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What We Learned From India’s Final Series Before The T20 World Cup

Indian skipper Rohit Sharma and South African skipper Temba Bavuma at the toss
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The Indian cricket team’s long-drawn preparations ahead of the 2022 T20 World Cup have finally elapsed, with just a few weeks remaining until Rohit Sharma’s men take the field against Pakistan in their tournament opener. Team India ended their World Cup preparations with another T20I series victory over a strong South Africa side, and although there have been some setbacks in terms of injuries to Jasprit Bumrah, the Men in Blue will carry plenty of optimism on their way to Australia.

Under the new leadership duo of Rohit Sharma and Rahul Dravid, India rose to number one in the ICC T20I rankings and the form of key players such as KL Rahul, Suryakumar Yadav, and Virat Kohli has been a good sign heading into the T20 World Cup.

What we Learned from India’s Final Series before T20 World Cup

1. The top 3 are no longer an issue


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One of the most glaring issues for team India in the months leading up to the T20 World Cup was the form of their three star batters at the top of the order. Rohit Sharma had a terrible IPL season with the Mumbai Indians and was considered a declining T20 force, KL Rahul faced troubles with his scoring rate and a period on the sidelines due to injury, while Virat Kohli was enduring the worst form of his career.

Two weeks away from the tournament, though, and these troubles no longer persist. Sharma, Rahul, and Kohli have scored runs in the Asia Cup and the home series’ against Australia and South Africa, showcasing a renewed confidence and commitment to India’s positive approach. The trio are also followed by arguably the best T20 batter on the planet, Suryakumar Yadav, while Hardik Pandya and Dinesh Karthik have sparkled in their brief appearances for the team across the last two months.

As a batting unit, few countries will be able to compete with India at the World Cup, and that remains their best chance of going all the way in Australia and winning the title.

2. The bowling remains a problem


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While team India’s batters have allayed any fears heading into the World, the same can’t be said of the bowling department. Jasprit Bumrah’s injury has left a massive hole in India’s bowling line-up ahead of the T20 World Cup. These issues with the current options were visibly identifiable in the series against South Africa.

Arshdeep Singh, Harshal Patel, Umesh Yadav, and Mohammed Siraj all had economy rates above ten an over in this series, with team India conceding over 440 runs in the last two T20Is in Guwahati and Indore. The death bowling problem has been exacerbated by the loss of Bumrah, with none of India’s current options performing the role required and continually missing their lengths and offering up freebies.

It remains a mystery who will replace Jasprit Bumrah in the 15-man squad for India at the T20 World Cup and what the three starters will be for the Men in Blue in Australia. Any three of Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Harshal Patel, Arshdeep Singh, Deepak Chahar, and Mohammed Shami are in the conversation to take the field against Pakistan.

3. South Africa have to resolve their Temba Bavuma problem


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Temba Bavuma will remain as South Africa’s captain for this World Cup. The opener deserves a place in the Proteas’ T20 World Cup team and is one of the finest leaders in world cricket. However, Bavuma does hold back this batting line-up when opening the batting, and the team must find a solution to this problem if they want to win the World Cup. Bavuma, by definition, in T20 cricket, is an anchor. He doesn’t have a great hitting range or a load of power and instead relies on timing and touch to score his runs.

The skipper scored just one run in his three innings against India in the T20I series, and his inefficiency at the top of the order created a ripple effect on the rest of the batting unit. Bavuma wastes precious balls to get set in the powerplay, and South Africa may be better suited by sending him down the order and making Rilee Rossouw open instead. In the middle order, Bavuma can be used as an anchor when the innings need to be stabilised, promoted to open the batting if an early wicket falls, similarly to how Australia has used Steve Smith in the format.

The Proteas have some excellent ball-strikers in de Kock, Roussouw, Markram, Stubbs, and Miller, and making Bavuma bat around these hitters could bring the best out of the team at the T20 World Cup and make them favourites to lift the trophy alongside Australia and team India.


[Featured Image Credit: ANI]