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Asia Cup: It's advantage Team India, feels Ian Chappell

Late-order big hitting is Mahendra Singh Dhoni & Co's weakness but their top order brilliance negates that grey area, writes Ian Chappell

The players crucial to T20 success are a top three, all capable of a quick-fire but substantial score, a new ball bowler who takes wickets at both ends of an innings, a spinner who buys wickets in the middle overs, finishing specialists with both bat and ball and fielders who excel in catching, saving runs and hitting the stumps.

India openers Rohit Sharma (left) and Shikhar Dhawan during their 75-run stand in second Twenty20 international against Sri Lanka in Ranchi last month. Pics/AFP
India openers Rohit Sharma (left) and Shikhar Dhawan during their 75-run stand in second Twenty20 international against Sri Lanka in Ranchi last month. Pics/AFP

They generally perform the starring roles and then you have the support players; the middle-order hitters who can deliver an over or two and field like demons, tidy bowlers who specialise in economy and last but by no means least, a competent 'keeper who can bat.

It's more specialised than choosing the best five batsmen and the four top bowlers, the best 'keeper and a capable all-rounder to fill out a Test line-up.
In just nine years since the inaugural World T20 tournament, the importance of six hitting has expanded. It'll play a prominent part in the 2016 tournament, where Indian pitches can be flat and the boundaries short.

Forget for a moment the debate over bats improving while the boundaries are shrinking. In the prevailing circumstances it makes sense to select boundary clearing batsmen; if you hit the ball in the air, better it lands in the stands than stays within the playing field.

India, Oz favourites
So who are the teams with the strongest array of the necessary components to win the upcoming World Twenty20 tournament? For once, all of the Big Three off the field rate highly on the field, as England has finally got it's short form cricket together.

India and Australia are perennial favourites entering a World tournament and joining that trio are South Africa with the usual proviso; until they reach the knockout stages. I'd add New Zealand, who even without the dynamic strokeplay of Brendon McCullum, have serious fire power and I would've had the West Indies on the list if it wasn't for the on-going Civil War between players and administrators.

Pakistan's unpredictability, which used to be a strong point, has now become a weakness called inconsistency. The retirement of two great stalwarts in Kumar Sangakkara and Mahela Jayawardene is too much for Sri Lanka to
overcome.

No 3 batsman Virat Kohli has been consistent - 311 runs in seven T20I matches this year at an average of 103.67
No 3 batsman Virat Kohli has been consistent - 311 runs in seven T20I matches this year at an average of 103.67

The four most likely to qualify for the semi-finals are England and South Africa from Group 1 and India and Australia from the second group. The side best placed to upset those qualifiers is New Zealand, making their early clashes with India and then Australia compelling.

Of the top four candidates, India are slight favourite because of its all-round ability and knowledge of playing at home. Their one weakness is the lack of late-order big hitting but they usually render this irrelevant via big scores from their top order batsmen and the finishing capabilities of skipper MS Dhoni.

Aussies will miss Starc
Australia will sorely miss the wicket-taking knack of Mitchell Starc and they still need to prove they can play good spin bowling in India. Nevertheless, they have a power laden batting line-up and plenty of quality all-rounders.

England will also miss the firepower of the injured Steven Finn and they've had their hiccups against quality spin. However, they are now playing with greater freedom and if Joe Root and Eoin Morgan combine well with the prodigious hitting of Ben Stokes and Josh Buttler, their bowlers will have runs aplenty.

South Africa seem to have overcome a recent crisis in confidence. With the emergence of Kagiso Rabada to complement the returning Dale Steyn, their bowling is now a better balance of potency and variety. As well as having to prove that their knockout hoodoo is a thing of the past, South Africa also have to shed the tag of "spin bowling bunnies" that they acquired on their recent tour of India.

There's been a recent trend towards host nations winning World tournaments. The way the star players are aligned, it would be best to follow the punter's adage and bet with, rather than against the run.

345
Number of runs put on by Rohit Sharma and Shikhar Dhawan for the opening wicket in nine Twenty20 matches this year at 38.33

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