Six and a half years ago, it India’s triumph in the inaugural World T20 that saw an aura grow around Mahendra Singh Dhoni. On Friday, as Dhoni spoke ahead of the fifth edition of the event, he seemed desperate to turn back the clock.
India have arrived in Dhaka licking wounds from failed campaigns in South Africa and New Zealand (Tests and ODIs). Under Virat Kohli, who stood in for an injured Dhoni, the team didn’t play like world champions in the Asia Cup.
The team’s form in ODIs has been patchy as they have won just two of their last 12 ODIs, the only wins coming against Bangladesh and Afghanistan in the Asia Cup. Against tougher opposition, namely Pakistan and Sri Lanka, the side was beaten in home-like conditions in Bangladesh.
India has been restricted to playing just one T20 International in the last 14 months. In that particular game they beat Australia with two balls to spare. Since that October night, the highs have been few in terms of results.
Dhoni was guarded when he spoke about his team’s chances. “Our group is quite a competitive one (Pakistan, Australia, West Indies and one qualifier) so all the matches will be important. In the last T20 World Cup, we lost just one match but still we were out of the tournament. So every match is important and we have to be at our best throughout,” Dhoni said on Friday.
Talking about the team’s recent dip in form, Dhoni added, “I think we have had to endure tough times recently but even in these situations it’s not like we hadn’t played good cricket. If you look at our Test performances away from home since 2011 you will see that our displays haven’t been up to the mark. In the last two away series (against South Africa and New Zealand) we have shown that we have talent though we lost both the series.”
The skipper was confident that the Indian team would not carry any baggage from the losses in Tests and ODIs into the Twenty20 format. “T20 is a completely different format. I don’t think it will have a direct affect on twenty20 performance.”
For Dhoni, the period just before the World T20 was an opportunity to step back and take a much needed break after a side strain before the Asia Cup.
“For me, the positive side was to get a bit