Having witnessed several carnages with the bat in the TATA IPL 2024, it may seem odd to watch low-scoring encounters at the start of the T20 World Cup, longer boundaries as well as outfields where the balls land and plug. Yes, it still is T20 cricket but of a kind we aren’t really used to these days. So far, the ball seems to have had the upper hand, if not dominated and we’ve had a low-scoring game that ended in a Super Over too. And finally, it’s Team India’s turn to play their first game of the competition, against Ireland, in New York.

When India plays, either the team or its players take centre stage and become the talk of the town. But in New York, there’s more – the ground at Nassau County. Why you ask? You’ve already read part of the answer in the intro. But that’s not all! Drop-in pitches, imported from Adelaide, Australia have not got the best of reviews from experts (yet). We saw swing, variable bounce and uncomfortable batters during the first game between the Proteas and the Lankans; a slow outfield to boot. Although the Indians and the Irish face off on a different surface, questions remain on how it will play out. There’s some indication that this will be a better pitch as the Men in Blue (and orange) did play their warm-up against Bangladesh on this very strip. So, you never know.

Team India have some new faces in this squad when compared to the one that travelled to Australia in 2022. Some of them may feature in the Playing XI too. All eyes will be on the approach the Indian batters deploy when they bat. Will they go all guns blazing or will there be a degree of conservation at various points of the innings? The bowling should be spearheaded by the ever-trusted Jasprit Bumrah with choices aplenty in the spin department too.

Ireland have been in piping hot form of late, and recent cricketing history has taught all powerhouse teams that they can never be taken lightly in World Cups. We hope to see our Titan, Joshua Little in action, but also hope that he doesn’t really worry the Indian batters much. We promise to root for him against other teams though. Apart from Josh, they have no shortage of experience in their ranks. Most of their players have featured in World Cups previously and know the pressure of facing a strong team possibly backed by a strong crowd too.

All eyes will also be on Rishabh Pant who returns to the Indian team after a year-and-a-half long break. Not once during the IPL did it look like he had lost his touch or charm, and we would like that to roll in to the World Cup too. A bigger game may be a few days away and the opener will be the perfect setting for the team to get the balance of the playing XI right. To all challenges that the opposition may throw Team India’s way, we say #AavaDe