the Men in Blue won an international cricket tournament, having defeated England to bring home the Champions Trophy. For a country that is rightly regarded as a traditional powerhouse of the sport, besides being the proud owner of the most watched domestic T20 league in the world, nine-and-a-half years without any major silverware is hard to fathom.

During that span, India finished as a runner-up thrice across different formats of the game. But that is scarcely a consolation for the cricket-obsessed people of the country. And at the preceding edition’s World T20 held in the UAE last year, India had to endure the ignominy of exiting in the group stage in what was Virat Kohli’s swansong appearance as captain in white-ball form of the game. The fact that India lost to arch rival Pakistan for the first time in a World Cup and the resounding defeat by 10 wickets was all the more galling. Things surely were at a nadir around this time last year.

Cut to the present, and that pall of gloom has made way for boundless optimism with India riding a crest of a wave en route to reaching the semi-finals of the T20 World Cup in Australia. There were questions abound, however, before Team India embarked on its latest mission with pace spearhead Jasprit Bumrah being ruled out with a stress fracture on his back. This was a few weeks after spin-bowling all-rounder, and another genuine match-winner, Ravindra Jadeja had also been forced to miss the showpiece event with an injury of his own.

With the bowling attack looking depleted in the absence of those two, and concerns over Kohli’s form, fans were fearing a repeat of what transpired last year. But after the completion of the group stage, all those concerns have been dispelled emphatically as India finished top of its group. And along the way, it also avenged last year’s defeat to Pakistan in a thrilling last-ball win in which Kohli’s ravenous and unbeaten 82 had been hailed as the finest T20 innings by an Indian.

Things seem to be falling into place at the right time for India as Kohli and Suryakumar Yadav, who continues to inspire awe among his team-mates, and evoke dread in the opposition with his 360-degree shot-making, are doing the bulk of the scoring. The bowling, too, has come along nicely with young left-arm pacer Arshdeep Singh, in particular, belying his inexperience with stupendous match-winning performances under intense pressure.

Barring the lone defeat to South Africa, it has been smooth sailing for India but sterner tests lie ahead, starting with the semi-final against England on Thursday. Unlike the group stages, the teams won’t be presented with a second chance and India will be aware that there will be no margin for error. If India wins that game, it could well run into Pakistan in the final in what will be a repeat of the 2007 World T20 summit clash that India won. Having already beaten Pakistan once in Melbourne a couple of weeks ago, India will definitely fancy its chances of an encore. A triumph over the old foe will have a soothing effect on a decade of pain and hurt.

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