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ICC T20 World Cup: 'Win it for Virat Kohli,' Suresh Raina has one simple message for Team India

Dubai, October 17: Former India cricketer Suresh Raina has one simple message for Team India preparing for the upcoming ICC T20 World Cup 2021 i.e. win the cup for Virat Kohli.

Kohli has announced stepping down as the captain of India's T20I side after the showpiece event which will be held in the UAE and Oman. The elusive ICC trophy has eluded Kohli the captain ever since he look over the reigns of the national side in 2017.

This is the first time when Kohli will be leading the Men In Blue in the T20 World Cup and Raina wants the team to make it special for their captain.

In an article for the ICC, Raina wrote, "For India, the message at the ICC Men's T20 World Cup is simple - do it for Virat Kohli. It will probably be his last time at this tournament as captain, so it's very important for him to make everyone believe we can do it and for us to get behind him."

Talking about Team India's preparedness for the upcoming marquee event, Raina said the recently concluded IPL 2021 will bode the Indians well.

"India fans can't wait for the ICC Men's T20 World Cup 2021 to start for this reason. We have the players, we have the momentum - we just need to go out there and execute now. All of our players have just played the Indian Premier League in the UAE and they have played themselves into top form with eight or nine games in this environment.

"This gives India an edge on all other teams and makes them one of the big favourites to win the T20 World Cup in my opinion."

Raina also stated that the weather and pitch conditions in the UAE will aid Asian countries and it will provide them with an opportunity to play their natural game.

"The conditions in UAE are very similar to what we play India and also in Pakistan. It's a good opportunity for the Asian teams to come and play their natural game.We need to remember there are lots of other good teams in the tournament. Pakistan, Australia and England also look very good, and anything can happen in T20 cricket," he added further.

The left-handed batsman from Uttar Pradesh - who was part of the 2007 T20 World Cup-winning Indian side - stated the key to India's success will be the top-three i.e. Virat Kohli, Rohit Sharma and KL Rahul.

"For me, the key to success for India's batting lies in the top three. Rohit Sharma is a gun player - he has a brilliant record at ICC events in the past and had a great IPL.

"We need Rohit, KL Rahul and Virat to bat through to 15 overs and lay the platform. They can set the momentum for the India team by doing this," Raina added further.

Talking about the exciting cricketers in the Indian side like Rishabh Pant, Hardik Pandya, Raina said, "There are lots of electric combinations in the middle order and obviously Rishabh Pant is going to play a key role there. Hardik Pandya is also very capable as a power hitter. But if the top three are still there at that stage of the innings, there is no target that India can't chase."

Highlighting the importance of India's mystery spinner Varun Chakravarthy in the conditions in UAE, Raina said, "My experience in the IPL was that the wickets in UAE and Oman will be very, very challenging when it comes to the mystery spinners.

That makes Varun Chakravarthy the main guy in the India bowling attack. He has shown he can exploit the pace of the pitches. Varun has only played three T20Is but I'm not concerned by any lack of experience."

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Story first published: Sunday, October 17, 2021, 15:42 [IST]
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