T20 World Cup 2021: Nasser Hussain says India aren’t clear favorites; knockout stage still a concern

Virat Kohli and Mohammad Shami | GETTY

Former England captain Nasser Hussain is seeing Team India as favorites for the 2021 T20 World Cup 2021 but he still believes anyone can stun them in the knockouts. He also pointed out that the shortest format doesn’t make India clear favorites for the title as the game changes very quickly in T20 cricket.

Indian team has the strength to take down any opposition, but the knockout stage needs only one bad match to eliminate a strong side. “They are favorites. I wouldn’t say clear favorites because of the format. The shorter the game, things can happen,” Nasser said on Sky Cricket.

“An individual brilliance, a 70 or 80 or 3 deliveries suddenly changes it the other way around. So anyone could upset India in any knockout game,” he added.

India will start their tournament with a face-off against Pakistan on October 24. Their route to the semi-final looks easy and even the cricket pundits believe that Virat Kohli and company would make it to the top four, but their recent record in the knockout stages of ICC tournaments does raise an eyebrow.

“Their record actually as of late in ICC tournaments is not good and that’s something they are going to have to deal with – with the weight of expectations of the Indian audience and fans heavy on their shoulders – when they get to a knockout game, all of a sudden you cannot afford a mistake and that’s going to be a thing for them,” the ex-cricketer said.

Team India haven’t won a mega ICC tournament since their 2013 Champions Trophy triumph in England. They reached the final in the 2014 T20 World Cup, and the semi-final in 2016, along with a semi-final defeat in ODI World Cup 2015 and 2019.

They had a good opportunity to win the 2017 Champions Trophy, but lost to Pakistan in the final. Even in the World Test Championship final, New Zealand managed to beat India earlier this year.

Nasser believes the Indian team doesn’t have a back-up plan if things go wrong in the knockout stage, and that remains a concern for captain Kohli.

“When they get to a stage – you look at the last World Cup against New Zealand – and suddenly it’s a low-scoring game and they don’t have a Plan B, they got rolled over a very good New Zealand side. So that’s going to be an issue for them. The knockout game, the expectations, everyone thinking that they will win. And the reason people think that is when you look at that line-up on paper, it has everything,” he pointed out.