The World T20 got underway with the qualifiers in Nagpur on Tuesday, with the 10-nation main event to get underway on March 15, when India take on New Zealand at the VCA Stadium in Nagpur.
Here’s a look at Team India’s 15-man squad:
Mahendra Singh Dhoni
India’s limited overs skipper MS Dhoni has been in this position before. He won the inaugural World T20 in South Africa in 2007 and went on to lift the ICC World Cup in 2011.
Off late his own form had been questioned and his role of a finisher was under the scanner. But since the Australia Tour in January, Dhoni has struck the right cords and appears to have gotten his mojo back.
If he continues to deliver in such a manner, he could be India’s strongest link in the batting order.
Virat Kohli is undoubtedly the most talented and viciously run-hungry batsman in the world. Always up for a challenge, Kohli has been the backbone of India’s batting order for a while now.
In this World T20, his contribution with the bat will pave the path for India’s success. He offers stability at No 3 and changes gears as the situation demands.
Kohli has been India’s finisher and expectation will be high on him to deliver once again.
In the present scenario, nobody is as dangerous a batsman as Rohit Sharma. He can cut and pull, he can flick and drive. A complete batsman with an almost lazy effortlessness that makes him so beautiful to watch, Rohit can flay the opposition bowling and once he gets into his act, he hates throwing away his wicket.
In the last two games at the Asia Cup, he didn’t deliver but the course of the match can be decided based on how he performs at the opening slot. Such is his impact.
However big the target, once he gets going, India can even finish with deliveries to spare. The only worry is that he is a shaky starter.
Throughout the Asia Cup, Shikhar Dhawan had a silent run. But he bounced back in the final with a powerful knock of 60 against Bangladesh. He has a reputation of coming good when it matters the most.
In last year’s World Cup Down Under, his century against South Africa changed the complexion of the game as well as India’s position in the tournament.
It is imperative for Dhawan to give India a solid foundation in the World T20.
For quite some time, skipper Dhoni was struggling to get the balance right in India’s pace line-up. But with veteran Ashish Nehra making the ranks, Dhoni looks a much more relaxed man behind the stumps.
Since Nehra’s inclusion in the squad, he has been India’s go-to-man with the new ball. His ability to bring the ball back into the right hander makes him the most lethal to bowl to righties. Add to that his control and ability to gauge the batsman, and it’s not easy to see why Dhoni supports Nehra so strongly.
In the World T20, Nehra’s performances will decide how the match pans out.
Yuvraj Singh’s presence in the dressing room has given Dhoni freedom to promote himself at No 4. Yuvraj is immensely powerful and can hit the ball cleanly and far. He can dominate the spinners and when needed, up the ante as well.
Since the tour of Australia, he has become a worthy player in the Indian line-up as he delivered with the ball as well as in the field. He picked up important wickets and can be given the ball to deliver a much-needed breakthrough.
As Gautam Gambhir also mentioned, Yuvraj will be key to India’s campaign at the World T20.
Since the 2015 ICC World Cup in Australia, there has been no looking back for Ravichandran Ashwin. In every sense of the word, he has occupied the seat of India’s best spinner.
He played a defining role against Sri Lanka at home recently but failed to impress at the Asia Cup. Nevertheless, Dhoni has a man in his ranks who can bowl at any time, in any situation and as the World T20 progresses, Ashwin will surely play a major role in shaping India’s campaign.
The left-arm spinner is a batsman’s nightmare on subcontinent tracks. His accuracy and ability to hit the same spot over and over again makes him tough to face.
Jadeja is also a complete package. Be it his bowling, batting or fielding, he is always ready to throw himself around and give it his all.
With Ashwin, he has gotten wiser as a spinner and on his day, his bowling can be too hot to handle.
No one can place the ball as beautifully as Suresh Raina does.
Against Australia, he played a match-winning knock and followed it up with sedate contributions at No 4. Being a left-hander, Raina can unsettle bowlers and is capable of changing the complexion of the game with his batting. He is a well-known chaser and can get in some quick overs with his bowling.
His role at the World T20 will be vital as his contributions with the bat can make the difference between India posting a big score or an average one.
He is accurate. He can bowl yorkers at will. He uses the bouncer as a surprise element. And last but not the least, he is a bloody good death-overs bowler. That is Jasprit Bumrah for you.
With the World T20 at home, Bumrah’s contribution will be vital as he possesses the ability to pick wickets with the new ball. Later, not only can he suck the life out of the opposition with his yorkers but he can also mix his bowling well to pick crucial wickets.
India has been in search of a pace bowling all-rounder for some time now. In Hardik Pandya, they’ve finally found one.
Pandya can bowl in the late 130s and possesses good striking power as a batsman. Against Sri Lanka, Pandya’s knocks provided India a late push which took them out of troubled waters. With the ball, he provided important breakthroughs.
With India scheduled to play Pakistan and New Zealand in the group stage, Pandya’s role at No 7 offers the side safety with bat and ball.
MS Dhoni will be happy to know that Harbhajan is on the bench to fall back on. After Ashwin took over as the main spinner, Harbhajan has been reduced to fill in as his replacement.
Nevertheless, Harbhajan proved himself a worthy contender in his only game at the Asia Cup, against UAE.
It is expected that as the World T20 progresses, the wickets are going to slow down and Harbhajan can very well be seen as the third spinner. In terms of experience, he has a lot to contribute.
The way Team India is currently playing, Ajinkya Rahane faces a tough time getting a place in the playing XI.
But like Harbhajan and Negi, Rahane is a strong option waiting on the bench. His presence in the ODI team promises strength and stability at No 4 but he will have to wait for his chances in the World T20.
Although he made a mark for himself in the IPL playing for Rajasthan Royals as an attacking opener, over the years his game has transformed to make him more of a long format player.
Pawan Negi is the new kid on the block. But don’t take him lightly as this pocket transistor packs quite a punch.
Negi first burst onto the scene as a Chennai Super Kings all-rounder who showed that not only can he bowl with precision but also has the power to send the ball into the stands.
Although he played just one match in the Asia Cup, against UAE, he bowled a tight line and got the ball to break from the surface. Known as a T20 specialist in the domestic circuit, Negi could prove an asset at the Asia Cup.
After last year’s World Cup, Mohammed Shami has not been seen in action. He was picked for the Asia Cup but once again failed to recover from his injury.
With no current international experience at his disposal, Shami’s chances look bleak especially when Ashish Nehra and Jasprit Bumrah have delivered match-winning performances.
But as Dhoni mentioned, Shami’s presence in the team could provide strength and control in the pace line-up.