All eyes on India at World T20


Host nation India enter the World Twenty20 as many people's favourites, but will need to make history if they are to lift the trophy in Kolkata on April 3.

MS Dhoni's side come into the tournament, which begins with six days of preliminary-round matches from Tuesday, in fine form, having followed up a 3-0 clean sweep of Australia in the shortest format with an unbeaten Asia Cup campaign rounded off by an eight-wicket victory over Bangladesh on Sunday.

However, the five previous editions of the World T20 have all produced different champions, meaning India would break new ground should they follow up their success in the inaugural event nine years ago.

In familiar conditions, India - 50-over World Cup winners on home soil in 2011 - will surely take some stopping. A batting line-up featuring the likes of Shikhar Dhawan, Virat Kohli and Dhoni is capable of giving opposition attacks nightmares, while spinners Ravichandran Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja can be expected to pose a threat with the ball.

The emergence of Jasprit Bumrah, meanwhile, has provided a significant boost, the medium-pacer quickly establishing himself as a fine death bowler after making his debut against Australia in January.

India's biggest challenge could well come from an Australia squad packed with a vast array of power-hitters, including David Warner, Aaron Finch, Glenn Maxwell, Shane Watson and James Faulkner, although the absence of paceman Mitchell Starc may prove tough to overcome.

Both India and Australia also appear to have been placed in the toughest group for the Super 10 phase, alongside New Zealand, Pakistan and a qualifier most likely to be Bangladesh on the back of their impressive Asia Cup showing. It remains to be seen whether Pakistan request a change of venue for their fixture against India in Dharamsala, amid security concerns.

Reigning champions Sri Lanka, who have worries over the fitness of skipper and key bowler Lasith Malinga, go up against South Africa, England, West Indies and another qualifier - one of Afghanistan, Hong Kong, Scotland and Zimbabwe - in the other Super 10 pool.

South Africa will look to AB de Villiers - the scorer of the fastest ODI hundred off just 31 balls - to play a leading role, while England's Jos Buttler is another player with the ability to score all around the wicket with remarkable ease. Fireworks are likely from both.

The top two teams from each Super 10 group will face off in the semi-finals, before the iconic Eden Gardens ground stages the 35th and final match of the tournament.