Four X-factors spearhead Indian challenge

Team India vs Bangladesh, Warm-up
Team India vs Bangladesh, Warm-up (Image: BCCI)

Jasprit Bumrah is hurling unplayable deliveries with unprecedented regularity and Kuldeep Yadav is tossing tricks. Suryakumar Yadav is playing shots that the bowlers are unable to understand and Rishabh Pant is challenging the fundamentals of batting with a moderate degree of success.

Heading towards the business end of the T20 World Cup, the Indian team has several X-factors. All teams have their strengths and strong players. What is the X-factor then? There is no definition, but over the years, players who do things out of the ordinary or defy the grammar book have been classified in this category. They are known, but still have an unknown element about them.

By some quirk of nature, India seem to be having a number of them at the moment. The players mentioned do not follow conventional methods. They devise their own ways and bring in a surprise component. It doesn’t click all the time, but when it does, it shocks the opposition. Even in the days of advanced video analysis, they struggle to find out what exactly it was that hit them.

In Guyana, where India are likely to play their semi-final, the pitch is on the slower side. It means the spinners will have an important role to play. Kuldeep can be a real nuisance if that turns out to be true. A left-arm wrist spinner is a mystery in itself because there are not many of that variety, at any level of cricket. Battle-hardened and wiser by experiences bitter and sweet, Kuldeep is the best in the world when it comes to spinners of this breed.

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Rishabh Pant vs Ireland with his reverse scoop
Rishabh Pant vs Ireland with his reverse scoop (PC: BCCI/X)

Batting on such strips can be a headache and SKY is the best answer for that in international cricket at the moment. That he is innovative is an understatement. He invents shots that bowlers cannot think of and he has been in form in the ongoing event. Forget execution, just to think of those strokes is outrageous at times. Going ahead, he will be one of India’s biggest assets.

Pant is not SKY when it comes to hitting the ball in improbable directions, but he has clarity of thought. There are no half-measures. Sometimes, batters dither whether to do it or not. With him, there is no self-doubt. He goes for what he believes he can do and of course he has ability. That’s a dangerous combination if you are his opponent. Yet to hit top gear, he is showing signs of getting there and that can only be a boon for the team he plays for.

It’s difficult to describe in a few words what Bumrah is doing. In a format where the batter is looking to blast every ball, he delivers missiles that are impossible to touch. Since last year’s 50-over World Cup, he has been consistently devastating in all the formats, which can’t be said of any of his contemporaries. No theory or analysis can accurately describe what exactly he is doing. Four overs of forced inaction from the batters will be decisive in most T20 games and that’s what he is causing.

These are huge factors. All four of them. They are players the opposition cannot plan against. At a time when the openers are not exactly setting lofty standards, these X-factors can be a massive influence. If the others rally around this quartet, fingers crossed, India will be the team to beat.

Also Read: Gulbadin Naib – the Everyman who shocked Australia