Will Indian Premier League Exposure Hurt India in ICC World Twenty20?
Despite the Indian Premier League exposure, teams such as Australia, South Africa and England will find it difficult to deal with spinning conditions in India during the ICC World Twenty20.
The Indian Premier League was a defining moment for Indian cricket. Not only did it change the dynamics of the game but it also gave foreign players valuable insight into playing in Indian conditions.
So has the IPL exposure helped players from Australia, South Africa, New Zealand and England to get accustomed to conditions that are alien to them?
Ask India's Test skipper and Virat Kohli and he would tell you that IPL has actually taken the concept of "home advantage" away from the hosts.
"So many players all around the world have played in the IPL for 8-9 years now, so they are pretty familiar with the Indian conditions," Virat Kohli had said in December last year.
"They (foreign players) know where to bowl and which shots to hit in Indian conditions. It's not such a big home advantage anymore and especially with formats like T20 where the cricket is so quick. So any team could be a favourite," he had added.
IPL boon or bane?
There is no doubt that IPL has helped India unearth some real genuine talents. The likes of Ajinkya Rahane, Suresh Raina and Ravindra Jadeja have honed their T20 skills playing in the IPL, which in turn has helped the Indian national team.
But the flip side to that is how the likes of AB de Villiers, Chris Gayle, Brendon McCullum have gotten accustomed to Indian conditions and excelled in it.
The recently concluded South Africa series was a hint that batsmen these days know when and how to target a bowler.
It takes a great bit of skill as Jean-Paul Duminy showed in his cool chase of 200 in the first of the three Twenty20 Internationals.
Duminy's experience stems from the fact that he did well for Delhi Daredevils in IPL 8. He scored 414 runs from 14 matches at an average 41.40 and at a strike rate for 131.42.
De Villiers was the top-scorer for Royal Challengers Bangalore in the 2015 season, with 513 runs with a best of 133 not out off just 59 balls against the Mumbai Indians.
Gayle smoked a 57-ball 117 against Kings XI Punjab and scored at a strike rate of 147.44 in the 2015 season, showing that T20s are not just "Luck by Chance".
But the Twenty20 title will be decided in India depending on which captain will be able to keep his cool under pressure.
In India's case, Mahendra Singh Dhoni may have looked a pale shadow of himself with the bat, but his cricketing acumen can't be ignored.
Dhoni is a proven customer when it comes to taking calculated risks and has done it for multiple the years with Chennai Super Kings.
But India's spin twins Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja would be pivotal to India's success. The spinning tracks will not be easy for foreign players to take advantage of. Gayle, De Villiers and others have shown that they have chinks in their armour.
India's fast bowling department may look barren due to injuries or lack of form, but come World Twenty20, it should come good, considering they would be bowling in conditions they have been brought up on.
Veteran Ashish Nehra still is a potent force with the ball. Jasprit Bumrah has had a great start to his international career. Hardik Pandya too was impressive with in his first T20 international outing and his big hitting skills will be an added bonus.
Toss could play a major role
Besides that, toss could be a crucial factor. The recent trend that we have seen in the IPL is that skippers opt to bowl first in day-night games.
Besides that, not many teams have good slow bowlers. Teams like Australia, New Zealand are pace heavy, while South Africa and England tend to choke at crucial intervals.
Hence, it's safe to say that even though the IPL has helped other teams understand Indian conditions better, but India playing in home conditions, still hold the advantage counting them out will be a big mistake.