The Telegraph
Friday , March 21 , 2014
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‘Dhoni return a huge boost’

New Delhi: Sunil Gavaskar, on Thursday, feels captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni’s return to the India side will boost the team’s chances in World T20.

Dhoni had skipped the Asia Cup because of a side-strain, which he suffered during the second Test against New Zealand. In his absence, the team was led by Virat Kohli.

The selectors have also included the experienced Yuvraj Singh and Suresh Raina in the squad. Both the batsmen were dropped from the Asia Cup squad due to poor form. In the two warm-up matches India played in the lead-up to the tournament, Raina has shown signs of good form. Yuvraj, though, is yet to make an impact.

Gavaskar believes the addition of the duo has bolstered India’s batting.

“Dhoni's return will change India… It will boost India’s chances. Yuvraj (Singh) and (Suresh) Raina are also back. It’s a plus-plus situation for India after Asia Cup,” Gavaskar told a TV channel.

India take on arch-rivals Pakistan, in the tournament opener, in Mirpur, on Friday. Apart from India and Pakistan, Group 2 also features Australia and the West Indies. Placed in such a tough group, Gavaskar said it is important for India to start with a win.

“Starting on a winning note is important. India are in a group of death and hence a win tomorrow will lift team’s morale,” the former India captain said.

Gavaskar said India should bank on experience against Pakistan and suggested that the team management should include leg-spinner Amit Mishra in the playing XI.

“Three spinners and two new-ball bowlers is a good Indian combination versus Pakistan. Experience is needed and Stuart Binny will have to sit out,” Gavaskar said.

“Amit Mishra is high on confidence after the Asia Cup. Leg-spinners are not easy to score of. He will make a difference and can win a match,” he said.

In the latest clash between the two sides, in the Asia Cup, Pakistan got the better of India, courtesy Shahid Afridi’s pyrotechnics. The all-rounder hit two consecutive sixes off the last over, bowled by Ravichandran Ashwin, to seal the tie in Pakistan’s favour.

Farokh Engineer feels Shahid Afridi will play a key role for Pakistan again. “Afridi is a bit of a phenomenon. When he gets going, he is capable of murdering any bowling attack on his day. It’s up to the India bowlers. They have to practise yorkers,” the former India wicket-keeper said.

Engineer, though, doesn’t consider any side favourites. “The contest will be between India batting versus Pakistan bowling. It will be a humdinger and there will be no favourites,” he said.

Engineer does not want the Indian thinktank to tinker too much with the batting line-up. “I will continue with Shikhar Dhawan and Rohit Sharma as openers. Fielding will be key in T20,” Engineer said.