Mumbai, Oct 18: Any team needs to usually win at least 6-7 matches to win a tournament like the T20 World Cup and all of these wins have to come in the second round and the knockout stages.
The Indian men's cricket team has been found wanting on this front in most of the editions of the T20 World Cup since lifting the trophy in the inaugural edition of the event in 2007.
So, stitching together such consistent performance has been the bane of the Indian team, not only in the T20 World Cups but practically in all tournaments in the last many years.
And therefore, producing consistent performance and consecutive wins will be the biggest challenge for Rohit Shrama's team when at the 2022 ICC Men's T20 World Cup in Australia starting on with preliminary round matches this Sunday (October 16).
The Indian team will get into action in the Super 12 stage with a high-octane encounter with arch-rivals Pakistan on October 23. India are in Group 2 in the Super 12 stage with Bangladesh, South Africa and two qualifiers besides Pakistan in this stage.
Group 1 comprises Australia, England, New Zealand and Afghanistan besides two qualifiers. The top two teams from the Super 12 groups will qualify for the knockout semifinals.
So, to win the title a team needs to win at least 6-7 watches something that Rohit Sharma's team failed to do in the Asia Cup 2022 in the UAE.
After topping the Group, the Indian team faltered in the Super 4 stage, losing to Pakistan and Sri Lanka and thus eventually failing to make it to the final. The team has recently won white-ball series against Australia and South Africa but the rivals were quite depleted.
The consistency in performance will come only in case the team management led by Rahul Dravid manages to put together the right bowling mix in the field.
Optimizing the depleted bowling resources, especially in the tough Australian conditions will be another major challenge for the team. The team will be without some of their first-choice players -- especially the bowlers as without pacers Jasprit Bumrah, Deepak Chahar and left-arm spinner Ravindra Jadeja.
That leaves Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Mohammed Shami -- who came in as a replacement for Bumrah, Harshal Patel, Arshdeep Singh, and spinners R. Ashwin, Yuzvendra Chahal and Axar Patel. With all-rounder Hardik Pandya available as a medium pacer, the bowling unit looks quite good and strong on paper.
But there are a few pain points -- the pacers are a little short on pace. Mohammed Shami is returning from an injury and does not have enough recent match-time -- that is the reason he was picked among reserves initially, while Bhuvneshwar has not been in great form recently and has been carted around in death overs.
With spinners likely to play a limited role on pitches Down Under, working out the right mix so that the team can get the better of some of the strong units like Australia, England and New Zealand.
Fielding has emerged as an Achilles Heel of the Indian cricket teams at all levels and this will definitely be a big challenge for Rohit Sharma's team too.
Former India coach Ravi Shastri had recently pin-pointed fielding as an area of concern for India and hoped that they will be able to do well in this department of the game during this T20 World Cup. Shastri rightly had said that saving 10-15 runs in the field or not dropping a catch could make all the difference in the final analysis. Though the team has some great fielders like Virat Kohli, the absence of someone like Jadeja will definitely be felt. Most of the bowlers and a couple of batsmen will have to focus a lot on their fielding not only in Australia but otherwise too.
On paper, the Indian batting does not look like a cause for worry as the likes of Suryakumar Yadav, K.L Rahul, Virat Kohli and Hardik Pandya have done quite well in the last 2-3 series. Kohli was India's top scorer in the Asia Cup while Rahul has returned from injury to form by hitting a couple of half-centuries in recent matches at home. Pandya too has done well lower down the order.
Skipper Rohit Sharma has done reasonably well though he too has lacked confidence. But some of his knocks have proved that he is not far away from a big knock.
The aspect that has the fans worried is some of his emotional outbursts inside the field some of which have gone viral on social media.
Among the positives in the batting department, India have a lot of options and the presence of all-rounders and finishers like Dinesh Karthi
All in all, if the India T20 team manages to tackle the pain points, it could go all the way.