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Cricket World Cup: Kapil Dev on India's chances

ICC Cricket World Cup 2011
Tournament dates: 19 February-2 April Venues: India, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh
Coverage: Highlights on BBC TV (see listings), Red Button & BBC Sport website at 2200 GMT every day (UK users only); Live Test Match Special commentary (BBC 5 live sports extra, online, some games also on BBC Radio 4 LW) and live text commentary on England matches and selected others; Live on Sky Sports

MS Dhoni and Sachin Tendulkar
Dhoni and Tendulkar will be key to India's chances on home soil

By Saisudha Sugavanam
BBC Hindi

India were locked in battle with England on Sunday having enjoyed a near-perfect start to the Cricket World Cup - but according to former captain Kapil Dev the real test will be seeing how they cope with the pressure in the latter stages.

In the tournament's opening match a superb innings of 175 by Virender Sehwag coupled with Virat Kohli's unbeaten 100 led Mahendra Dhoni's side to 370-4, a total Bangladesh never really threatened to chase down.

The one concern was an injury to legendary batsman Sachin Tendulkar but with even that now described as merely a "niggle" home fans remain optimistic that India can add to 1983's World Cup triumph and in the process become the first nation to triumph on home soil.

However, speaking ahead of the tournament, Kapil warned that for the campaign to remain on track captain Dhoni will have to keep a lid on expectations.

In an interview with BBC Hindi, Kapil, who lifted the trophy at Lord's 28 years ago, said: "There will be pressure from several quarters, and Dhoni's role would be crucial in soaking the pressure up. When the matches are played in India, things are very different.

"The team have to meet a lot of people. There will be a lot of pressure from the media, family, and fans. Players will get distracted easily. The captain plays an important role in motivating the players and keeping them intact".

Kapil also added that peaking at the right time will be crucial in a lengthy tournament, adding: "It is a big and a long tournament. The last 15 days are very important. It is important how a team shapes and lifts itself up in that period".

With Kapil and Dhoni being the only Indian captains to win world cups, albeit the Twenty20 version in the latter's case, comparisons between the two captains are inevitable. Kapil, though, is quick to praise the current incumbent.

"Dhoni is actually a better captain than he was," Kapil states.

"He is known to maintain his composure under difficult circumstances, and has earned him the nickname captain cool.

"Given the Indian team dynamics, Dhoni should shed a bit of this calmness and display more aggression on the field. I like his attitude as a player but I don't like him being captain cool. In our country, our system, you need to be more aggressive.

My heart says India will win but my cricketing brain says, look there are other teams

Kapil Dev

"He has so much ability to win matches and that's the greatest thing that he has but he also just has to keep the players together.

"There will be a lot of distractions so if you can keep players together that itself is a victory. He needs to be cool but not so cool that things can drift.

The World Cup could also mark Tendulkar's last chance at World Cup glory after 21 years in international cricket - and a century against England on Sunday showed he retains terrific levels of skill as well as hunger.

Kapil said: "There will be expectations on him. When a player performs so well, there will be expectations. I don't think it's a burden on him. He enjoys it".

However, history is against India. Never in the history of the event has a team won the World Cup final on home soil. Kapil, though, doesn't read too much into this.

"I don't believe in all this," he said.

"There's a lot of pressure playing at home but I don't think there's a jinx, you just have to go and play to the best of your abilities and if you are a good team, you can definitely win it.

"My heart says India will win but my cricketing brain says, look there are other teams. I have a lot of hope for South Africa and Sri Lanka".

Many analysts and ex-cricketers agree with Kapil's view that the Indian side looks like it has what it takes to go the distance. A thousand million Indians will hope they are right.

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see also
Superb Sehwag inspires India win
19 Feb 11 |  Cricket
England & India in thrilling tie
27 Feb 11 |  England
Can India win the cricket World Cup?
18 Jan 11 |  South Asia
Tendulkar in India's World Cup 15
17 Jan 11 |  India
World Cup venues behind schedule
15 Jan 11 |  Cricket
Cricket World Cup 2011 squads
19 Jan 11 |  Cricket
Cricket World Cup 2011
09 Mar 11 |  Cricket

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