India and MS Dhoni's Only Worry at the 2014 World T20 Is Complacency

Chris TealeFeatured ColumnistMarch 28, 2014

India's captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni, right, and teammate Virat Kohli celebrate their win over Bangladesh in the ICC Twenty20 Cricket World Cup match in Dhaka, Bangladesh, Friday, March 28, 2014. India won the match by eight wickets. (AP Photo/Aijaz Rahi)
Aijaz Rahi

India have been in cruise control in the World Twenty20 so far, taking comfortable victories against Pakistan, West Indies and Bangladesh and securing a berth in the semifinals.

Barely tested so far, the highest target for victory required has been the 139 the tournament hosts set them earlier today, something the Indians went past for the loss of just two wickets.

In effect, their three victories have all had striking similarities, from Mahendra Singh Dhoni winning the toss and choosing to field and going on from there.

Early on, the Indians have strangled their opponents with the ball, preventing them from gathering any momentum at all during the Powerplay overs.

Interestingly, in all three of their matches, India’s bowlers have prevented the opposition from going above 35 in the opening six overs, with only Pakistan managing to score over 30.

Having stymied their opponents’ openers in the opening exchanges, the spin bowlers then come into their own, with Ravichandran Ashwin, Amit Mishra and Ravindra Jadeja all playing a role in taking wickets and drying up the runs.

This means that the opposition have been unable to increase their run rate to seven runs per over or beyond, meaning that India’s batsmen are left to chase an infinitely reachable total.

Then, despite the inconsistent performances of opener Shikhar Dhawan, top-order players Rohit Sharma and Virat Kohli then play a key role in leading them home comfortably.

DHAKA, BANGLADESH - MARCH 28:  Virat Kohli of India bats as Mushfiqur Rahim of Bangladesh looks on during the ICC World Twenty20 Bangladesh 2014 match between Bangladesh and India at Sher-e-Bangla Mirpur Stadium on March 28, 2014 in Dhaka, Bangladesh.  (P
Scott Barbour/Getty Images

So in-form have the pair looked that both have passed 50 each in the last two matches, with their strong and seemingly unbreakable partnerships ensuring India take an easy win.

It is a strategy that has served them very well so far in the tournament, albeit against a moderate Bangladesh and the inconsistent West Indies and Pakistan.

They will now be looking forward to their final Super 10 game against Australia on Sunday, then a semifinal clash next week in Mirpur, with hopes of topping their group.

However, despite all this comfort, questions may well remain about India’s team, given that they do not seem to have been tested so far.

The first centres on whether they are truly prepared to set a target if they are asked to bat first by the opposition.

Having been so reliant on their top order to chase down small totals, some batsmen may well be a little out of match practice and lacking time in the middle. So to be asked to step up and set a target—especially in the semifinals—may be a tall order.

There are also questions surrounding the bowlers and how they will cope if a team is able to find form in the opening Powerplay and start hitting boundaries regularly. Will they be able to regain their control, or will such an event be so surprising that they end up conceding over 200 in 20 overs?

DHAKA, BANGLADESH - MARCH 23:  Amit Mishra celebrates after dismissing Marlon Samuels of the West Indies during the ICC World Twenty20 Bangladesh 2014 match between the West Indies and India at Sher-e-Bangla Mirpur Stadium on March 23, 2014 in Dhaka, Bang
Scott Barbour/Getty Images

Finally, if required to chase a large total, India may find themselves unprepared to do so, given the paucity of competition so far.

In this year’s World T20, they have not been used to chasing large totals at all, so to do so amid the pressure of a semifinal will again be a tough ask. As such, Dhoni and his team will need to keep working hard. If they are complacent enough to believe that the trophy is theirs to lose, it will come back to bite them in a big way.

India have looked incredibly strong, and we will soon find out just how strong they are when they come up against other sides who have been impressive in this tournament.

They may well be one of the favourites to take an overall victory at the World T20, but they will be conscious that one difficult game may prove to be their undoing, even at this stage.

It is up to Dhoni and his players to stay motivated, as surely their remaining games will not be as relatively straightforward as those that have gone before.