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T20 WC: Why Bhuvi, spinners will hold key for India

Source: PTI
October 17, 2021 17:06 IST
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'India fans can't wait for the ICC Men's T20 World Cup 2021 to start for this reason. We have the players, we have the momentum -- we just need to go out there and execute now.'

Bhuvneshwar Kumar has built his reputation around his ability to swing the ball, but Virat Kohli said the 31-year-old had other tricks up his sleeve. 

IMAGE: Bhuvneshwar Kumar has built his reputation around his ability to swing the ball, but Virat Kohli said the 31-year-old bowler had other tricks up his sleeve. Photograph: Surjeet Yadav/Getty Images

India captain Virat Kohli believes swing bowler Bhuvneshwar Kumar will prove quite a handful with the new ball in the Twenty20 World Cup beginning on Sunday, and said off-spinner Ravichandran Ashwin's fearless bowling will boost their title hopes.

Going by the just-concluded Indian Premier League (IPL) in the United Arab Emirates, swing bowlers could struggle to get any movement on the low and slow pitches in the UAE.

Kumar has built his reputation around his ability to swing the ball, but Kohli said the 31-year-old had other tricks up his sleeve.

 

"His economy rate still continues to be top notch, something that he's always been known for, and his experience comes to the fore under pressure," Kohli said at a pre-tournament media session on Saturday.

"(It's) his understanding of hitting the areas according to the dimensions of field, and what balls to bowl and at what line."

"I'm sure with the new ball he'll definitely get some kind of assistance, and whatever little is there on offer, Bhuvi knows how to make the maximum use out of that. His experience is going to be priceless."

Ashwin is also back in the Twenty20 fold after a two-year gap and Kohli said it was a just reward for the bowler, who had reinvented himself in the game's shortest format.

"One thing that Ashwin has really improved on is bowling with a lot of courage in white ball cricket," Kohli said.

"If you see the IPL in the last couple of years, he's bowled the difficult overs, he's bowled against the top players in the IPL, the likes of Polly (Kieron Pollard) and other power-hitters..."

Former India cricketer Suresh Raina says Kohli deserves to draw the curtains on his T20 captaincy assignment by winning the shortest format's World Cup in the UAE and Oman.

Kohli will step down from T20 captaincy after the World Cup and Raina said the talismanic batter deserves a befitting farewell from his teammates.

"For India, the message at the ICC Men's T20 World Cup is simple -- do it for Virat Kohli.

"It will probably be his last time at this tournament as captain, so it's very important for him to make everyone believe we can do it and for us to get behind him," Raina wrote in a column for ICC.

"India fans can't wait for the ICC Men's T20 World Cup 2021 to start for this reason. We have the players, we have the momentum -- we just need to go out there and execute now."

Raina feels the Indian players featuring in the IPL in the UAE could help them during the World Cup.

"All of our players have just played the Indian Premier League in the UAE and they have played themselves into top form with eight or nine games in this environment.

"This gives India an edge on all other teams and makes them one of the big favourites to win the T20 World Cup in my opinion," he said.

"The conditions in UAE are very similar to what we play India and also in Pakistan. It's a good opportunity for the Asian teams to come and play their natural game."

Raina believes the key to India's success in the tournament lies in the performance of top three batters.

"For me, the key to success for India's batting lies in the top three. Rohit Sharma is a gun player -- he has a brilliant record at ICC events in the past and had a great IPL.

"We need Rohit, KL Rahul and Virat to bat through to 15 overs and lay the platform. They can set the momentum for the India team by doing this," he said.

"There are lots of electric combinations in the middle order and obviously Rishabh Pant is going to play a key role there. Hardik Pandya is also very capable as a power hitter.

"But if the top three are still there at that stage of the innings, there is no target that India can't chase," Raina added.

He believes mystery spinner Varun Chakravarthy is going to play a crucial role for India in the tournament, considering the slow nature of the pitches in the UAE. 

"My experience in the IPL was that the wickets in UAE and Oman will be very, very challenging when it comes to the mystery spinners.

"That makes Varun Chakravarthy the main guy in the India bowling attack. He has showed he can exploit the pace of the pitches," Raina said.

"Varun has only played three T20Is but I'm not concerned by any lack of experience. There is plenty of experience in this team, particularly in the seam attack.

"Bhuvneshwar Kumar in particular leads the way when it comes to experience and knowledge of how to deal with the big games. The inclusion of Shardul Thakur can also give extra strength to the fast bowlers that Virat has at his disposal."

Raina is optimistic about India achieving something special in the tournament.     

"We have been waiting for this T20 World Cup for a long time. It has been a difficult two years but I think we're about to see something special in the UAE and Oman."

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