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World T20: Buoyant India take on defending champions West Indies

World T20: Buoyant India take on defending champions West Indies
It will be interesting to see if Indian skipper MS Dhoni once again opens the bowling with offie R Ashwin and asks him to bowl round the wicket. (AFP Photo)

DHAKA: Saturday started off being a cloudy, humid day in the capital of Bangladesh and near the Sher-e-Bangla National Stadium there were storm clouds brewing in the horizon.

It's not yet time for kaalbaisakhi, the north westerly showers that usually are accompanied by strong winds in the summers, but perhaps word has gone around in the heavens that T20 cricket's hit man, Chris Gayle, is in town.

West Indies, the defending champions of the ICC World T20, are all set to kick off their campaign against India, a team they have never lost to in the tournament. One hopes the weather forecast for thunderstorms will be proved wrong, for it could be another cracker of a match.

India don't have a good record against West Indies in T20, but their performance against Pakistan, especially the way their spinners bowled on Friday night, should give them reason of hope against arguably the most dangerous and balanced outfit in this tournament.

Darren Sammy's boys won both their warm-up games against England and Sri Lanka convincingly and India could have another testing time in the field curbing the likes of the Gayle, Marlon Samuels, Dwayne Bravo, Lendl Simmons and skipper Darren Sammy.

It will be interesting to see if Indian skipper MS Dhoni once again opens the bowling with offie R Ashwin and asks him to bowl round the wicket. It's a tactic that worked against Pakistan on Friday. Ashwin has had success against Gayle bowling that line and has dismissed him cheaply, most notably in the IPL final in 2011.

West Indies, though, have other stars who can trouble India. Offie Sunil Narine and Ravi Rampaul are proven T20 performers. Left-arm seamer Krishmar Santokie, who they haven't faced a lot of, is another. The Jamaican pacer was one of the stars of the inaugural Caribbean Premier League. Santokie gets a lot of his wickets either bowled or leg-before and on the slow, low surfaces that the Sher-e-Bangla usually dishes out, he could be a handful.

While Santokie is an unknown commodity, the same can't be said about other players. The teams know each other almost too well thanks to the IPL. Chris Gayle, Ravi Rampaul and Virat Kohli play for the Royal Challengers. Dwayne Bravo, MS Dhoni, Suresh Raina, R Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja form the core of the Chennai Super Kings. Dwayne Smith and Rohit Sharma have shared the dressing room for Mumbai Indians and Darren Sammy, Shikhar Dhawan and Amit Mishra almost helped Sunrisers Hyderabad qualify for the final. There is very little that is secret between the players.

Suresh Raina hit the nail on the head when he said, "We know their players inside out and what kind of gameplan they may employ and how dangerous they can be. Similarly, they also know that our team has good fast bowlers and good spinners. Whoever loses focus will lose the battle."

Key clashes

Kohli vs Narine

Virat Kohli has started the tournament on a bright note, slamming a half-century against England in the warm-up tie and then hitting an unbeaten 36 against Pakistan in the opener. It will be interesting to see how Kohli deals with Windies' best bet in these conditions — Sunil Narine. A super player of spin pitted against a mystery spinner. This one should be a cracker.

Ashwin vs Gayle

He has been inconsistent of late, but if Chris Gayle does get up on the right side of the bed, India can kiss their chances goodbye. Skipper MS Dhoni has decided to open the bowling with R Ashwin in this event, which means the offie will face the formidable task of keeping Gayle quiet in the initial overs.

Dhoni vs Bravo

There is a lot that has happened around Dhoni recently but on the field, he continues to remain calm. The best finisher in the game is pitted this time against his Chennai Super Kings teammate Dwayne Bravo, one of the best all-rounders in the game. Both will be well aware of each others' strengths. Let's see who has a bigger impact this time around

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