On the eve of the marquee clash between arch-rivals India and Pakistan at Mirpur, former India skipper and NDTV expert Sunil Gavaskar feels Mahendra Singh Dhoni's return will boost India's chances in the ICC World Twenty20 championship. Dhoni had skipped the recently-held Asia Cup due to injury and the team was led by Virat Kohli. (India-Pakistan set to get the ball rolling as Super-10 beckons)
Indian selectors also included T20 specialists Yuvraj Singh and Suresh Raina in the World Twenty20 squad. Both have shown signs of good form in the two warm-up matches India played in Bangladesh. "Dhoni's return will change India. Yuvraj and Raina are also back. It's a plus-plus for India after Asia Cup," Gavaskar told NDTV on Thursday. (Also Read: Unrest in Pakistan camp ahead of marquee clash against India)
Both Yuvraj and Dhoni had anchored India to their maiden T20 title in 2007. Ever since, India have failed to qualify to the knockout stages in three editions of the tournament. "It's India batting versus Pakistan bowling. It will be a humdinger and there will be no favourites," said former Indian wicket-keeper Farokh Engineer to NDTV. Gavaskar feels that Pakistan will have a slight edge in the shortest format of the game. (Paradise lost for Pakistan?)
In their latest clash in the Asia Cup, Pakistan got the better of India, thanks to some final-over heroics by Shahid Afridi, who slammed two consecutive sixes to seal a win. Engineer felt that it is down to the Indian bowlers to tame the big-hitting Pakistan all-rounder. (Death bowling India's biggest concern, says MS Dhoni)
"Shahid Afridi is a bit of a phenomenon. When he gets going, he is capable of murdering any bowling attack on his day. It's up to the India bowlers. They have to practice yorkers," Engineer said. (Shahid Afridi key for Pakistan, says Mohammad Hafeez)
Ahead of the tournament in Bangladesh, MS Dhoni & Co. have the task of picking their best combination in both bowling and batting departments. Gavaskar suggested that India need to bank on experience.
"Three spinners and two new-ball bowlers is a good Indian combination versus Pakistan. Experience is needed and Stuart Binny will have to sit out," Gavaskar said. (Pakistan can win World Twenty20 title: Najam Sethi)
In the top-order, Engineer does not expect too much tinkering. "I will continue with Shikhar Dhawan and Rohit Sharma as openers. Fielding will be key in T20," Engineer said.
Bowling has been India's Achilles heel in the recent past and both Gavaskar and Engineer expressed the need to bowl better in the death overs. Gavaskar said a leg-spinner could even win a match and backed the inclusion of Amit Mishra, not a Dhoni favourite.
"Amit Mishra is high on confidence after Asia Cup. Leg-spinners are not easy to score of. He will make a difference and can win a match," Gavaskar said.
Having being placed in a tough group, alongside Pakistan, Australia and West Indies, Gavaskar stressed on the importance of starting with a win. "Starting on a winning note is important. India is in a group of death and hence a win will lift team's morale," Gavaskar said.