World Twenty20: India preview – big-hitting Virat Kohli in otherworldly form

It is almost impossible to look beyond India right now, not just in this group but as winners of the entire tournament. Playing in home conditions is a huge advantage in the first place, but India’s recent form makes venue and condition almost irrelevant. They have won 10 of their last 11 T20 internationals.

They are, by far, the most settled side in the tournament, having known their best playing XI for some months now. Their batting lacks only a late middle-order power-hitter but they hardly need one, given the kind of starts their top order can give them. They also have an unheralded but sturdy bowling attack, with good options for pace and Ravi Ashwin and Ravinder Jadeja as spinners.

And nobody is forgetting that this could be MS Dhoni’s last tournament of international cricket either and the kind of scripts he has had written for him, it would be apt if he signed off with a triumph.

Group 2

Coach: Ravi Shastri

Tournament best: Winners in 2007

Match-winners: Virat Kohli and Ravi Ashwin

• Take your pick, but at least narrow it down to Kohli and Ashwin. Kohli has been in otherworldly form in the format for a while, and almost through his career. Kohli has nine 50s and three 40s in his last 15 innings. Ashwin, meanwhile, is arguably the world's leading all-format spinner, with a remarkable 20 wickets in his last 11 T20Is.

New face: Ashish Nehra

The problem is not that India’s pace bowling stocks have been thin, just that they have never been especially durable. In this tournament, they will have a rare exception in Ashish Nehra, but alongside him will be the new bright young things, Jasprit Bumrah and Hardik Pandya. Both have made promising starts to their career and both are especially attuned to this format.

Key match: India v New Zealand, Nagpur, March 15.

Predicted finish: Winners

Squad: Mahendra Singh Dhoni (captain), Ravichandran Ashwin, Jasprit Bumrah, Shikhar Dhawan, Harbhajan Singh, Ravindra Jadeja, Virat Kohli, Mohammed Shami, Pawan Negi, Ashish Nehra, Hardik Pandya, Ajinkya Rahane, Suresh Raina, Rohit Sharma, Yuvraj Singh

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