Suresh Raina has asked for team India to win the T20 World Cup 2021 for Virat Kohli, as it will be his last T20I tournament as the team's captain. Raina added that the recently concluded IPL will give India an edge over other teams in the competition, which has gotten underway on Sunday, October 17.
India will begin their T20 World Cup 2021 campaign against Pakistan in a Super 12 Group 2 fixture in Dubai on October 24. Before that, the team will play two practice matches against Australia and England.
“For India, the message at the ICC Men’s T20 World Cup is simple — do it for Virat Kohli. It will probably be his last time at this tournament as captain, so it’s very important for him to make everyone believe we can do it and for us to get behind him,” Raina wrote in his column for the ICC.
“India fans can’t wait for the T20 World Cup to start for this reason. We have the players, we have the momentum — we just need to go out there and execute now."
India head into the tournament with recent experience of the UAE conditions from IPL 2021, which was concluded on Friday, October 15. Raina believed that UAE offered similar playing conditions to those in India and Pakistan, which gives the subcontinent teams an edge.
"All of our players have just played the Indian Premier League in the UAE and they have played themselves into top form with eight or nine games in this environment. This (IPL) gives India an edge on all other teams and makes them one of the big favourites to win the T20 World Cup in my opinion. The conditions in UAE are very similar to what we play in India and also in Pakistan. It’s a good opportunity for the Asian teams to come and play their natural game,” he remarked.
India are grouped together with New Zealand, Pakistan, Afghanistan, in Group 2 of the Super 12 stage, with two more teams set to join after the completion of Round 1. The team is well loaded in all departments, especially batting, with KL Rahul having scored 626 runs from 13 matches in IPL 2021, while Virat Kohli aggregated 405 runs in 15.
Raina feels that batting will be the key to success for India in the World Cup.
“For me, the key to success for India’s batting lies in the top three," he said. "Rohit Sharma is a gun player — he has a brilliant record at ICC events in the past and had a great IPL. We need Rohit, KL Rahul and Virat to bat through to 15 overs and lay the platform. They can set the momentum for the India team by doing this. There are lots of electric combinations in the middle order and obviously, Rishabh Pant is going to play a key role there. Hardik Pandya is also very capable as a power hitter. But if the top three are still there at that stage of the innings, there is no target that India can’t chase.”