Shorter and shorter: On Indian cricket’s transition phase

The Twenty20 format seems to be cricket’s overwhelming flavour at present. Close on the heels of the Indian Premier League, the ICC T20 World Cup commenced last Sunday. Both championships dropped anchor in the United Arab Emirates (UAE). Originally, they were scheduled to be held in India but the COVID-19 pandemic forced a change in venue. The Board of Control for Cricket in India shifted the franchise-based league and the multi-nation event to the UAE and many players have seamlessly moved on from club to country. Nearly a week has lapsed since the latest T20 World Cup made its initial steps under the West Asian skies during which lesser placed teams tried to qualify for the Super 12 segment that formally starts today. This, in fact, is the real deal. And nothing can get bigger than the Super 12 Group 2 match that pits India against Pakistan in Dubai on Sunday. In ICC events, India holds the edge over its neighbour beyond the Radcliffe Line but for a vast generation of fans, cricketing skirmishes involving the two in the UAE often draw in a difficult memory. Not many can forget Javed Miandad clouting a last-ball six off Chetan Sharma and winning for Pakistan the Austral-Asia Cup in 1986. From then on, India was on the ascendant.

This trend was especially evident when M.S. Dhoni’s men won the inaugural ICC World T20, as the shortest format’s World Cup was then called, in South Africa in 2007. The vanquished opposition was Pakistan and those shards of history will lend an edge to the latest bout. But after winning the title in 2007, India has subsequently flattered to deceive. Meanwhile, Virat Kohli gets another chance to lay his hands on ICC silverware, which remains a missing link in his captaincy resume. That he is also giving up his T20 captaincy after the championship should push him further towards this goal. Dhoni’s presence in the dressing room as a mentor, while the coaching staff led by Ravi Shastri prepare to bow out after a few weeks, is indicative of the imminent leadership transition within the Indian ranks. With its players having featured in the previous IPL and the added confidence gleaned from the warm-up victories over England and Australia, India is in a good space. Defending champion West Indies, Australia, South Africa, England and New Zealand may fancy their chances but this tournament isn’t entirely about the established units. It is also about Scotland pushing its way in or Afghanistan turning up despite the turmoil back home. Hope floats and India yearns to finish on the winning side when the championship ends on November 14.

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Printable version | Dec 3, 2021 7:40:52 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/opinion/editorial/shorter-and-shorter-the-hindu-editorial-on-indian-crickets-transition-phase/article37130573.ece

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