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    India: Batting solid, bowling iffy, World T20 record lopsided

    Mahendra Singh Dhoni is back at the helm, but fans will hope he has left his denial mode back in Ranchi, and India recognise the need to resurrect their World Twenty20 record in the fifth edition in Bangladesh.

    India are undoubtedly carrying the best assembly of T20 bats to reclaim the trophy they won in 2007, but no semi-final appearance in the last three editions poses serious question marks over the force the former champions have been in the shortest format of late.

    Dhoni may argue that it was just one loss, despite winning everything else, that cost them a place in the last-four in 2012. But it still holds as a record that his team didn't qualify for the semis, which is what matters at the end of the day.

    The 2014 edition, if anything, will be a lot tougher for the big teams who get a straight entry into the Super 10 where top eight Test nations will be joined by two minnows from the qualifying stage - most likely Bangladesh and Ireland.

    So there aren't going to any easy matches in the two Super 10 groups comprising five teams each, from where the top two finishers qualify for the semis.

    India, seeded third, definitely rely on their batting, especially after recalling limited-overs specialists Yuvraj Singh and Suresh Raina. The squad boasts of batsmen capable of clearing the ropes regularly, which makes them one of the most feared line-ups. But quite often of late, that fact has remained confined to words than actions, which will be the challenge for this unit.

    Virat Kohli at the top and skipper Dhoni lower down the order will carry India's batting, with the middle packed with stroke-players. But one question Dhoni will have to answer is India's opening combination.

    Shikhar Dhawan and Rohit Sharma have been doing that jobs since early 2013, but recent failures, including twice in the two warm-up games against Sri Lanka and England, have thrown the in-form Ajinkya Rahane in the fray as Rohit's replacement.

    Why Rohit? Because he has been playing well in the middle order all along for Mumbai Indians, while Dhawan has been an opener throughout his career. And Rahane has been scoring consistently, including on the tours of South Africa and New Zealand, where the openers failed to string a partnership.

    Another possible quandary comes at the No. 3 slot, which Kohli has occupied of late but Raina has been most successful at in T20 cricket. Raina also scored his maiden T20 international century batting at No. 3, the only Indian to do so. Yuvraj is certain to occupy the No. 4 position, followed by the middle order led by Dhoni, followed by allrounders Ravindra Jadeja and Ravichandran Ashwin.


    Captains will have a tricky situation before them in Bangladesh because of the dew. Traditionally, Bangladesh wickets have offered spin, but with games played late in the evening, it may become difficult for the spinners to grip the ball and that may work in batsmen's favour.

    India are carrying three specialist tweakers with them in the form of left-armer Jadeja, offspinner Ashwin and leggie Amit Mishra - other than the effective part-timers Raina and Yuvraj. And with pacers Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Mohammad Shami and Varun Aaron bowling up and down in warm-up, it will be up to the spinners to counter the dew and still deliver. Plus, it may force Dhoni to opt to chase more often.


    India are clubbed with defending champions West Indies, 2009 winners Pakistan, the in-form Australia and a qualifier (most likely hosts Bangladesh) - which gives none of these teams an easy game.

    India start their campaign with the Super-10 opener against Pakistan on March 21 (1900 IST).

    AT WORLD T20

    Reluctant to accept the format at its nascent stage, India - to everybody's surprise - won the tournament's inaugural edition but have since been unimpressive, failing to make it to the semis on the next three occasions. And in their second-round appearance since 2007, they have won just twice.

    SQUAD: Mahendra Singh Dhoni (captain), Varun Aaron, Stuart Binny, Shikhar Dhawan, Ravindra Jadeja, Virat Kohli, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Amit Mishra, Ajinkya Rahane, Ravichandran Ashwin, Suresh Raina, Mohammad Shami, Mohit Sharma, Rohit Sharma, Yuvraj Singh

    March 21: India vs Pakistan, Mirpur - 1900 IST
    March 23: India vs West Indies, Mirpur - 1900 IST
    March 28: India v TBC (Qualifier A1), Mirpur - 1900 IST
    March 30: India vs Australia, Mirpur - 1900 IST