The performance of the Indian cricket team outside the county has now become a cause for concern.
One does understand that the pressure of winning overseas can be very demanding, but defeats against their arch-rivals Pakistan and Sri Lanka in the Asia Cup this month exposed their inherent weaknesses.
The most glaring one was the clear indication of a lack of confidence and self belief. This could be a detrimental factor in future. The bowling combination and their ability to contain the batting side looked other causes for concern.
Lack of a genuine fast bowler or one who can bowl effective yorkers at the death overs is a gap that India needs to fill soon. Without it, the outcome will always be against them, especially with the new field restrictions.
The Indian team will be embarking shortly on a journey to capture the ICC Twenty20 World Cup. The coming week is an important one for the think tank of Indian cricket to debate and discuss players, strategy and the final composition of the team against each of their opponents.
Unfortunately, this is not destined to happen, as the coach and his support staff are on holiday, the captain is playing football and testing his Harley Davidson at home and the selectors are scattered watching the last of the domestic matches.
A team that is at a mental low cannot afford such a luxury. Furthermore, the players are claiming to be jaded due to plenty of cricket. This came out very strongly at press conferences and interviews. The most bizarre statement was from Virat Kohli during his press conference after being defeated by Pakistan. He remarked how he was proud of his team and its performance. One wouldn’t have expected such a callous rhetoric, after the team had let millions of its supporters down.
Although the shortest version of cricket has become the most popular format in India, the game gives a clear advantage to well-built and athletic cricketers.
The hard-hitting batsmen and strong-shouldered bowlers seem to score over subtle wrists and technically-brilliant batters.
The West Indian side won it the last time by sheer power and this trend will continue.
India is pitted against very tough sides in their group — Australia, Pakistan, West Indies and will most probably have Bangladesh, as well. The battle to qualify will be very difficult and in the present form, India does not look favourites to be there. The team is also low on confidence.
I feel their performance in the tournament will depend enormously on the way they fare in their first match against Pakistan.
The Indian side has brought in the hard-hitting Yuvraj and Raina to bolster their batting.
The wickets in Bangladesh will also help their spin bowling, and so Dhoni should have ample options on the slow track with Jadeja, Ashwin and Misra.
Fielding and catching at the boundary will play an important role. We will see some phenomenal catches and one hopes that apart from Ravindra Jadeja, who now can be rated as one of the best outfielders in present day cricket, the other Indian fielders follow suit to make fielding our strength rather than a weakness. India will need to be firing on all cylinders from the outset or else they may find themselves on the way home after the league stage itself.
(The writer is a former Test cricketer)