Mumbai: Joining the chorus, New Zealand T20 skipper Kane Williamson picked India as the favourites to win the ICC World Twenty 20, which commenced today with the qualifiers.
"India will probably be the favourites for this tournament. But all teams will come here believing they can win this tournament," said Williamson at the pre-tournament media conference after the team's first training session at the Wankhede Stadium in Mumbai.
"I think being the favourites, they are certainly a team that will be tough to beat in the competition. They have got a number of players who can win the matches. That's part and parcel of having a good short format side and so that's certainly what the Indian side have," Williamson added.
New Zealand will take on the hosts in their campaign opener on 15 March in Nagpur and the 25-year-old batsman said it would be great to get off to a good start against the mighty Indians. "We have a tough match first up. We will be preparing as well as we can for these conditions. It will be great to get a
good start (against India), so that we can carry the momentum forward into the tournament,"Williamson, who will be playing in his third World T20 tournament, said.
He said it would be crucial to adopt plans against different opponents. "From our perspective, we want to focus on our cricket. How we play as best we can. It will go a long way for us to be successful and at the same time be smart -- I mean how we adopt plans against opposition sides," said the new skipper.
Williamson, who has succeeded Brendon McCullum as captain, said the team was in a transitional phase after the retirement of the aggressive wicket-keeper-batsman and stressed that they needed to play smart cricket as per the conditions in the country.
"It's important we adapt and play good and smart cricket. Cricket can be quite different in these conditions. We need to prepare well. Coming here things will be a little bit different. We need to be smart.
"Brendon was very expressional as a leader both on and off the field. It's an exciting challenge. The team has come along a long way in recent years. We are relatively quite young. We are a good mix of youth and experience. It makes for an exciting side," he said.
Williamson, who made an impressive Test debut at Ahmedabad in 2010 against India, said it was important to use the inputs of those players who have played in the IPL. "A lot of guys have played a lot of cricket here. It's important to tap into their experience. It will certainly help our cause. A lot of them have played alongside a lot many international cricketers."
He said that while spin bowling will be an important part of the tournament, seam bowling would not be left behind. "Yeah, especially when you come to India you assume that the ball will spin on some of these surfaces. We have got some young, exciting spinners and they will be looking forward to bowl. Spin is likely to play a part, but I have no doubt that seam will also play a big part and we have world-class seamers in our line-up. They are all fit," said Williamson.
Heaping praise on Martin Guptill, Williamson said, "Martin's been absolutely smashing for quite a while and that's huge for our side. He has scored huge amount of runs so quickly and he has won a lot of games for us. We are certainly hoping that he continues that and keep playing with that
On the issue of corruption in the game, he played safe. "Education around those issues is there. You go to at least one seminar every year and everyone's well educated. As far as our side is concerned, we are just excited to come here to play in a great tournament like this T20 World Cup."