Sachin Tendulkar opted out of the inaugural World Twenty20 in South Africa in 2007 even as the world debated on whether he was too old for the format perceived to be for young legs. During the Indian Premier League, Tendulkar got a taste of the action from close and now feels that India, led by Mahendra Singh Dhoni, are favourites to retain the title in the aggressive format of the game where handling pressure counts.
"India is the most balanced side in the world and there is no doubt we can defend the title," Tendulkar told the DNA newspaper on Thursday. "The best part is that our team can take any amount of pressure and still perform. Team India actually thrives on pressure. So I would like to put my money on India." "We have very good cricketers in our side and we have proved that this combination is the deadliest."
A young Indian team's surprise success two years ago ensured the shortest format gained instant popularity in cricket's commercial hub. India are strong favourites to win the 12-nation tournament starting on June 5 in England. The defending champions are in Group A with Bangladesh and Ireland. India will be carrying a five-man pace attack to exploit the seaming conditions in England, although the wily Zaheer Khan is an injury doubt. "It is on a par with the best," Tendulkar said of an attack spearheaded by the pacy Ishant Sharma.
"Zaheer, Ishant, Rudra Pratap Singh form a lethal combination, particularly in English conditions. "Our seam attack has a lot of variety and that would come handy in such conditions. On our day, we can demolish any batting side. "We come as a package... (and) I am certain this package is the best in business at the moment. This package has everything which is necessary to make us world champions once again."
Though Tendulkar did well in the IPL, also in South Africa this month, he has refused to put his name forward for selection. @Email:email@example.com * With agencies