World T20 Special Site; Photos; Beware of unpredictable format
On Tuesday, India open their World Twenty20 2016 campaign against New Zealand. Though World T20 began (Qualifying Stage) on March 8, the real tournament commences tomorrow with the Super 10s. (Ind-NZ match preview)
Playing at home is always an added pressure. With expectations sky-high this time, Dhoni and India are installed as pre-tournament favourites. They are expected to go all the way to the title on April 3. (Tendulkar praises Dhoni)
In recent times, India have been in roaring form in T20 Internationals. They achieved a landmark 3-0 whitewash over Australia in Australia, then followed that with 2-1 success at home over Sri Lanka. They ended World T20 preparations by clinching the Asia Cup T20 with an unbeaten record, in Bangladesh.
Now, with all the pre-tournament hype, planning and team combination done and dusted, it is time for the on-field action to unfold. (Full schedule of WT20)
India are in "Group of Death" (Group 2) with Australia, Pakistan, New Zealand and Bangladesh. Only 2 of the 5 teams go through to the knockouts (semi-finals).
The hosts, along with 9 others gained direct entry to the Super 10 phase. 8 teams battled for 2 spots here, in the qualifying stage. Afghanistan and Bangladesh made the cut.
India and Dhoni can create history by winning the World T20. No other team has managed to win the crown twice or at home. In past 5 editions, we have had 5 different champions (India, Pakistan, England, West Indies, Sri Lanka).
It will be a double landmark success if Dhoni leads India to the title at Kolkata's Eden Gardens next month.
Also for the 34-year-old Dhoni, who captained India to their first-ever World T20 glory in South Africa in 2007 (inaugural edition), this could be his swansong in World T20.
With the next World T20 in 2020 in Australia, it is highly unlikely that we will see Dhoni at this global showpiece event. By 2020, Dhoni will be 38 years old and he is not the one to hang around so long.
Having already quit Test cricket, Dhoni, India's greatest limited overs captain, will be aiming to bow out on a high with a 2nd World T20 silverware. Dhoni is now the only captain to feature in all 6 World T20 tournaments since the start in 2007.
Last time India played an ICC tournament at home, they won, beating Sri Lanka in the final of 2011 World Cup at Mumbai's Wankhede Stadium.
Will history repeat itself 5 years later?
To help Dhoni add another glorious chapter in his cricket history, on April 3, he has the right men with him.
India's matches at World T20 (All games start at 7.30 PM IST)
March 15 (Tuesday) - Vs New Zealand in Nagpur
March 19 (Saturday) - Vs Pakistan in Kolkata
March 23 (Wednesday) - Vs Bangladesh in Bengaluru
March 27 (Sunday) - Vs Australia in Mohali