T20 World Cup: Team India can go all the way in Dravid-Rohit combo’s last assignment

Mumbai:  India’s coach-captain combine of Rahul Dravid and Rohit Sharma is all set for their third ICC World Cup competition in the last two years, which will definitely be their final major event when the Men-in-Blue land in the USA and Caribbean for the ICC Men’s T20 World Cup 2024, starting on June 1.

With Dravid showing no interest in continuing, the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) is searching for a new Head Coach for the men’s side and thus the upcoming T20 World Cup 2024 will be their last event as coach and captain combine.

The question foremost in the minds of Indian cricket fans is whether Dravid and Rohit will be able to spearhead India to the title in the T20 World Cup 2024. Will they be able to help India regain the title after their triumph in the inaugural edition in 2007?

This will be their third ICC event since 2022. Their first tilt as a combine at an ICC event was in the T20 World Cup in 2022 in Australia. The Indian team reached the semifinals but lost to eventual Champions England. Next came the 2023 World Test Championship Final against Australia which too ended in disappointment for Dravid and Sharma as they succumbed to the brilliant onslaught by Travis Head.

They reached the zenith of their combined as coach and captain at the Men’s One-day World Cup at home when India reached the final after a brilliant unbeaten run in the league stage, winning all nine league matches. They handed New Zealand a 70-run defeat in the semifinal to reach the final but went down to Australia by six wickets in the summit clash.

While Virat Kohli was the best performer with the bat, amassing an astonishing 765 runs at an average of 95.62 at a strike rate of 90.31, hitting three centuries and six half-centuries. Rohit Sharma was not far behind, hammering 597 runs in 11 innings at an average of 54.27 and a strike rate of 125.94, hitting a century and three half-centuries.

On the bowling front, Mohammed Shami was the best in the entire tournament as he claimed 24 wickets in just seven matches to top the charts. Jasprit Bumrah bagged 21 wickets.

So, as they get ready for the 2024 T20 World Cup, Dravid and Rohit will be expecting to go all the way in this edition so that they can end their partnership as coach and captain on a glorious note. Considering the way things are going, it may also prove to be the last T20 World Cup for Rohit Sharma, who was a member of the squad that won the inaugural edition in 2007.

The selectors have picked a strong 15-member side and besides Virat and Rohit, Ravindra Jadeja, Suryakumar Yadav, Bumrah, Mohd Siraj, and Kuldeep Yadav were part of the team that played the 2023 ODI World Cup final at the Narendra Modi Stadium in Ahmedabad on November 19, 2023.

The squad has been bolstered by the return of wicketkeeper Rishabh Pant, who has made a successful return after a 14-month break in the India Premier League. Hardik Pandya, who had pulled out of the 2023 World Cup due to an injury suffered during the clash with Bangladesh in Pune, is also back in action, though his return has not been as successful as that of Pant and Pandya had to suffer the ignominy of being booed by fans in Indian stadiums. The same goes for Axar Patel who too was forced to withdraw from the ODI World Cup due to an injury and is now back for the T20 World Cup.

Virat is in tremendous form as he leads the standings for the Orange Cap with 708 runs and though there have been some concerns in some quarters over his strike rate, he has performed his role superbly for Royal Challengers Bengaluru. Rohit has managed to score 417 runs in 14 matches hehe struck his first IPL century after many years and ended his campaign with a half-century in Mumbai Indians’ final match, though that was in a losing cause.

Among the bowlers that have been picked for the T20 World Cup, Bumrah has bowled superbly to claim 20 wickets in 13 matches at an average of 16.80 and an economy rate of 6.48. He was brilliant in taking his best haul of 5-21 this season. Fellow pacer, Arshdeep Singh and Yuzvendra Chahal have claimed 17 wickets apiece at the end of the league phase for their respective teams while Kuldeep Yadav ended IPL 2024 with 16 wickets for Delhi Capitals. The team will, however, be without Mohd Shami who is still recovering from surgery.

Pant’s return fills a big gap in the T20 World Cup team though KL Rahul had done reasonably well in the ODI World Cup and was the top-scorer for India in the final against Australia.

However, the inherent gaps in the selection have left the squad a bit imbalanced with four spinners in the 15-member squad, which many feel is a luxury in conditions in the USA and West Indies. The middle order looks a bit suspect despite the presence of Pant, Pandya, Suryakumar Yadav, and newcomers Shivam Dube and Sanju Samson.

Though there is not much gap between the IPL 2024 and the T20 World Cup, the fact that the players go into the World Cup with sufficient match practice augurs well for the squad. How much will depend on how quickly they recover from the exertions of the IPL and get ready for the mega event. But considering modern training and recovery techniques and equipment, it may not prove a big hassle for the players.

So, considering the kind of resources that India have and the form shown by their top players in the IPL, the team managed by Rahul Dravid and Rohit Sharma is capable of going all the way to the title in the T20 World Cup. It all depends on how they work out the selection of their playing XIs for various opponents and perform on that given day.

Indian Squad for T20 World Cup: Rohit Sharma (C), Hardik Pandya (V-C), Yashasvi Jaiswal, Virat Kohli, Suryakumar Yadav, Rishabh Pant (WK), Sanju Samson (WK), Shivam Dube, Ravindra Jadeja, Axar Patel, Kuldeep Yadav, Yuzvendra Chahal, Arshdeep Singh, Jasprit Bumrah, Mohd Siraj.


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