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ICC T20 World Cup 2024: India eye redemption as big-ticket cricket touches base in America

T20 World Cup: India eye redemption as big-ticket cricket touches base in America
Last Updated : 31 May 2024, 08:12 IST
Last Updated : 31 May 2024, 08:12 IST

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New York: There will be the usual favourites, the mavericks, the chokers and also the unpredictable minnows -- the script is familiar for a World Cup but the scale would be unprecedented when the T20 showpiece, featuring a record 20 teams, spearheads cricket's audacious charge into the American market starting here on Saturday.

While India would be eager to shed the baggage of near-misses, Australia would like to add another chapter to their tale of domination. For the likes of Pakistan and West Indies, the primary target would be to keep in check their tendency to implode at the most inopportune time.

Defending champions England and South Africa too will be a force to reckon with, especially the latter. Given the presence of match-winners like Heinrich Klaasen, David Miller, Quinton de Kock and Kagiso Rabada, the Proteas seem primed to get rid of the chokers' tag.

It will be a ground-breaking event not just because of the sheer size of the draw but also for the fact that it officially marks cricket's big-ticket entry into the USA, which will host 16 of the 55 matches to be played across 29 days.

The remaining 39 games will be held in the West Indies, including the Super 8 stage, the semifinals and the final on June 29.

Besides the obvious favourites on paper, the likes of Afghanistan can also never be counted out to upset the apple cart at the most unexpected time.

There are plots within plots that will unfold in the course of next one month. And perhaps one of the most intriguing would be the one involving India, a team that looks so destined for an ICC trophy but has somehow managed to fall short after the 2013 Champions Trophy triumph.

Rohit Sharma's reputation as captain will definitely be on the line this time. Considering the unparalleled resources and depth that the sport's powerhouse has, most experts find it difficult to pinpoint India's trophy drought at the word stage over the past decade.

Rohit's predecessor Virat Kohli ended his tenure as the most successful Test captain but the global trophy eluded him.

Now Rohit is carrying that baggage of not winning a world title with India finishing runner-up in two ICC events over the past 12 months, including the juggernaut-ending loss to Australia in the ODI World Cup final at home.

Their outdated approach in the previous two T20 World Cups cost them dearly but they are unlikely to repeat those mistakes in the Americas.

The recently-concluded IPL showed how the batters are pushing boundaries and India's high-profile line-up needs to follow that risky path.

India may not have the same batting firepower as compared to some of the rival teams but as pitches in the Caribbean are expected to be spin-friendly, they surely have all bases covered.

Rohit and Co. are scheduled to play three games at the makeshift facility here including the blockbuster clash against Pakistan on June 9.

Drop-in pitches will be used at the brand new facility with all teams entering unfamiliar territory.

India, however, will have the advantage of playing a warm-up game against Bangladesh at the same venue on June 1 before they take on Ireland in their opening league game on June 5.

USA and Canada to play historic tournament opener

Not far from India's base in New York City, the first ever international cricket game was played between USA and Canada back in 1844.

Cricket, however, lost out to the likes of Baseball soon after and centuries later, the sport will make an honest attempt to create a space of its own in the already matured American sporting market, starting with USA-Canada opener in Dallas on Saturday.

USA are getting to make their World Cup debut as tournament co-hosts but they have demonstrated that they cannot be taken lightly, having beaten Canada and more recently full-member Bangladesh in a bilateral series.

Canada, who have featured in the ODI Word Cup in the past, will also be making their T20 World Cup debut on Saturday. Uganda are the other first-timers in the competition.

Defending champions England have point to prove

Rohit will not be the only captain who will go into the tournament under immense pressure.

Jos Buttler will also be out to prove himself after England's shambolic performance as defending champions at the ODI World Cup in India six months ago.

England were by the far the best team of the 2022 T20 World Cup and they will be determined to reassert their supremacy in the shortest format.

And challenging that dominance would be the likes of India, South Africa and Australia, who have managed to retain the Ashes, win the World Test Championship final and the ODI World Cup in the last 12 months.

It will also be a stern captaincy test for new Australian skipper Mitchell Marsh.

Two-time champions West Indies, who could not qualify for the 50-over World Cup in India, are title contenders in their home conditions and their experience in the Caribbean Premier League is going to come in handy.

The always unpredictable Pakistan, who made the final of the previous edition, have concerns in the batting department going into their opener against USA on June 6.

Saim Ayub has not delivered for them at the top and it remains to be seen if management brings back skipper Babar Azam to open alongside Mohammad Rizwan.

Also in focus would be Mohammad Amir and Imad Wasim, who have been brought back to the national fold from retirement, likely because of their CPL experience.

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Published 31 May 2024, 08:12 IST

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