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‘Pressure will be on India’

India are the favourites on paper to retain the Twenty20 World Cup. They will have added pressure but that's what MS Dhoni has become adept at handling in the last two years, said former Test player Sanjay Manjrekar. Heena Zuni Pandit reports.
Hindustan Times | By Heena Zuni Pandit, New Delhi
UPDATED ON MAY 27, 2009 12:22 AM IST

After A quick recap of the defining moments of the T20 World Championship --- Chris Gayle's heroics, Brett Lee's hattrick, Yuvraj's six sixes off Stuart Broad and Misbah-ul Haq losing the plot in the closing stages of the final, it was time to shift focus to the T20 World Cup in England.

At a glittering function on Tuesday, the trophy for next month's mega event was brought to India and was make public by Campbell Jamieson, general manager, commercial, International Cricket Council (ICC). Sharing the dais were eminent commentators Wasim Akram, Sanjay Manjrekar and Alan Wilkins. Apart from the unveiling, the schedule and telecast of the matches were also announced.

Later, the commentator trio spoke on several issues like India's triumph in South Africa two years ago and the forthcoming event in June.

On the T20 World Championship

Manjrekar: When introduced, the concept of having a T20 (World Cup) wasn't as big as the 50-over World Cup as India, in particular, was reluctant to participate. After winning in South Africa, things have changed. The event is now as important as any other event.

Akram: The T20 format is now accepted universally. With the IPL moving to SA, the world got to see all the elements in a span of three hours. Here (in the World Cup), it will be nation verses nation, so its success is a foregone conclusion.

Wilkins: The T20 World Championship was a fine exhibition of skill from around the world. With the women's T20 World Cup running parallel it would be a grand show.

On India’s chances this year

Manjrekar: It was a fairy tale with India beating Pakistan by a small margin of five runs. Even now, India are the favourites on paper. They will have added pressure but that's what MS Dhoni has become adept at handling in the last two years. But, that doesn't mean India will win it this year.

Akram: It's up to India on how they capitalise on last time's success. As this team is no more dependent on one player and they have good bench strength as well, we are definitely looking at a strong team.

Wilkins: India have the advantage of going in as the defending champions, but that will also add pressure on them.

On Pak’s prospects at the World Cup

Manjrekar: Pakistan have some really talented players like Shahid Afridi and Shoaib Malik, who are ideal for the T20 format, but that's only if they click at the right time.

Akram: Pakistan are well rested as against India who have played a lot of cricket. Though Pakistan lost the one-day series to Australia, they won the T20s comfortably. They would be eager to show the world what they are capable of. About the World Cup being moved out of Pakistan, the PCB could have handled the situation better before the decision came.
They should have realised that this could happen.

Wilkins: The West Indies are the dark horses.

On players who would stand out in England

Manjrekar: Chris Gayle.

Akram: Afridi, Lasith Malinga, Suresh Raina and Rohit Sharma.

Wilkins: RP Singh stands out. England have Ryan Sidebottom but he pales in comparison to RP.

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