India strong favourites to win World Cup: Cricketing legendsBy IANS
Thursday, December 9, 2010
NEW DELHI - Cricketing legends and past World Cup winning captains Imran Khan, Arjuna Ranatunga and Kapil Dev believe India are strong favourites to win next year’s tournament in the subcontinent, but cautioned that they will have to tide over the pressure of the expectations and playing at home.
They said the strength of the Indian side is that they are many match winners and also have a strong reserve.
Another legend, Vivian Richards, who was also present at a World Cup promotional event here Thursday, said winning will be the “icing on the cake” for Sachin Tendulkar.
“He (Tendulkar) is special not only for India but for internatinal cricket. That World Cup is being held in India, winning it will be the icing on the cake.”
Imran, who came out of retirement to lead Pakistan to World Cup glory in 1992, said that India have a strong bench strength.
“The fact that the Indian team is winning comfortably against New Zealand without the top players shows the strength of their reserves,” said Imran.
“The pressure of being the favourites and playing at home will be there. And the pressure in a World Cup is completely different. It will start to build from the knock-out stages when suddenly if you are in a bad situation, you will think that the World Cup is slipping from your hands. That is when you feel the pressure and have to overcome it,” said Imran.
“We have seen in past that teams entering the World Cup as favourites are not able to win it. Though Australia has managed to do it.”
Ranatunga, who turned around Sri Lanka cricket with the famous World Cup victory in 1996, also said that Indian players will have to tackle pressure.
“Both India and Sri Lanka are favourites. India have too many players to pick from. But India can panic in front of home crowd, not Sri Lanka. I am bit concerned about the Sri Lankan middle order batting. It is not as good as it was in 1996.”
India’s World Cup wining captain Kapil said the selectors will have a lot of options to pick from.
“This Indian side has depth in their ranks and there are many match winners.”
Ricahrds said: “When you are at the top, there is a lot of pressure. There will the crowd pressure too.”
Both Richards and Imran felt that a good series in South Africa will boost India’s confidence before the World Cup.
“It is a tough tour and nothing like a good competitive tour to prepare for the World Cup. They should go out there, win and return with confidence for the World Cup,” said Imran.