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World T20: Poor opening balance hurting India

Last updated on: September 21, 2012 08:51 IST

Even Afghanistan smashed India's bowlers

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Heading into the World Twenty20, the Indian team said it wants to win the trophy for Yuvraj Singh. Now, just days into the tournament, it seems Yuvraj will have to win it single-handedly.

The inaugural World T20 champions, in 2007, were billed as one of the favourites for the title this time, but, following two lacklustre outings - a warm-up match and the opener against Afghanistan -- that outlook has changed drastically.

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Pakistan's batsmen thrashed the Indian bowlers, smashing sixes and boundaries at will in the warm-up game. Then, days later, minnows Afghanistan, who came into the tournament through the qualifiers, had it easy against the experienced Indian bowlers and carted them around the park with disdain. Had they around 15-20 runs less to chase they could have well caused the tournament's first upset.


Image: Yuvraj Singh with team-mates
Photographs: Gareth Copley/Getty Images

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Yuvraj holds the key

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With the frontline bowlers performing as poorly, and India preferring to stick to its four-bowler formula, the role of an all-rounder like Yuvraj becomes all the more important. The dashing Punjab batsman played a crucial role in India's last two World Cup triumphs -- the World T20 in 2007 and the 50-overs World Cup in 2011 - and once again the team will be hoping he delivers on the big stage.

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In the match against Afghanistan, Yuvraj's twin strikes in the third over helped India check the minnows, who were threatening to take the game away with a spirited effort with the bat.

Yuvraj is gradually easing himself into the team after a six-month lay-off, having shown great determination to fight off lung cancer. He may not be 100 per cent yet in terms of getting back to his old self with the bat, but is still very useful with the ball. His all-round abilities make him indispensable.


Image: Yuvraj Singh
Photographs: Gareth Copley/Getty Images

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Gambhir continues to falter with the bat

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Other than the bowlers, India's other major worry is the form of openers Virender Sehwag and Gautam Gambhir. What is more worrisome about Gambhir is not his poor run with the bat, but in the manner in which he is getting out.

He continues to fall to the trap outside the off-stump, which has become a sort of a norm for all the pacers bowling to him at the moment. His troubles outside the off-stump appear never-ending and his last four innings in T20s read: 10, 10, 5 not out and three.

If Gambhir continues to fail, India may have to dig in to its reserves and bring in the exciting Manoj Tiwary to open the batting.


Image: Gautam Gambhir
Photographs: Gareth Copley/Getty Images

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Sehwag guilty of throwing his wicket away

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Equally disappointing is his Delhi team-mate Sehwag, who continues to delight and frustrate in equal measure, though, of late, he has left his legion of fans more frustrated than happy.

In his last ten innings in international cricket, Sehwag has crossed the fifty-run mark just once, when he scored 96 in an ODI against Sri Lanka in July. He has got off to good starts a couple of times, but just when he looked set for a big score a bad shot cost him his wicket.


Image: Virender Sehwag
Photographs: Cameron Spencer/Getty Images
Tags: ODI , Sri Lanka , Delhi

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'There are a lot of areas we have to improve on'

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On the bowling front, Ashok Dinda could replace Zaheer Khan, who has struggled to get going so far.

In some ways, the Indian team resembles English footballers, who look like world beaters in the EPL but struggle at the international level. The Indians rule the roost in the IPL, but come up short in big tournaments like the World T20.

Captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni was honest in his assessment of the team after the Afghanistan match. 'A good performance, but not a great performance from us. There are a lot of areas we have to improve on, to be honest,' he said.

It is good to be honest, but, at the same time, Dhoni must start being proactive too!


Image: The Indian team
Photographs: Vivek Prakash/Reuters

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