Nagpur - Hosts and hot favourites India
begin their quest on Tuesday to become the first team to win cricket's World
Twenty20 twice as they get the group stages under way against bogey team New
While Mahendra Singh Dhoni's men are trying
to keep their feet on the ground, fans and legends of the game are fuelling a
growing mood that no one can stop a side that has won 10 of its last 11 T20
It is the first time that India has hosted
the world cup of cricket's newest format, a tournament they were initially cool
on until Dhoni led them to victory in the inaugural event in South Africa nine
Kapil Dev, the hero of India's 1983 50-over
World Cup triumph, believes that India "are the overwhelming
favourites" to win the T20 trophy again, this time in their own backyard.
"India have the strongest set of
players, and never has any team looked so formidable and sure of winning the
title as they do at this tournament," Kapil wrote in the Mail Today
newspaper on Tuesday.
But wary of India's woeful track record
against the Black Caps in the tournament, star batsman Virat Kohli says the
hosts cannot afford to be complacent.
India have lost four out of their five
previous World T20 encounters against New Zealand, while the other match was
"What we've learned from playing in
big tournaments in the past is that we have to stay as calm as possible and
focus on the skills that need to be executed on the field," Kohli said in a
pre-match press conference.
New Zealand, beaten finalists in last
year's 50-over World Cup, are determined to prove that there is life after the
recent retirement of their talismanic skipper Brendon McCullum.
The Black Caps will also want to put on a performance
to make the late Martin Crowe proud after the recent death of their country's
greatest batsman, and will wear black armbands in tribute.
"Some blokes in the side, they were
very close to Martin and I guess they will deal it in their own way throughout
the tournament and throughout the cricket that is coming up," said new
captain Kane Williamson.
"He was a big part of their lives as a
cricketer and as a person."
The opening match in Nagpur is widely
expected to yield a feast of runs, with India's front-line batsmen all in form
while New Zealand have an array of big-hitters who have racked up big scores in
They thrashed holders Sri Lanka last week
when Colin Munro, Grant Elliott and Corey Anderson all posted rapid
half-centuries, while Williamson smashed an entertaining 63 in a narrow defeat
to England on Saturday.
The build-up to the tournament has been
marred by a row over security for Pakistan, who delayed their departure until
organisers agreed to switch Saturday's match against arch-rivals India from
Dharamsala to Kolkata.
Fans outside India were also left
exasperated by the late release of tickets which only went on sale late last
While India can expect to be roared on by a
packed house, New Zealand's famous 'Beige Brigade' supporters are likely to be
thin on the ground in Nagpur.