Former pace spearhead Zaheer Khan today said the Indian cricket team’s proficiency in playing spin will make the side a firm favourite when it guns for a second World Twenty20 Championship title on home turf come March-April.
“I am sure India will come out with flying colours. Though the format is T20, it is to be played in the sub-continent. Spin can be a part of it and the ability to play spin well can be an advantage,” said the former left-arm pacer, who has retired from all forms of cricket except IPL.
Zaheer, an invitee at the event to extend the sponsorship tie-up between the ICC and MoneyGram for eight more years, said the dynamic nature of the Twenty20 format have ended up rubbing on to the ODIs as well.
“There have been lot of changes which add excitement to the game. There have been a lot of innovations from the batters. On the whole the game has become dynamic. The impact of T20 can be seen in ODIs as well as in Test matches,” said the 37-year-old Zaheer who has retired after playing 92 Tests and 200 ODIs.
“Playing in the (ICC Cricket) World Cup is special. It’s right up there as in your career you play very few World Cups. Playing in front of the home crowd and winning it in 2011 makes it something special,” said the former bowler who was part of the triumphant Indian team that won the World Cup by beating Sri Lanka in the final at the Wankhede Stadium here in 2011.
ICC CEO Dave Richardson, who was also present in the function, said the governing body is aiming to cricket as popular as football worldwide.
“Cricket has never been more popular. During the
2015-19 cycle we want cricket to become the most popular sport in the world. It’s currently second only to football. The actual viewership for the 2015 ICC Cricket World Cup was 125 million with one million spectators coming to watch it (physically) in Australia and New Zealand. There were also 36 million followers digitally,” said Richardson.
He pointed out that a new team Oman will be seen in the upcoming World T20 Championship to be played from March 8-April 3.
“Cricket is played in 105 countries presently and if we include the West Indian countries as separate entities the figure should go up to 120. Sixteen teams will be seen in the World T20 Championship for which newcomer Oman has qualified.
There are new faces to look forward to.”