India look forward to 'lucky' SA
India's Twenty20 vice-captain, Yuvraj Singh, says that South Africa has been a lucky destination for his team and that he is looking forward to next month's Twenty20 World Championship.
The talented left-hand batsman, now involved in a seven-match ODI series against England, spoke to journalists from Bristol on an ICC conference call on Thursday.
Asked about the importance of the new format, Singh said it was an exciting prospect. "It'll be great for the spectators, with lots of fours and sixes. Furthermore, any World Cup is a big stage," he said, adding that he was particularly looking forward to his country's clash with traditional old enemies Pakistan in Durban on September 14.
"We've got great support in Durban, and I'm sure that it's the kind of game that nobody would want to miss. I'm sure it will be a sellout. South Africa is a lucky country for us, as we reached the World Cup final there in 2003."
Singh conceded that India lacked experience in Twenty20 cricket, having played only one international, against South Africa here on their tour last summer. "But we've played Twenty20 in our domestic season this year which has been helpful."
He said it was obviously a blow to lose their top three batsmen - captain Rahul Dravid, Sachin Tendulkar and Sourav Ganguly - for the tournament, but pointed out that it was important that they rested up before the start of a long season, which included a home series against Pakistan.
"Those guys are not going to be around for ever, so it's a great opportunity for the youngsters to step up. I think that overall we have a well-balanced team with some experienced players balancing out the youth. I feel that fielding and running between the wickets will be very important, and I believe that we maybe have our best-ever fielding side for the tournament."
Singh said the tournament offered a way back into international favour for flamboyant opener Virender Sehwag, who was going through a lean trot. "He's been our greatest opener since Sunil Gavaskar, and I believe this type of cricket will suit his game," said Singh.
Asked to say how Twenty20 differed from the 50-over variety, Singh said that it was primarily a mental adjustment. "Obviously the intensity is greater, as you don't have so much time. It's also a case of playing different shots, setting different fields and generally being very sharp."
Singh, who confessed to having a "dream" of captaining India one day, said that the team had let down their fans in the World Cup in the Caribbean. "It would be great to get that support back with a good performance in South Africa," he said.
Asked to name the favourites for the tournament, Singh said that while Australia were the best team in the world at the moment, it was particularly tough to predict what would happen in the T20 format.