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India need a new brand of cricket in T20Is post disappointing SF exit in T20 World Cup 2022

India need a new brand of cricket in T20Is post disappointing Semi-final exit in ICC Men's T20 World Cup 2022? India lost to England in semi-final at Adelaide.

India need a new brand of cricket in T20Is post disappointing Semi-final exit in ICC Men's T20 World Cup 2022? | Walking Wicket (Source_ ©Getty Images)
Rohit scored 116 runs from 6 matches at a SR of 106.42 in T20 WC'22 (Source: ©Getty Images)

After India were knocked out from ICC Men’s T20 World Cup 2022 by a rampaging England in the second semi-final played in Adelaide on November 10, a lot of debate is going around on the brand of cricket India should follow in T20Is.

India were found to be timid with their batting in the first half of their innings in the semis. And it has been the case throughout the tournament for India. The openers have struggled, Virat Kohli has dropped anchor only to accelerate later. If not for Suryakumar Yadav’s explosive batting during the tournament and Hardik Pandya’s quick knock in the semis, India would have really struggled to post a good score or chase down the target of 160 against Pakistan in their first game of the Super 12 stage.

In fact, India revised their style of play after arriving in Australia as they went with the conservative mode of preserving wickets and exploding later. It was a contrast to what skipper Rohit Sharma and head coach Rahul Dravid set out to achieve post the 2021 World T20 debacle. Ahead of the 2022 World T20, Dravid advocated an aggressive style of batting and even led from the front with this strategy in the bilateral T20I series that preceded the World Cup. There was mixed success with this brand of cricket as the risks were higher.

But India made a U-turn once the 2022 World Cup kickstarted. As the openers failed to adjust to the Australian conditions, a lot of pressure fell on the shoulders of the middle-order batters to rebuild the team’s innings and finish on a high. Coach Rahul Dravid even went on to say the need of the hour was to play smart cricket and respect the conditions a bit if needed. The result – India played at one of the slowest pace in powerplays among the participating teams and then played catch-up in the second half of the innings.

This strategy was exposed by England in the semis as India ended up with a below-par score of 168/6 on a flat Adelaide wicket. On the same pitch, England overhauled the target in 16 overs without losing a single wicket.

ICC Men's T20 World Cup 2022, Super 12, Group 1, England vs New Zealand_ Jos Buttler's 73 off 47 helps England beat Australia at The Gabba _ Walking Wicket (Source_ ©ICC via Getty Images)
Buttler carrying England after Eoin Morgan in same fashion (Source: ©ICC via Getty Images)

England embraced the ‘Go Hard from Ball One’ approach right after CWC 2015

When one ventures forth to dwell on the suitable brand of cricket which is tailored to the needs of modern-day T20 cricket, England are perhaps the only team that follow and rigorously stick to a “fearless and attacking style of play” since the time they suffered an embarrassing first-round exit in the 2015 Cricket World Cup in Australia.

Since then, led by Eoin Morgan, England reinvented their limited overs team, adopted a fearless brand of cricket, and got players who can follow and stick to it come what may. And they started the rebuilding process in a really quick manner as after that debacle in the 2015 world event, England won a 5-match ODI series at home in June against that year’s World Cup runners-up New Zealand by a margin of 3-2. The observers around the globe saw what England were trying to achieve as out of the 5 matches, the home side posted 300+ totals in 4 of the games with one team score that was in excess of 400.

The strategy of going all guns blazing was well and truly set in motion, and Captain Morgan was calling the shots with brutality.

As an outcome of this strategy, players like Joe Root, who were more in the Test cricket mould, were phased out, and cricketers who could attack from the word go were roped in. Veterans like James Anderson and Stuart Broad play only Test cricket now, while England have developed bowlers targeting the shortest version of the game. Not only that, but England also ensured they get multiple players for similar positions to make up for players lost due to injury or other reasons.

The strategy was sharpened in different conditions across the globe by England and the big result was seen 4 years later in the Cricket World Cup 2019 at home, when Eoin Morgan and his men lifted the trophy, although the winner was decided on the number of boundaries scored after the super over was also tied in the final. And now, Jos Buttler has led England into the final of the 2022 World T20 on the back of the same fearless approach to the game.

One must remember that England are missing a number of first-choice players in the World T20 2022; Jofra Archer and Jonny Bairstow are out due to injury, but their absence has never been felt as England have easy and strong replacements for them. Their bowling too has evolved, identifying bowlers that suit the dynamics of T20 cricket.

ICC Men's T20 World Cup 2022, Super 12, Group 2, India vs Zimbabwe_ Suryakumar Yadav scored 61 off 25 against Zimbabwe; India beat Zimbabwe _ Walking Wicket (Photo_ ©ICC_Getty Images)
India might need for fearless players like Surya in the set up (Photo: ©ICC/Getty Images)

Aggression should be the Mantra for India’s new brand of cricket

So, India could learn a thing or two from England in the manner that the latter evolved in their style of cricket, stuck to their intent and now find success regularly irrespective of conditions, oppositions and situations. England are now replicating that brand of cricket in Test cricket as well under new coach Brendon McCullum, and instantly earned rewards for that approach, beating New Zealand 3-0, levelling Pataudi Trophy 2021 (the last Test of which was postponed to July 2022) against India 2-2, and winning against South Africa 2-1, all at home, before the 2022 World T20.

What brand of cricket India should follow? Should they copy England’s style that India did only as a fair-weather friend in favourable conditions or should they adopt a new strategy altogether which is definitely based on aggression as its soul?

Tom Moody, a former Australian cricketer, has the answer to it. In an interview with ESPNCricinfo, Moody was quoted as saying, “So, you identify who those people are that can bring that style of cricket you feel is the future, that's going to give you success, and that sort of breeds another generation of people. So, you breed that success and that's the turning point for India?”

For India to develop a particular brand of cricket that they think could bring success in this format, they might have to take some harsh decisions that may or may not go well with the seniors, administrators or fans. But keeping the interest of Indian cricket higher is more important than keeping fans, administrators or any individual player happy.

The changes could be about phasing out seniors who are not suitable for the brand of cricket that India would like to follow, giving more exposure to players by making them play in other T20 tournaments across the world – just like how England opener Alex Hales did by playing in Australia’s Big Bash League (BBL) - or getting players to be flexible and making them ready for all positions and situations, and most importantly, sticking to that particular brand of cricket come highs or lows. The brand should not be changed depending on conditions which India did in the World T20 2022 in Australia and were brutally exposed by England in the semis.

Harsha Bhogle, a cricket commentator, has already announced the new way for Team India in T20Is. Reviewing India’s performance in the 2022 World T20, he said, “I see a lot of changes coming in. Sometimes, results like this are good because they drive you where you need to get…..and I think that is inevitable….I think that is going to lead to something better.”

Is Team India listening?

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