Indian captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni on Tuesday predicted a keen contest during the upcoming World Twenty20

MUMBAI: Indian captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni on Tuesday predicted a keen contest during the upcoming World Twenty20, saying the race for the title was too close to call.

“Anything can happen in T20 cricket,” Dhoni told reporters ahead of the team’s departure for the Caribbean where the 12-nation tournament starts on April 30.

“The format of the game is such that you just can’t afford to relax. There will be no easy matches. Anyone can win it.”

India won the inaugural World Twenty20 in South Africa in 2007, but failed to qualify for the semifinals in the second edition in England last year when Pakistan took the title.

Dhoni said fatigue would not be a factor for his team, despite enduring the rigours of the six-week Indian Premier League Twenty20 tournament which ended on Sunday.

“We have to respect the schedule,” said the Indian skipper, who led Chennai Super Kings to this year’s IPL title.

“Playing for the country is more important that playing in the IPL and that is enough to energise the boys. The good thing is that everyone is fit and looking forward to the tournament.

“We have a good chance to win the title because there is a lot of talent in the team. But we have to play to our potential. Let’s just hope for the best.”

India will be handicapped by the absence of hard-hitting opener Virender Sehwag, who suffered a shoulder injury during the IPL and was replaced by Tamil Nadu opener Murali Vijay.

With record-breaking batsman Sachin Tendulkar not part of the T20 side since 2007, the onus will be on Gautam Gambhir, Suresh Raina, Yuvraj Singh and Dhoni to bolster the batting.

India, drawn in group C, meet first-timers Afghanistan in St Lucia on May 1, before clashing with South Africa at the same venue the next day.

Two teams from the group will advance to the Super Eights round. The final will be played in Barbados on May 16. India’s T20 squad: Mahendra Singh Dhoni (capt), Gautam Gambhir (vice-capt), Murali Vijay, Suresh Raina, Yuvraj Singh, Yusuf Pathan, Dinesh Karthik, Rohit Sharma, Harbhajan Singh, Ravindra Jadeja, Piyush Chawla, Zaheer Khan, Praveen Kumar, Ashish Nehra, Vinay Kumar.

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