challenges for Indian cricket in 2023
The 2023 ODI World Cup will be played at home. India won the 50-over World Cup the last time it was played in India in 2011.

2022 was a hugely disappointing year for Indian cricket. Barring the ODI series win in England and a few bilateral triumphs over relatively weaker sides, they hardly got anything right. They were embarrassed by 10 wickets in the T20 World Cup 2022 semi-final by England, failed to make the final in the preceding Asia Cup. They also lost the rescheduled Test in England and, towards the end of the year, went down to New Zealand and Bangladesh in consecutive one-day series. India will have better hopes from 2023. We look at five challenges that await them in the New Year.

1. Race for WTC final 

India will take on Australia in four Tests at home from February 9 to March 13 in the Border-Gavaskar Trophy. The series will be a part of the ongoing World Test Championship (WTC). While India stayed in the hunt for a place in the final by beating Bangladesh 2-0 away from home, they still have a massive task on hand. The hosts must win at least three of their four matches against Australia to confirm their berth in the WTC final. While India will have the upper hand, given their home record, they won’t have it easy against the Aussies. A lesser win margin could also be enough to put them in the final, but a lot of permutations and combinations will come into play. Hence, they must go all out to try and win all games.

2. Another opportunity to break ICC’s barren run

India squandered another opportunity to win an ICC title in 2022. They managed to reach the semi-finals, thanks to one good performance against Pakistan and triumph over weaker sides. However, their loopholes were exposed by South Africa in the Super 12 match on a pacy Perth surface. They were atrocious in the knockout clash against England. The 2023 ODI World Cup will be played at home. India won the 50-over World Cup the last time it was played in India in 2011. However, they do not have the genius of MS Dhoni any longer. India have a strong team, without a doubt. But that has been the case for a decade. Can they overcome their inhibitions to lift the crown of world champions?

3. Injury woes

Injuries hurt Team India in a massive way in 2022. Jasprit Bumrah only played a handful of matches across the three formats. He missed the Asia Cup as well as the T20 World Cup, among major tournaments, due to a back injury. Ravindra Jadeja has also been out of action since suffering a freak injury during the Asia Cup in the UAE. India went into the World Cup without two of their biggest match-winners. Skipper Rohit Sharma was also out often, while Harshal Patel hasn’t been the same since returning from his fitness issues.

4. Captaincy confusion 

India had multiple captains across formats in 2022. By the end of it, they weren’t sure who their leader was. Rohit was the full-time captain, but he hardly played any games. KL Rahul, Jasprit Bumrah, Rishabh Pant, and Hardik Pandya all led the team at various stages. Some time back, it was reported that Hardik would be handed full-time white-ball captaincy while Rohit would keep Test leadership. According to a new report, BCCI is satisfied with Rohit as its leader. It is very important for players to know who their captain is. This is very basic stuff. And it is up to the BCCI, selectors and the management to make sure everyone is on the same page.

5. Dealing with workload

Dealing with the workload is another aspect that needs to be closely monitored. India kept giving rest to players frequently during 2022, and the move backfired as players lost rhythm once they returned to the field. Yes there is IPL, World Cup, bilaterals and cricket throughout the year. But resting as much as they did in 2022 is definitely not the way to go. Following a review meeting, the BCCI has asked NCA and IPL franchises to work in tandem to manage the workload of players. The thought sounds interesting, but the application is hugely challenging.

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