India's triumph at Barbados richly deserving reward for changing their T20I outlook

by IANS |

India's triumph at Barbados richly deserving reward for changing their T20I outlook Bridgetown (Barbados), June 30 (IANS) In the run-up to the 2024 Men’s T20 World Cup, despite some people being very bullish about India going all the way in the tournament, many didn’t share the same optimism they had. Granted, the team was literally more or less the same from the side playing in the 2022 edition, where their dated approach of playing T20 cricket led to them being handed a ten-wicket thrashing by England in the semifinals at Adelaide. Add to it, the last year’s ODI World Cup final heartbreak at Ahmedabad made many fear whether India had it in them to go past the last hurdle in future. Moreover, when the stalwarts Rohit Sharma and Virat Kohli came back to play T20Is against Afghanistan in January this year after the 2022 Adelaide semifinal, it was met with a sense of whether India would go back to playing conservatively in T20Is all over again on slow and low conditions of the West Indies, as well as on the unknown strips of the USA. But when India’s campaign began at drop-in pitches at Long Island, New York, all these thoughts began to recede game by game. That supreme manifestation of seeing the Rohit Sharma-led side lift the trophy from certain fans back home and all over the world finally came true after 2 pm on June 29 at Barbados, when India held their nerve to overcome South Africa by seven runs to claim the T20 World Cup silverware. The heartbreaks of Adelaide and Ahmedabad loomed large when Heinrich Klaasen put out a spinners takedown masterclass to make the equation 30 runs off 30 balls. After the razor-sharp Jasprit Bumrah gave away four runs, India clawing back in the same seemed imminent when Klaasen chased a wide ball from Hardik Pandya and nicked behind to Rishabh Pant. Bumrah would give away two runs in another masterly over and ended his dominating run in the tournament by castling Marco Jansen through the gate. From there, Arshdeep Singh gave away four runs, before Suryakumar Yadav produced a catch for the ages off Pandya’s bowling in an incredible pressure situation to seal the game and trophy in India’s favour. For a wee bit, many fretted out of tension and throbbing heart rate on what if it was going to be another heartbreak at the end of a World Cup campaign yet again. But things turned dramatically in the last five overs and how for India to lift the T20 World Cup for the second time, with happiness, tears of joy and relief writ large on the faces of players, support staff, and their ardent fans. It was a World Cup where everything clicked for India, and this was mainly down to a changed outlook, where batting in an attacking style, upping the aggression and putting a low price on milestones were the foundation stones. It nearly succeeded last year, but this time around, the result was finally achieved. In the fag end of his career, Rohit led the charge for transforming himself remarkably to become a merciless and breath-taking hitter of the new ball. The selflessness was passed down to all batters in the team, which was clearly visible in their Super Eights win over Bangladesh in Antigua. India posted 196/5, with Hardik Pandya making an unbeaten 50 from 27 balls, while Virat Kohli, Rishabh Pant and Shivam Dube chipped in with attacking 30s as all four batters had a strike-rate of 150 and above. Against Australia, Rohit came to the fore again with his attacking batting – plundering Mitchell Starc for 29 runs and racing his way to 92 off 41 balls. With batting being at its attacking best, India also benefitted from the new-ball bowling jugalbandi of a generational genie in Jasprit Bumrah and the youngster Arshdeep Singh. Add to it, Pandya, Kuldeep Yadav and Axar Patel being in top form with the ball. All of this was enough to ensure that when the Indian team comes back home, they have the elusive trophy along with them to add to their cabinet of titles seven months after the Ahmedabad heartbreak, and 19 months, 20 days post the Adelaide annihilation, ensuring that optimism did reign over skepticism. --IANS nr/bc

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