The second edition of the ICC World Twenty20 is less than a month away and most of the squads have been announced. It has been a long time since a major global tournament has started without Australia being favorites, but that is certainly the scenario on this occasion.
India are the team to beat. They are the holders and are even stronger than they were in winning the inaugural tournament in South Africa in September 2007.
The two Indian Premier League tournaments that have taken place since that event have exposed India's players to Twenty20 cricket far more than their rivals and it would be no surprise if India commenced a stranglehold on what could become the most prized trophy in world cricket . Their younger generation of players are getting vital exposure to the format, alongside the world's best players.
Many of those players are India's own. Some overseas stars have lit up the IPL, notably Adam Gilchrist, Matthew Hayden and Lasith Malinga, but the quantity of Indian star performers stands out. It is telling that Australia's best Twenty20 players have retired from international cricket. Australia might be thinking of calling Hayden and Gilchrist into their side again.
India's T20 world cup squad is full of big hitters . MS Dhoni, Virender Sehwag, Yuvraj Singh and Yusuf Pathan and adaptable stroke makers like Suresh Raina, Rohit Sharma and Gautam Gambhir. Crucially they have bowlers experienced in the format, adept at out-thinking batsmen when the slog is on. Spin is vital in T20 and Pragyan Ojha could be the slow bowler of the tournament.
The short nature of Twenty20 matches means surprise cricket results are more likely and there are of course plenty of match-winners in other squads, but it would be a major surprise if India's all-star line-up did not retain the world Twenty20 trophy.