‘Who do you think will win the world T20?’ With the World T20 kicking off today, I am asked this question very often by cricket fans. My answer is "I have no idea."
With 50 overs cricket and Test cricket you can make an educated guess, but with the World T20, it’s impossible to predict a winner. Look at the past winners of the world T20 - India, Pakistan, England and West Indies; there has been a different winner every time.
T20 by nature is a very unpredictable format where one over changes big equations, it allows weaker teams to challenge the stronger because the innings are shorter, add to that the fact that this tournament lasts just three weeks. So offering suggestions of who will win this World T20 is an exercise best avoided. My advice to you cricket fans is just sit back and enjoy the action.
Having said that, the four teams that played in the Asia Cup, that’s India, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka have a certain benefit, for they have had recent experience of conditions and thereby learnt some important lessons. Especially India.
Virat Kohli, the stand in captain, made a very interesting move during the Asia Cup. Having watched India's seam bowlers struggle in the death overs, he decided that his spinners will be his death bowlers.
Pitches in Dhaka where India play all their matches will allow India to use their spinners to create a bigger impact on the game, and I hope Dhoni carries the Asia Cup tactics forward. Make the spinners bowl the pressure overs rather than his young inexperienced seamers, which means he plays Amit Mishra as the third spinner. This will allow Dhoni to have his three spinners to play a decisive role right through the T20 innings.
Time has also come for India to stop moaning about their seam bowlers not being quick enough to make an impression on flat pitches and taken to the cleaners every second game. Instead, India needs to come to terms with the fact that they will not have the 145 kph bowlers coming through regularly and have to make do with the 130 kph bowlers.
It’s critical that India now find a way to make these 130 kph bowlers effective in limited overs cricket. I propose that our seamers, instead of trying to bowl quicker, become wily seam bowlers. 'Wily' is an adjective you generally use for spinners in cricket, but yes, you can be a wily seam bowler too.
Here I would like to give the example of Manoj Prabhakar. There was a time in Indian cricket when Prabhakar had become a dependable death bowler and the Indian captain sometimes had him bowl the real pressure overs ahead of the great Kapil Dev. Prabhakar bowled at an average speed of 130. He is a good example for our young medium pace bowlers to follow.
With Dhoni back, batting will continue to be India's main strength. If spinners are used as game changers and if the seam bowlers become wily, India have a team that can take on the best in these conditions. Can India win this World T20? Well I answered that question right at the start didn't I?