India begin their campaign of regaining the ICC World Twenty20 title with a game against Afghanistan. It is a game their skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni has said they will not take lightly, and that is the way to go.
A team aspiring to win the Cup has to look to win all its games, for that not only builds a winning habit, but also creates a fear factor in opposition.
That is why even the warm-up games are crucial. India, because of the IPL, could not go earlier to play warm-up games.
Fortunately, the weather and the pitches will be quite similar to those in India, so the acclimatisation needed is only on the body-clock side and not so much on the playing side.
Afghanistan have qualified by dint of some good cricket and while the effects of the war are a question they will be fed up with, they would want to show that despite all that, they still can play good cricket.
Some of them have even cheekily suggested that if they do well, they could be in line for a place in the IPL. That is a great incentive for them. That is a great incentive for them and there will be many a franchise who will be all eyes and ears while the ICC World Twenty20 is on. The game against Afghanistan is one that gives a chance to those out-of-form Indian players to try and recapture some touch. Yuvraj, who had an ordinary IPL, by his standards, will relish the chance to play a relatively tension-free game.
What will be interesting to see is how the Afghanistan bowlers bowl. Do they have quick bowlers or do they have wily spinners? The batting, one can expect, will be attacking, for it is the format they would have been brought up on.
That’s why India’s spinners may have a big role to play since there is every chance that the Afghans might not have batted against the quality spin of Harbhajan Singh and Co.
The game will give India the warm-up. What they must ensure is that it does not get too hot for the team.