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A let down and a let down once again, that’s simply been India’s story at the ICC T20 World Cup 2021. India in both outings so far have been completely outplayed, Pakistan and New Zealand were India’s two opponents who’ve registered dominant wins. India with 3 games in hand are mathematically in the mix for a semi-final finish but isn’t very likely.

Before the start of the tournament there repeatedly were talks on form of many players; be it Hardik Pandya, Virat Kohli, Suryakumar Yadav or Rohit Sharma. There’s no hiding the fact that half of India’s team who were playing for their respective franchise in the Indian Premier League (IPL) didn’t have a tournament that would comfort them leading into the T20 World Cup. Suryakumar Yadav failed massively with the bat for Mumbai Indians, Hardik Pandya too didn’t bowl a ball and nor found his bat swing. Virat Kohli was opening for his franchise, Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB) but could have batted at 3 to find his feet. Mohammed Shami and Bhuvneshwar Kumar didn’t have the best of IPL’s and their start to the World Cup got worse with high economies and wicketless outings, Bhuvneshwar Kumar was the first to face the axe. Yuzvendra Chahal’s omission was a big mess as it always was expected that he’ll go well on UAE tracks and the IPL did show a trailer of the picture that could been a super hit had India included him in the squad after a successful IPL tournament.

PAKISTAN PUSHED INDIA ON BACKFOOT : India in a pressure season opener against Pakistan were caught in their heads. India were put into bat first and didn’t have the start they would have wished for as Rohit Sharma was trapped lbw on duck, Rahul and Suryakumar Yadav too departed early. Virat Kohli and Rishabh Pant did stitch a small partnership that got India back in but Rishabh Pant’s healthy cameo saw curtains; was riding on his luck but wasn’t for long. Virat Kohli got to his brilliant fifty and walked back; was the only batter on show who really got going. Hardik and Jadeja failed to finish strong and India managed 151-7 in their 20. Shaheen Shah Afridi straightaway had pushed India on backfoot with early wickets from where India never could stage a comeback. Pakistan comfortably in 17.5 overs got to the required 152 and sealed the win. Openers, Babar Azam and Mohammed Rizwan sealed the win for Pakistan with individual fifties. India failed to bag a wicket and a dominant Pakistan win left India with many question marks and the defeat put India in the must win territory.

IN A MUST-WIN, INDIA LOST TO KIWI’S: India shuffled their batting order ahead of a must win, Ishan was put to open, Rohit was pushed down to 3 and Virat at 4; the change didn’t do any good infact was a much poor outing by the Indian XI. Openers, Ishan and Rahul failed upfront, Rohit at 3 and Virat Kohli at 4 didn’t work India’s way. Rishabh Pant failed to perform, runs in 20’s from Hardik and Jadeja were the highest that saw India push and end on 110-7 in 20. Kiwi bowlers, Trent Boult and Ish Sodhi had a day to remember. New Zealand in reply saw Daryl Mitchell’s aggresive knock and Kane Williamson’s classy finish that saw the Kiwi’s confidently bag the win by 8 wickets in a must win. India had a couple of wickets in the game, Bumrah the only man in wickets column.

BUBBLE FATIGUE : Players have been in bio bubble for a long time now, especially the senior men who’ve been moving from a bubble to another, that’s been their life and for sure it does affect mental well-being but it doesn’t rule out the fact that the team lacked form. Playing for respective franchise in IPL didn’t reward players and a prolonged pre tournament camp could have done the world of good for India, the core team hasn’t played a game as a unit for quite a while now.

REPUTATION OVER FORM : Selection committee went by reputation over form, the IPL games did give a clear image on individuals form and with time in hand the selection committee had an option to make changes the squad but they opted against and backed the initial selected squad. Shreyas Iyer (reserve) and Yuzvendra Chahal (didn’t feature in the squad) had IPL outings that could have got them straight into starting XI’s of any team but not this Indian team.

The way to semi’s is still possible but with many ifs and after such poor performances in big games the spot isn’t a deserving one. England and Pakistan have been the two most dominant sides in the tournament who’ve had perfect games in each outing and by far are the best side in the tournament. Australia, New Zealand, South Africa and Afghanistan too have played impressive cricket and are the sides in contention for the 2nd spot in their respective groups. For India it’s been a big mess, right from the selection to forcing the same squad into the tournament.

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