India have an ‘edge’ over their T20 World Cup rivals due to the recently completed Indian Premier League, according to Suresh Raina.
Most of India’s T20 World Cup squad were involved in IPL 2021, which was completed in the United Arab Emirates, where the World Cup is also taking place.
Ravindra Jadeja, Shardul Thakur, Deepak Chahar and India team mentor MS Dhoni all won the IPL with Chennai Super Kings, while Varun Chakravarthy and Venkatesh Iyer were runners-up with Kolkata Knight Riders.
Meanwhile, Shreyas Iyer, Rishabh Pant, Axar Patel, Ravichandran Ashwin and Virat Kohli were all involved in the IPL knockout stages.
‘For India, the message at the T20 World Cup is simple – do it for Virat Kohli,’ Raina wrote in a column for the ICC.
‘It will probably be his last time at this tournament as captain, so it’s very important for him to make everyone believe we can do it and for us to get behind him.
‘India fans can’t wait for the ICC Men’s T20 World Cup 2021 to start for this reason. We have the players, we have the momentum – we just need to go out there and execute now.
‘All of our players have just played the Indian Premier League in the UAE and they have played themselves into top form with eight or nine games in this environment.
‘This gives India an edge on all other teams and makes them one of the big favourites to win the T20 World Cup in my opinion.’
Former India all-rounder Raina also rates Pakistan, Australia and England as challengers to win the T20 World Cup.
While Pakistan players do not feature at the IPL, a number of Australian and English stars were involved in this year’s tournament, gaining experience in UAE conditions and hopefully finding some form.
England won this competition in 2010 and reached the final five years ago, and are bidding to become double World Cup champions following their 50-over success in 2019.
Raina added: ‘We need to remember there are lots of other good teams in the tournament. Pakistan, Australia and England also look very good, and anything can happen in T20 cricket.
‘For me, the key to success for India’s batting lies in the top three. Rohit Sharma is a gun player – he has a brilliant record at ICC events in the past and had a great IPL.
‘We need Rohit, KL Rahul and Virat to bat through to 15 overs and lay the platform. They can set the momentum for the India team by doing this.
‘There are lots of electric combinations in the middle order and obviously Rishabh Pant is going to play a key role there. Hardik Pandya is also very capable as a power hitter.
‘But if the top three are still there at that stage of the innings, there is no target that India can’t chase.’
The 2021 ICC Men’s T20 World Cup group stage starts on Saturday with Australia facing South Africa and England taking on defending champions West Indies.
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