T20 World Cup: India bank on middle order firepower to end trophy drought

India's Rohit Sharma in action against Namibia in the 2021 ICC Men's T20 World Cup. File Photo: Reuters/Hamad I Mohammed

New Delhi: Skipper Rohit Sharma will believe India have packed enough firepower into their middle order to blow away their opponents and end their global title drought at the T20 World Cup in West Indies and the United States.
India have dominated the business side of the international game but their financial heft has not been complemented by on-field success as they remain bereft of a global title since winning the 2013 Champions Trophy.

They came agonisingly close to ending that barren run twice last year but were outclassed by Australia on both occasions - in the finals of the World Test Championship and the 50-overs World Cup.

That India run the Indian Premier League, the richest T20 competition, and yet have not won the 20-overs World Cup since lifting the inaugural edition in 2007 does not sit well with their fans.

The selectors have resisted any temptation to overhaul the side though and persisted with the familiar core group that includes Rohit, 37, and Virat Kohli, 35, for potentially their last World Cup appearance.

Doubts linger if an ageing top order can really milk the powerplay overs but the selectors have decided to put class and experience above strike rates.

"These guys have been around because they've been good enough to be around," chief selector Ajit Agarkar said after unveiling the squad, almost surprised by doubts around the selection of Rohit and Kohli. "They have played multiple World Cups."

The presence of Suryakumar Yadav, currently the top ranked batter in this format, provides some cushion for India, who have also picked an explosive middle order to make up for any sluggish start.

"The one thing we really looked at was middle-overs hitting," said Rohit, who was part of India's 2007 World Cup inning team. "In the middle overs we wanted someone to come and play that role where he can play freely without worrying about who is bowling."

The wicketkeeping duo of Rishabh Pant and Sanju Samson and all-rounder Shivam Dube have looked in great form with the bat in the IPL. All-rounder Hardik Pandya has struggled in this year's IPL but is a proven match-winner.

In the bowling department, Jasprit Bumrah's new ball mastery and death-overs expertise will be crucial to India's hopes of restricting their opponents.

India have picked four spinners, including all-rounders Axar Patel and Ravindra Jadeja, hoping to capitalise on what is likely to be spin-friendly conditions in the Caribbean.
They begin their Group A campaign against Ireland in New York on June 5 and meet arch-rivals Pakistan four days later.

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