Former India cricketer Suresh Raina says Virat Kohli deserves to draw the curtains on his T20 captaincy stint by winning the shortest format’s World Cup in the UAE and Oman. Kohli will step down from T20 captaincy after the World Cup and Raina said the talismanic batter deserves a befitting farewell from his teammates. India will begin their campaign against arch-rivals Pakistan in Dubai on October 24. “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,” Raina wrote in a column for ICC.
“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.”
Raina feels the Indian players featuring in the IPL in the UAE could help them during the World Cup.
“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,” he said.
“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.”
Raina believes the key to India’s success in the tournament lies in the performance of top three batters.
“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,” he 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,” Raina added.
He believes mystery spinner Varun Chakravarthy is going to play a crucial role for India in the tournament, considering the slow nature of the pitches in the UAE.
“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 showed he can exploit the pace of the pitches,” Raina said.
“Varun has only played three T20Is but I’m not concerned by any lack of experience. There is plenty of experience in this team, particularly in the seam attack.
“Bhuvneshwar Kumar in particular leads the way when it comes to experience and knowledge of how to deal with the big games. The inclusion of Shardul Thakur can also give extra strength to the fast bowlers that Virat has at his disposal.”
Raina is optimistic about India achieving something special in the tournament.
“We have been waiting for this T20 World Cup for a long time. It has been a difficult two years but I think we’re about to see something special in the UAE and Oman.”
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