By Aritra Chowdhury
Today:- Mumbai, Mar – With the sixth edition of the World Twenty20 tournament under way, the Indian batsmen have been the dominant factor right from the inaugural tournament in 2007, compared to the country’s bowlers.
A young, energetic and jubilant Yuvraj Singh lit up the inaugural edition of the World T20 in South Africa in 2007 with his batting skills and power hitting.
With the 20-over version an unfamiliar format for cricketers at that time, Yuvraj made batting look simple as he made the tournament memorable not only for him but also for his teammates and fans as he steered India to the title.
After failing to score big against Pakistan and New Zealand in the early stages of the event, Yuvraj unleashed his hard-hitting skills with a 16-ball 58 against England which included the unforgettable six sixes in an over off pacer Stuart Broad. Yuvraj entered the record books with the fastest half-century in the T20 format in just 12 balls.
He followed up with a 30-ball 70 against Australia in the semi-finals to steer his team to the final where they beat Pakistan in a thrilling finish.
The second edition in 2009 in England was a tough outing for the Indians, despite coming into the tournament as favourites and defending champions. The side failed to reach the semi-finals.
Losses to the West Indies, England and South Africa showed them the door. But it was India opener Gautam Gambhir who was the consistent performer during the campaign. The Delhi-born struck 148 runs in five matches, including a half-century against Bangladesh. Pakistan went on to be crowned champions.
The following year, India travelled to the West Indies for the third edition of the competition. Middle-order batsman Suresh Raina showed his class, striking 219 in five matches, including impressive knocks of 101 and 63 against South Africa and Sri Lanka respectively.
But his form was not enough for India to make it to the semi-finals as they lost to Australia, Lanka and hosts Windies to make their way back home. England emerged the champions.
The fourth edition came to the sub-continent as Sri Lanka played hosts in 2012.
The talented Virat Kohli made his presence felt as he smashed 185 runs in five matches. His match-winning unbeaten 78 against Pakistan helped the team keep a clean sheet against their arch-rivals in World Cups.
But the inaugural World T20 champions failed to reach the semis despite some good performances. The West Indies went on to win the competition.
In 2014, the fifth edition was held in Bangladesh and yet again Kohli was the stand out performer for India. His staggering 319 runs from six matches helped the side make it to the final for the second time.
His match-winning unbeaten 72 in the semis against South Africa was enough to steer the men in blue to the final.
But his 58-ball 77 in the final against Sri Lanka was not enough as some impressive performance by the Lankans denied India their second World T20 title. India’s star off-spinner Ravichandran Ashwin took 10 wickets to be the star in the bowling department.
With the sixth edition of the competition already under way in India, the in-form hosts are the favourites to clinch the title after back-to-back T20 series victories against Australia and Sri Lanka apart from clinching the Asia Cup in Bangladesh recently.
The Mahendra Singh Dhoni-led side will once again rely on Kohli to steer the team to triumph when they face Australia, Pakistan, New Zealand in the group stages.
(Aritra Chowdhury can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org )