Like EPL, no favourites in T20 format: Rohit
Colombo: India are seen as overwhelming favourites for the tri-nation Nidahas Trophy beginning here on Tuesday, but captain Rohit Sharma played down the perception, saying anything can happen in the fickle T20 format.
"Whether we are favourites or not, that is not something I think about," said Rohit ahead of India's opener against Sri Lanka.
"T20 is such a format where any team can win on that particular day. The game can change in a span of one over, it can slip away … On a given day, any team can beat anyone. How do I explain it? It's like the English Premier League. Some teams may be stronger, but anyone can win on a given day."
Rohit is captaining the team in the absence of Virat Kohli, who has been rested alongside other key players such as Mahendra Singh Dhoni, Hardik Pandya, Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Jasprit Bumrah.
Asked about leading a second-string team again, Rohit said: "I don't look at it that way that I don't have the full team. I'm very fortunate to get the opportunity to lead the team.
"Given the schedule nowadays and the amount of cricket we play, it's important to look after players and give them enough rest when needed. Whenever I've been asked to put on the captaincy cap, it's been an honour."
India have played two full series against Sri Lanka in a six-month span with fans and experts complaining of an overkill of cricket between the two teams. Bangladesh are the third team in the tournament.
However, Rohit insisted the tournament is crucial to the team's progress.
"It's always important to know your bench strength. We're lucky that we have got quality players who are waiting to do well. They have been consistently performing in A tours, Ranji Trophy,IPL cricket.. It's the right time to blood them," he said.
"We want to see how they play here and not rush them in ICC tournaments directly, we don't want them to be taken by surprise. We want to see where they stand as individuals."
Meanwhile, Sri Lanka coach Chandika Hathurasinghe said even a second-string India will be tough to beat.
"If you go by the ratings, India is the No. 1 team, so they always start ahead of the other teams," said Hathurasinghe.
"Whoever comes for India is a very strong team. We have to start well because we haven't been doing well at home. With Bangladesh, because of the last series, we probably have a little edge over them mentally. But still India is the No. 1 team."
He was a tad disappointed that India's was not fielding a full strength side for the tournament.
"We can't control their selection. We are playing the India team so whoever they play on that day we prepare for them. If the stars are there it's good for the spectators, but unfortunately at this stage they've come with a different team," he said.
Australian fast bowling great Glenn McGrath is highly impressed with Indian pacers' performance during the Test series in South Africa and backed them to maintain the momentum in the upcoming tours of England and Australia.
Indian pacers bowled their heart out in the series which the visitors lost 1-2.
"They say you can't win Test matches consistently if you can't take 20 wickets. The bowlers India have at the moment are looking good, especially (Bhuvneshwar) Kumar, Mohammad Shami and Jasprit Bumrah as well as the spinners," McGrath, who is Director of Coaching at MRF Pace Foundation, told reporters here.
He also said apart from the three pacers (Bhuvneshwar, Shami and Bumrah), Hardik Pandya was also doing a good job.
"Obviously Pandya is doing his job as well. There is no shortage of bowlers. So things are looking good for India at the moment," he added.
McGrath also heaped praise on U-19 star Kamlesh Nagarkoti, who attracted a lot of attention with his left-arm pace in the World Cup in New Zealand. It helped him bag a lucrative deal with KKR for the upcoming IPL.
"He has got some good real pace. I was impressed (with his performance) in the U-19 WC. He has got selected for KKR which is another bonus for him. I think he has got a bright career in front of him.
"For someone so young he is able to generate high speeds which will put stress on his body. As long as he looks after his body and concentrate on what he wants to do, he will get the results. He can't get lazy. It's tough to get to the top but it's tougher to stay there," the legendary paceman, who finished with 563 wickets from 124 Tests, said.
On what India had to do well to succeed on the forthcoming tour of England, the former Aussie paceman said it is about getting used to the conditions and adapt to Duke balls.
"It's just about getting used to the conditions. We always say bowl with good control, hit the deck top of off-stump."