DUBAI // The overwhelming pre-tournament favourites, India did not really look the part in their opening match of the World T20 on Tuesday night, imploding as they chased a modest target of 127 against New Zealand.
Ian Bell, however, believes the hosts will still be the team to beat, their stunning 47-run defeat to the Black Caps notwithstanding. But, the out-of-favour England batsman has warned India, and the rest of the world, to watch out for his teammates.
“The likes of India, I imagine, are going to be favourites,” said Bell, who will be leading the Marylebone Cricket Club (MCC) team this Friday in the Emirates Airlines Twenty20 and later against the defending English county champions Yorkshire in a four-day match, which is the traditional curtain-raiser for the English domestic season.
“Certainly when you are in the subcontinent, Pakistan, Sri Lanka and India are going to be very tough to beat there. I think the West Indies, although I have not seen them, have a lot of power.
“But England, at the minute, with the side they have and the balance, are dangerous. They could beat anyone. There is a lot of power, a lot of batting deep and some skilful bowlers.
“So I think they have got a great opportunity. If it clicks and they can get into a bit of rhythm, then they will be a very dangerous side. So hopefully, they will get a little bit of luck and if they get on a bit of a run, they will be hard to stop.”
Bell also believes England are well stocked in the spin section and he will not be surprised if team management decides on playing all three, especially after the success of the New Zealand spin bowlers against India. The Kiwi spinners – debutant left-armer Mitchell Santner (4-11), veteran offie Nathan McCullum (2-15) and leg-spinner Ish Sodhi (3-18) – shared nine wickets as the hosts were bowled out for 79 in 18.1 overs.
“There’s obviously three spinners out there at the minute with Liam Dawson, Moeen Ali and Adil Rashid,” said Bell. “I am not sure if they are going to play all three — they possibly might do — but, yeah, they certainly have got options of the ball spinning both ways.
“If two left-handers are in, they could go with Moeen and if two right-handers are there, they can go with Adil Rashid. So there is plenty of options as well. I am sure, they have discussed this and they will be looking at all the details of what happened last night and plan for it going forward.”
Bell also pointed out to the depth in the England batting and also the presence of an impact player like Jos Buttler as one of the big reasons why they could go all the way.
“I think when Jos Butler gets going, you cannot stop him,” Bell said. “You saw him out here [in the UAE last November], the way he played against Pakistan. Again, if he is in form, and he faces balls, then anything is possible.
“So he is the key player. But again, they have got some good depth as well. We have talked about some of the spinners with Moeen and Adil batting maybe No 8 or No 9. People like [David] Willey as well are good hitters of the ball.
“So they are going to have a long batting line-up. You hope you don’t use too many, but I think they will keep coming pretty hard. There’s no doubt about that.”
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