first_imgBack in January, when most other teams around the world were struggling to find the right combination for the ICC World Twenty20, India had appeared to hit the jackpot.  (Full World T20 Coverage | Points Table )After the drubbing in the five-match ODI series against Australia, India ran rampage in the T20 series, handing the hosts a 3-0 whitewash. Next, India crushed Sri Lanka at home and then lifted the Asia Cup T20 without a fuss.Meanwhile, the other heavyweights, Australia, South Africa, New Zealand and West Indies had barely played enough T20 cricket. India on the other hand, had played as many as 11 T20 Internationals before the World T20 had started and won 10 of them.India, at home, were red-hot favourites to win the World T20 for a record second time. How could they be stopped? The pitches would either favour their spinners or their hard-hitting batsmen. They would steamroll everyone who came in their way. (Watson to retire from international cricket after World T20 )But New Zealand came up as a rude wake-up call. On a square turner in Nagpur, three Kiwi spinners shocked and stunned India with nine wickets. The hosts faced Pakistan in a must-win game at the Eden Gardens and after a splendid show by the bowlers, the top-order caved in again.Virat Kohli’s genius and Yuvraj Singh’s resilience helped India get past the finishing line against their arch-rivals. But the problems were glaring. Rohit Sharma, Shikhar Dhawan and Suresh Raina had been done in by searing pace; in Nagpur, they had no answers to spin. The flat pitches were nowhere to be seen.advertisementIndia’s usually fleet-footed batsmen were desperate for some relief in Bangalore with its shorter boundaries. Maybe, just maybe, the surface would be to their liking. And what do they get? A slow pitch that allowed Bangladesh to stifle a star-studded batting line-up.  Everyone struggled and India were restricted to 146.Bangladesh knew it was their game to lose from thereon. Tamim Iqbal, aided by two dropped chances early on, sent the Indian fielders on a leather hunt. They were sensible for most parts of the innings before a sensational penultimate over by Jasprit Bumrah left them with an uncomfortable 11 to get off the last ball.Yet, victory was in sight for Bangladesh after Mushfiqur Rahim hammered two boundaries off rank bad balls from Hardik Pandya and then somehow, they lost two wickets in two balls, off full tosses! Pandya conjured up the skill and nerves to steal a one-run win and the nation erupted.India were still alive in the World T20. They have to now beat Australia to reach the semi-finals, but the hosts are still hanging in there with a fighting chance.However, this is not how the Indian players, fan and the media would have envisaged it. A loss to New Zealand, a must-win game against Pakistan and a miraculous jail-break against Bangladesh, who have never defeated India in T20s. But Ashwin put it aptly. India are not  yet contenders for the trophy.”We have not really batted the way where we would be really pleased with our performance. We are a very, very good batting unit. Once we fire on all cylinders we will be great contenders for the title. As of today, with where we stand, I don’t think we are contenders,” Ashwin said after India’s last-ball victory over Bangladesh on Tuesday.But do India have it in them to win this? They certainly do. Kohli is in majestic form and Rohit is just one good knock away from bouncing back. Dhawan can do plenty of damage when he is on songh and Yuvraj has shown the tenacity that was expected of him. Dhoni can keep his cool under pressure and that in itself is a great asset.The pacers have been brilliant over the last three months. Ashish Nehra, Bumrah and Pandya have bowled their hearts out. The young Bumrah has stood out with his accurate yorkers in the death. Ashwin and Jadeja are now seasoned pros, who deliver everytime the chips are down.Raina’s form is a concern but the skipper’s continued backing could be a massive boost for the feisty southpaw.Moreover, India are gradually moving towards happier venues. They play Australia in Mohali and if they do make it to the semis, they are most likely to play the West Indies in Mumbai (provided West Indies top Group 1 and India finish second in Group 2). The final is at the Eden Gardens and it won’t be easy for any team facing India there.advertisementIt’s all easier said than done. But India, after months of preparation, have to win three matches. That’s what it has all come down to. Three matches. Three must-win matches.Mohali was where India had defeated Pakistan in the 2011 World Cup semi-final and Mumbai was where a Dhoni classic had helped them lift the World Cup, after 28 years.But for that dream to be realised, the batsmen have to start firing. India are over-reliant on Kohli and that has to end at some point. It’s time for the other stars to stand up, deliver and be counted.last_img read more