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India seek to avoid Caribbean disaster

AFP
Apr 27, 2010 at 12:47pm IST

New Delhi: India go into the World Twenty20 determined to avoid a second big failure in three years in the Caribbean with a solid all-round performance. India, who suffered a humiliating first-round exit in the 50-over World Cup in the West Indies in 2007, need to show their depth in batting, especially after losing hard-hitting opener Virender Sehwag to a shoulder injury.

With record-breaking batsman Sachin Tendulkar not part of the T20 side since 2007, the onus will be on skipper Mahender Singh Dhoni, Gautam Gambhir, Suresh Raina and Yuvraj Singh to put up a formidable batting show.

India were in a similar situation ahead of the last year's tournament in England, but the result was a big disappointment for their fans as they failed to qualify for the semi-finals.

India seek to avoid Caribbean disaster

India suffered a humiliating first-round exit in the 50-over World Cup in the West Indies in 2007.

They travelled to England just a few days after the second edition of the Indian Premier League (IPL) in South Africa, with coach Gary Kirsten citing "fatigue" as one of the reasons for the team's failure.

The limbs will be tired this time also as Indians played virtually non-stop cricket for more than a month in the recent IPL which ended five days before the Cup, but Dhoni downplayed the fatigue factor.

"We will be going into the Twenty20 fully prepared, though we will have very little time to refresh ourselves," said Dhoni.

"As professionals, we are always committed to giving our best. There can be no excuse for failure."

Former champions India are expected to clear the first hurdle having been drawn in the same group as first-timers Afghanistan and South Africa, with the top two advancing to the Super Eights.

Batting will be India's main strength, with Dhoni, Raina, Gambhir, Yuvraj and Yusuf Pathan all capable of dominating any attack with their exciting stroke-play.

The conditions in the Caribbean are likely to favour India more than those in England where their batsman often struggled, especially against short-pitched bowling, on seaming tracks.

India have named two newcomers, batsman Murali Vijay as Sehwag's relacement and paceman Vinay Kumar, after the players' impressive performances in the IPL.

The growing success of the IPL may suggest that India are keen only on the the slam-bang version, but Dhoni's men have played just two T20 internationals since the World meet in June last year.

They lost the first match against World Twenty20 runners-up Sri Lanka by 29 runs before beating the same rivals by six wickets in the second match in December.

Twenty20 cricket may be all about batsmen trying to belt the ball out of the park, but there is still a room for quality bowlers to achieve success as was shown in the recent IPL.

India have effective seamers in Zaheer Khan, Praveen Kumar and Ashish Nehra, who are capable of testing batsmen with variations. Spinners Harbhajan Singh and Ravindra Jadeja also can curb stroke-makers with a tidy line and length.

India have so far won 10 of their 20 Twenty20 internationals.

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