West Indies and Pakistan identified as strongest contenders for the trophy
A swashbuckling West Indies and a talented Pakistan will pose the biggest threats to India captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni's dream of lifting his second Twenty20 World Cup title, according to former skipper Sourav Ganguly.
Under Dhoni, India won the inaugural Twenty20 World Cup in South Africa in 2007 and lifted the 50-over World Cup on home soil last year. Boasting a side packed with exciting stroke-makers, India will head to Sri Lanka for the Sept 18-Oct 7 tournament as one of the favourites but Ganguly remains wary of the West Indies' skills in the shortest form of the sport.
"They are a powerhouse," Ganguly, who will be part of the commentary team in Sri Lanka, told reporters on Tuesday. "Guys like Chris Gayle, (Kieran) Pollard, Dwayne Smith, Andre Russell, and they got (off-spinner) Sunil Narine. He can be a match-winner.
"They also have a good fast bowling attack with Fidel Edwards and Kemar Roach - all bowling at 90 miles an hour," Ganguly added as former India player Sanjay Manjrekar, sitting next to him, nodded in approval.
"West Indies is a strong Twenty20 team because they have got the best four Twenty20 players in the world," said Manjrekar, who played 37 tests and 74 one-day internationals from 1987-1996.
Ganguly also talked up Pakistan's chances of claiming a second Twenty20 global title to add to their victory in the tournament three years ago. "They have got bundles of talent. If they get going, they can be very dangerous," he said.
Manjrekar reckoned Pakistan, who have not hosted international cricket since 2009 because of the volatile security situation at home, would give a good account of themselves in Sri Lanka. "The thing with Pakistan is that because there is not enough cricket happening back home, they are not in the spotlight very often. Come an ICC event, that's Pakistan's opportunity to show the world what they are made of.
"They have always been the show-off of world cricket. Pakistanis have that thing about showing off their skills. Shoaib Akhtar, you know, wanted to show off his bowling.
"This is the time for them to get the attention of the cricket-loving public and they would want to seize it."
Both former players, however, still expect India to stave off every challenge and go on to win the title.
"India always have a great chance, especially in limited-overs cricket. They have got the players who can clear the boundary with ease and they will be playing in the sub-continent," Ganguly enthused.
"The Indian team has got plenty of match winners... and if the pitch is conducive to spin, Dhoni is a master of using his slow bowlers," Manjrekar added.