India not favourites in Shastri's book

Published: Tuesday, June 9, 2009, 11:51 [IST]
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'It'd be miraculous if India wins cup'

Trent Bridge: Former India captain Ravi Shastri opines that it would be nothing short of a miracle India retains the ICC World Twenty20 Championship title given the erratic nature of cricket's shortest format.

“It would be miraculous if India indeed goes on to defend its crown," said the former all-rounder when asked about India's chances at the event. Meanwhile, rival teams are busy planning a blueprint against defending champions India as critical Super Eight clashes of the ICC World Twenty20 loom later this week.

India has all but sailed through to the second round and in their three clashes, could meet Australia/West Indies (June 12), England (June 14) and South Africa (June 16) to go within two matches of defending their crown. In a format as fickle as Twenty20, legendary Indian opener Sunil Gavaskar is inclined to term India as only "marginally favourites."

Dhoni, on his part, has only encouraged his rivals by putting all his cards on the table. Opposition could thus work on a few areas which could be India's Achilles' heels. Dhoni has espoused his concern about the manner his bowlers are bowling in the first six and final 2-3 overs of the innings.

In the match against Bangladesh, the opponents had 50 on the board within the first six overs. Then, in the last two overs of the innings three sixes were hit from five balls by Bangladesh for a losing cause.

That the poor start and terrible finish is still being taken care of is a reflection on india's vice-like grip on the middle overs. Dhoni presses into service his three key men between the 7th and 16th over -- pacer Ishant Sharma and spinners Harbhajan Singh and Pragyan Ojha.

T20 World Cup-Fixture | Results | Points

These three men picked up six of the eight wickets to fall and were the only ones to finish with their quota of four overs each. Bangladesh effectively lost the match to these three highly proficient young men. Another of Dhoni's method also wouldn't have gone unnoticed to hawk-eye planners of other teams.

Dhoni hates losing wickets in middle overs and doesn't mind if the scorecard moves at a slow run rate.

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