Not many can easily forget Team India's open bus journey from Chattrapati Shivaji International Airport to Wankhede Stadium on a rainy September day after they surprised all by winning the inaugural World T20 in South Africa in 2007.
In the next three editions — England (2009), West Indies (2010) and Sri Lanka (2012) — India have been mere participants and nothing else. They have not even made it to the semifinals of either of the editions.
Of late, MS Dhoni's side has not been having a great time in the middle. After losing the South Africa series in both the one dayers and Test cricket, India struggled in New Zealand and the recently-concluded Asia Cup as well.
On top of that, India have played only one T20 International in 2013, against Australia at home. This raises questions over India's preparedness for the World T20 starting in Bangladesh on March 16. Are Dhoni and his men really prepared for the mega event?
Twenty20 cricket is big in India because of IPL, but it has not been seriously looked upon as far as international matches in the shortest format is concerned. India have played the least number of T20s (46) among the top nine cricketing nations. Pakistan (78) top the list followed by New Zealand (71), Australia (67), England (66), South Africa (63) and Sri Lanka (60).
Lalchand Rajput, who was India's cricket manager in 2007, said T20 cricket needs special preparations. "One has to prepare for T20 the same way he prepares for ODIs and Tests. There are some areas that are common, but it is always better to prepare before an event like this. Players will be in good rhythm. Earlier, the World T20 was held after IPL, so it was easier," said Rajput.
"Since India have played Asia Cup in Bangladesh, they will have an idea of the conditions and know the combinations and would have identified the players suited for this format," he added.
Venkatpathi Raju, one of the selectors that picked the winning combination in 2007, was of a different view. "Nobody expected us to win the World 2007. We had a young team, good all-rounders and players were hungry. We got the combination right and that's how we did it. There is nothing much to prepare as it is one-hour-30-minute game. It is not like 50 overs where you have to plan and prepare. In T20 you cannot take your own time, you don't get time to think," said Raju.
"This team has been playing a lot of cricket and they have just come from Asia Cup. It is easier to adjust to the shorter format after playing Test and 50-over cricket," added the former India left-arm spinner.
However, Raju said the format cannot be taken lightly. "All said and done, it is a game of very fit players. One can't play if he has niggles here and there. In T20, he has to run hard, field and bowl tightly with lots of variations. It is a game for all-rounders and you need a lot of them," said Raju.
Rajput added that Dhoni's boys still have it in them to win. "In 2007, players were hungry for success and it was a mixture of seniors and juniors. This team, too, has some good players. However, it should have had a good preparation before the event," Rajput concluded.