Move Over Elections, Here Comes The T20 World Cup

K Balakumar

Jun 06, 2024, 07:00 PM | Updated 03:20 PM IST

The winner of T20 World Cup will receive this trophy.
The winner of T20 World Cup will receive this trophy.
  • A detailed analysis of the T20 World Cup, which is totally silly but still far better than pollsters' predictions.
  • Now that India is done with the needless distraction of elections, it should finally get down to focus its energies on the  important task that actually concerns almost every person in the country: the T20 World Cup.

    There are many reasons why the World Cup is more valuable than the elections.

    For instance, you and your friends can stay up all night and passionately discuss (and am sure many of you have) which of the sixes by Virat Kohli off Haris Rauf was more pivotal in that encounter at the MCG two years back.

    On the contrary, nobody, I bet, will be up and debate with their buddies whether — I don't know — which of the two seats, Wayanad or Raebareli, that Rahul Gandhi won in 2024 is more important.

    Also, in the World Cup there are no exit polls. Poll firms, of course, have pulled off what was hitherto thought to be an impossibility — make the ICC, in comparison, look like a top-notch organisational unit, that is.        

    Having made a good case for the World Cup being better than elections, here we will get down to discussing the prospects of the Indian team and others.

    For convenience, we will use the Q and A format, where we answer your imaginary questions with our own imaginary answers.

    Q: Can we start off by discussing the format of the World Cup?

    A: This is the first tournament ever where the format (20 overs) is in exact sync with the number of teams in the fray (20). Out of the 20, at least eight may have had difficulty in roping in the requisite number of players for their respective squads. But to say this openly, even in a supposedly humour piece, is deemed wrong.

    The state of world political correctness is now at a stage where you cannot make jokes on anything, as something is triggering to someone all the time. Time was one when relatively less fancied teams were called as minnows.

    Now, that usage is not kosher because ‘minnows’ is disrespectful to, we don't know, because most readers don't know what minnows actually mean. Also, this is a World Cup that is spread over — needless trivia alert — two continents. (Guyana, for the record, is in South America).

    Q: Can we discuss the composition of the Indian squad?

    A: Most people agree that the bulk of the Indian team kind of selected itself. Which of course begs the question, what is the point of the selectors then.

    On a serious note, the only major point of analysis right now is who should be played in as the wicket-keeper, Rishabh Pant or Sanju Samson? But let's be honest here: Sanju Samson is an experienced campaigner, and has been part of the Indian teams in which he was a substitute before. That experience will stand him in good stead to be a good substitute in this World Cup, too. 

    Rishabh Pant, on the other hand, is a swashbuckling player and capable of mercurial batting like, say, Shahid Afridi, who we all know hit a century off 37 balls at the age of pi.

    Q: At the age of pi?

    A: Yeah, Afridi's age was basically an irrational number, and also a mathematical constant. Afridi, for the record, is aged 45 for the last five years.

    Q: You are digressing. This was supposed to be about the World Cup and we were on Pant and Samson.

    A: Oh yes, Samson may be a bit unlucky if he doesn't make it to the playing 11, especially when you consider that a player like Joginder Sharma could make it to the Indian World Cup team in 2007.

    Sharma on his bowling skills alone could not have walked into a team. He could not have made it based solely on his batting ability, too. So we had to conclude that Sharma was in the team purely on his mediocrity in both. And, as it happened, India won the title when he bowled the last over in the final.

    Q: Okay, what is the Indian team's strength in this World Cup?

    A: KL Rahul.

    Q: Arrey, he is not even in the squad.

    A: That's what we are saying. That is India's real advantage. Justin Langer will concur with us.

    Q: How good is the form of the Indian bowling unit?

    A: The consensus is Bumrah is in fine fettle, even though most of us have very little idea of what 'fettle' is. Arshdeep Singh and Mohd. Siraj can swing, well, from unplayable to unspeakable. It depends on what kind of mood they are caught in and what kind of condition is on offer. 

    For example, if it is a bit chilly, cloudy with a hint of rain, you can very well conclude that someone like Pandya will  rub his hands in glee and get down to party harder. Oops sorry, that was an uncharitable, stereotypical jab at Pandya and his colourful ways. Pandya's stars right now are not very high. It is so bad that he doesn't lend himself to even silly jokes.    

    The thing is if an attack comprising Joginder Sharma, Sreesanth, R P Singh (he bowled in a slow-motion style that in the slow-motion replays he was practically stationary) can win you a World Cup then you should feel confident with whatever attack you have at your disposal.

    This is a spin-heavy Indian bowling line-up. Jadeja, Chahal, Axar, Kuldeep are part of the contingent, which is interesting considering the fact that most of the pitches available for the World Cup are expected to help — seriously — nobody knows. For, in New York and Florida, which is where India's group matches are to be held, there will be drop-down pitches, which is an euphemism for: this is not a cricket venue, folks.  

    Q: What is the Indian XI likely to be when it takes the field in the first match against Ireland in the first match in New York?

    A: The 11 may come out of this 12: Rohit, Jaiswal, Kohli, Suryakumar Yadav, Dubey, Pant, Pandya, Jadeja, Chahal, Kuldeep, Bumrah, Siraj. Or perhaps, Axar Patel may get the nod. Or if there are some injury concerns, then Arshdeep can also come into the picture. Basically, going by the form shown by the selectors, anyone other than Samson may be in the reckoning. 

    Q: How are the other teams shaping up?

    A: England have been playing fearless cricket in the last one year and they are sure to blitz their way through to the semis where teams that exhibit such spectacular form have a history of coming a cropper. Australia have gained their confidence back, and have the high-octane players who can be counted on to fall into controversies that a World Cup truly needs. 

    West Indies seem to have found their mojo back for the short format games and it is a real thrill to watch players like Pooran, Hetmyer and wonder what the hell were they doing in Lucknow and RR colours.

    South Africa and New Zealand are always solid teams, known for their steady, consistent cricket that has won them a lot of admirers but never the actual World Cup.

    But Pakistan and Sri Lanka both know a thing or two about winning the World Cup, but it is also likely that they also know that they can't win the cup with their present teams.

    Afghanistan will be hoping to upset the apple cart of the other teams. It of course beats the heck out of us as to why any team playing in the World Cup would be out selling apples in a cart.     

    Q: And finally, what do you make of India's chances in this World Cup?

    A: India should consider itself as one of the favourites to make it to the semi-finals, and from then on, as all experts never tire of pointing out, the best team on the day triumphs, as if in other sports there is also a possibility of the worst team of the day winning.

    The point is cricket punditry is mostly just sophistry with words. But still it is not as bad or silly as election analysis, which is just gossip and guessing. This means? Well exactly: the World Cup is far better than the elections. 

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