Is India’s T20 World Cup title drought down to forgetting 2007 template?

Image collected from BCCI and RevSportz Archives

Jake Fraser-McGurk hit the first ball he faced for a six. Bowler Spencer Johnson was stunned. In the Delhi Capitals dug-out, team director Sourav Ganguly shook his head in disbelief. DC were playing against Gujarat Titans and it was the irreverence of youth.

Fraser-McGurk could well be opening the innings for Australia, alongside Travis Head, at the upcoming T20 World Cup. Australia also have David Warner and Glenn Maxwell’s firepower at the top of the order. Defending champions England have Phil Salt, Jos Buttler and Jonny Bairstow in their top order. Hosts West Indies have serious hitters like Johnson Charles, Kyle Mayers and Nicholas Pooran at the top. Against that, India’s top-order comprising Rohit Sharma and Virat Kohli looks a bit stale, not in terms of class but power-hitting-wise.

The Ajit Agarkar-led selection committee is unlikely to ditch the seniors when it picks the squad for the T20 World Cup. The 2007 template is going to be ignored yet again. It’s funny that India had set the template for success in this format 17 years ago and they never revisited it.

Back in 2007, with the inaugural T20 World Cup round the corner, the idea came from Rahul Dravid, who persuaded Sachin Tendulkar and Sourav Ganguly, also, to skip the World Cup. Dravid, then India captain, wanted to give youth a chance in a format that was meant for the youngsters. A young squad led by MS Dhoni went to South Africa and beat Pakistan in the final to win the trophy. India haven’t won it since.

At 29 years of age, Ajit Agarkar was the senior-most player in the 2007 squad followed by Virender Sehwag who was 28. Rohit Sharma was a callow youngster of 20. Agarkar is the chief selector now, while Rohit, 37, will lead the team. Dravid is the head coach.

The ongoing IPL is showing the power of young Indian players who appear to be ready for the next level. Also, last year, a young Indian team beat Australia 4-1 in a five-match home T20I series. However, it remains debatable if India not winning another T20 World Cup is down to forgetting the 2007 template.

“I don’t think so. T20 is a format where anyone can beat anybody on a given day. I don’t think India not winning another T20 World Cup after their success at the inaugural edition has anything to do with seniors and juniors,” Dilip Vengsarkar, the former India captain, who was the chief selector in 2007, told RevSportz.


Vengsarkar also believes age can never be a factor for team selection in any format. “It’s about the form and fitness of the players.” At the same time, he agrees that the game has evolved a lot over the years and India now have fantastic bench strength. “The emergence of youth has given the selectors a large pool to choose from.”

Lalchand Rajput, the 2007 T20 World Cup-winning coach, concurred. “India not winning another T20 World Cup has nothing to do with not following a certain template. Other teams have improved and the IPL has contributed to their improvement,” he told RevSportz. “Also, the IPL has blurred the line between senior and junior. There’s no senior and junior as such. Everyone is equal. Even the junior-most cricketer is rubbing shoulders with the top players in the world.”

But in an era, where 170ish totals have become passé and 200-plus scores are being posted for fun, can a team with conventional batters like Rohit and Kohli up the order be successful? Only a few days ago, Sunrisers Hyderabad scored 125 for no loss against DC in the first six overs, riding on the pyrotechnics of Head and Abhishek Sharma.

“Both Rohit and Kohli (still) have enough value in this format. 100 per cent. I think we are just jumping the queue. You won’t get 125/0 in six overs every day. It doesn’t happen like that. The Impact Player rule has contributed to the scoring pattern in this year’s IPL. Teams are going (after the bowling) from the word go. You will not have an Impact Player at ICC events,” said Rajput, the current head coach of the UAE national team.

India’s success at the inaugural T20 World Cup prompted a certain Lalit Modi to launch the IPL in 2008, and cricket changed forever. Ironically, India haven’t won a T20 World Cup since the inception of the IPL, the world’s best T20 league. Will it change this time? Maybe, aggression-wise, the Rohits and the Kohlis will have to match their English and Australian counterparts to make that happen. For the record, England and Australia, not prisoners of superstar culture, have moved on from Joe Root and Steve Smith in the shortest format.