India aim better show against top-flight sides

Shekhar Naiks men open their campaign against Australia

The Indian cricket team has been consistent performer internationally but with the SBI T20 World Cup for the Visually Impaired to begin on Saturday, they are looking to put on a better show against some of the top teams in the world.

The inaugural edition of the tournament involves nine countries battling it out till December 13 in Bangalore. Australia, Bangladesh, England, Pakistan, South Africa, West Indies, Sri Lanka and Nepal are the eight others teams who will be part of the mega event.

The Indian team, led by Karnataka’s Shekhar Naik, will lock horns with Australia in the opening match of the tournament on Sunday -- only the inauguration is scheduled for Saturday — and by the sound of it, they look prepared for the test.

“We have done very well in the 30-over and 40-over formats in the past,” said India coach Patrick Rajkumar on Friday. “We were in the final of the one-day World Cup in 1998 so I don’t see why we would not be in the reckoning to put on a good show. We have also done exceedingly well in recent times and given the amount of practice that has gone into this event, we can be expected to put on a good show.”

The Indian team underwent well-organised training sessions at IIM-B campus to prepare for the World Cup. “In the 15 days we trained at the IIM-B, we focused mostly on fitness and fielding. There was also some concern with the wayward bowling from our B1 (fully visually impaired) bowlers. All those things have been fixed now. We are confident and there are no injury concerns as well,” said Rajkumar, who added that his team had an advantage in that most of the players are all-rounders.

Talking about the skillset required to the coach the side, Rajkumar said: “Unlike how one would work on technique and things like that with normal people, here I solely focus on motivating them. They have this feeling of being lost often and that’s something I work towards getting rid of. I tell them stories of successful people and the kind of hardships that they have had to go through in order to be successful. I basically give them the self-belief to go out there and play for the country.”

The squad: Shekhar Naik (Captain, Karnataka), I Ajay Kumar (vice-captain, Andhra Pradesh), Ganeshbhai Bhusara (Gujarat), Hanuman Pooniya (Rajasthan), K Ramesh (Tamil Nadu), Maneesh A (Kerala), Prakasha Jayaramaiah (Karnataka), Dunna Venkatesh (Andhra Pradesh), Hiteshbhai Patel (Gujarat), Dilip Munde (Maharashtra), Pankaj Bhue (Odisha), Vikas Patel (Gujarat), Ketanbhai Patel (Gujarat), Sanjeev Kumar Dalal (Haryana), Ravi S (Karnataka), Md Jaffar Iqbal (Odisha), Subash Bhoya (Gujarat). Coach: Patrick Rajkumar. Manager: David.
India’s itinerary: vs Australia (December 2), vs England (December 3), vs Sri Lanka (December 6), vs Pakistan (December 7), vs Bangladesh (December 9), vs South Africa (December 10).

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