Will Rohit & Co break the trend? – Deccan Herald

When the Board of Control of Cricket in India’s outgoing treasurer Arun Dhumal announced at the latest AGM that the Board’s treasury was worth Rs 9,629 crores, the initial reaction was one of awe. But one that followed was not flattering, not in the least. 
For all the money the richest board in the world has accrued, more significantly so over the last decade, it has only won so many world titles to speak of. 1983. 2007. 2011.  
These years are etched in the minds of everyone connected to the team, and while India did win the 2002 and 2013 Champions Trophy titles, they are not quite the same as World Cups. 
So, as of now, India have won two one-day international World Cups and a solitary T20 World Cup in between, and they’re the richest cricketing nation in the world by some distance. 
Something doesn’t add up because Australia have won far more in the same time frame, but they don’t hold a candle to BCCI’s monetary value. And, India have the benefit of breeding some of the finest T20 talents in the world, courtesy the Indian Premier League.
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At this point, it’s natural to assume that the team is better at selling itself than it is at playing, but that simplistic perspective would be unbecoming of an evolving sporting nation. Brusque even. 
Yes, the BCCI is exceptional at marketing and does make an enormous amount of money from it, but that’s not without reason. The Indian cricket team is one of the most successful teams in world cricket. Period. A simple but clear sign of that is that they win more often than they lose.
Alas, the narrators of sport don’t take lightly to those who don’t deliver at the highest level, which happens to be the World Cup, for obvious reasons. And India haven’t, not always, and that’s a problem worth unpacking as we head into the latest edition of the T20 World Cup in Australia. 
“Honestly, I don’t think the team has done badly at all,” says former chief selector MSK Prasad. “Yes, we have not been able to overcome the hurdle and win trophies but we have consistently been favourites entering any marquee event. It’s that last leap, and there are several factors for that not happening. The primary one of which is that the format is very unforgiving. I always take the example of 2016 to make this point. We were in control but suddenly the dynamic changed, and that had more to do with the conditions than lack of talent or intent or anything like that.”
At the Wankhede, during the semifinals of the 2016 World T20, India put up 192 runs and looked set for a spot in the final. That was until Lendl Simmons and Andre Russell turned the tide. While their long-handle skills were at a peak on the night, one couldn’t deny the effect dew had on India’s bowlers. They were barely able to grip the ball, and thus another shot at the title was lost. 
“See, the game has changed a lot,” notes Lalchand Rajput, who was the manager of the 2007 World T20 title-winning side. “Back then, 160-170 was a winning score, but these days that’s not the case. Even Ireland is chasing down 180 easily. In that sense, batters have become more fearless and the bowlers have very little room to hide.”
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Dilip Vengsarkar, who was the chief selector in 2007, said much the same: “The format is fickle. The best team on the field does not always win. Those are the facts because, in 3-4 good or bad overs, everything can change. Actually, look at the over that Yuvraj Singh hit six sixes, those 36 runs, in the context, were massive. But that’s it, one bad over for Stuart Broad and one good over for Yuvraj and the game turned on its head.”
Venkatesh Prasad, the bowling coach of the same side Rajput was in charge of, had a contrary opinion, especially when referring to bowlers and their perceived discomfort. “One of the biggest issues I have noticed, especially among bowlers, is that they try too many things. Inevitably you’re going to put more and more pressure on yourself if you do that. Frankly, I don’t think the format is unforgiving,” said the former India international. 
“Yes, it’s tense, but sticking to the basics: a good yorker, a solid bouncer and a deceptive slower ball is all you need. Variations are important but you need to trust your stock delivery too.”
Another interesting point Prasad puts forth pertains to field placements, saying they aren’t nearly as well-thought-out as you would expect them to be. 
“How can you have a short third-man?” he hollers. “That means the bowler cannot bowl on the fourth stump or even the off stump without running the risk of a nick going to the fence. In this case, they are forced to bowl a middle and leg stump line which makes it much easier for batters to score. The margin of error is so small, and that’s another reason they feel the pressure.”
While all of these points are discussing the frames within the game itself, none of them went so far as speaking about poor selection strategies and combination goof-ups. In fact, MSK Prasad was the only one who admitted that the side for the 2021 T20 World Cup was ‘a mess’. 
“We have always been careful to pick the best side, but injuries or drop in form on the day or something else have always troubled us,” he says. “We have always been very good at mixing up youth and experience in the side.”
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There is a semblance of truth to that statement, but one cannot overlook the fact that a number of senior cricketers have overstayed their welcome in the shortest format. Even in 2007, only after a string of seniors including Sachin Tendulkar and Rahul Dravid decided to make themselves unavailable for selection (later stories revealed that Sourav Ganguly was in fact available for selection but was left out), did Vengsarkar and the then skipper MS Dhoni have the freedom to field a young unit.
That young team went on to win the inaugural edition of the World T20 after having played just one T20I before that.
“When we picked the side in 2007, India had barely, if at all, played a T20I,” says Vengsarkar. “The Indian board was the last to accept the format, we were quite apprehensive. We were inexperienced but we showed up with a young team because the game was faster and needed us to be on our toes more. We also knew we needed batters, who could accelerate. Rotation of strike was essential so running between wickets was another factor. 
He continues: “Of course, the big hitters matter, but we understood that if we didn’t rotate strike and allowed for pressure to build we would be in big trouble. That’s why the squad looked the way it did even tually. It was a calculated effort that took us some time to put together, and I’m glad we won because we were all still reeling from the 50-over failure from a few months ago. We needed 2007 to happen. Frankly, I don’t know if the IPL would have happened had we not won, and if the IPL hadn’t happened, I don’t think we would be in the position we are today. So, I would say that 2007 victory was a tectonic shift in attitude and it changed our path as a cricketing nation.” 
Evidently, the formula for success lies in the attitude adopted in 2007 and it is one that is still relevant in 2022.
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