The Indian side is full of utility players, writes Sourav Ganguly
The Indian players will be a confident lot when they begin their defence of the World Twenty20 crown with a match against Bangladesh on Saturday.
India had surprised many in the championship two years ago, but as it embarks on a mission to retain the title this year, the expectations from all and sundry will be sky high, and everyone in India will expect the team to come back as the World champion again.
The Indians are, undoubtedly, one of the favourites in the competition, with an all-round side filled with utility players and exceptional fielders.
The recent IPL has displayed further proof of the abundant talent in Indian cricket, and youngsters like Rohit Sharma and Suresh Raina will now look to perform consistently on the world stage.
I am expecting another blistering display from Rohit’s blade against Bangladesh, and with Sehwag still a doubtful starter, Rohit may have another opportunity to open the innings.
It is crucial that the best players in a team bat up the order as there are just 20 overs to play with. Suresh Raina is another quality player who must come in at No. 3 or 4 in order to have ample time to put up a big score.
Full of confidence
The Indian batsmen are all in good touch, and with a month of IPL action behind them, they will be full of confidence against the Bangladesh bowlers.
Yusuf Pathan came into prominence after the last World Twenty20 championship, and he will look to get some runs early on in this edition.
He is another batsman who can be used as a floater — bat anywhere in the order — and he will surely fancy the small grounds in England.
As far as India’s bowling is concerned, there is a problem of plenty with every seamer in good form. R.P. Singh will be raring to go after winning the Purple Cap in the IPL, and I would pick him in the starting line-up as his bowling is best suited to the English conditions where the ball swings a lot more in the air.
Praveen Kumar will also relish the conditions on offer, and will surely look to pick up a few Bangladesh wickets when he takes the new ball.
Bangladesh shocked many by defeating India in the 2007 World Cup in the Caribbean, which eventually led to India’s first round exit, and the Bengal tigers will be looking for a similar upset on Saturday as anything is possible in Twenty20 cricket.
Skipper Mohammad Ashraful must come to the party early on in the tournament, and a good knock against India will be just the tonic his batting needs after an IPL season where he got very little opportunity to bat.
My Kolkata Knight Riders teammate Mashrafe Mortaza will also love to get into the thick of things at the earliest, and show the sceptics what a fine bowler he really is.
Mortaza has done well against India in the past, and the batsmen will have to be slightly selective against him early on.
All in all, we are in for a keen contest.
I am backing India to be a major force in the tournament and, without doubt, a favourite for a final berth.
— Professional Management Group