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Kapil Dev: India will need luck in the knockouts

Nowadays apart from the openers, anyone can play at the number four spot, said the former skipper
Kapil Dev in New Delhi on Wednesday. (PTI)

PTI   |   New Delhi   |   Published 08.05.19, 09:36 PM

Kapil Dev said India will have no trouble in making the World Cup semi-finals given their “balanced” line-up, which features an “unmatchable” duo in Virat Kohli and Mahendra Singh Dhoni, but will need some luck to progress beyond that.

The World Cup, which begins May 30 in the United Kingdom, will see all 10 participating nations face each other in a round-robin format.

India’s 15-member squad boasts of experienced players like Dhoni, Kohli, Rohit Sharma and Shikhar Dhawan along with in-form youngsters such as Jasprit Bumrah, Hardik Pandya and Kuldeep Yadav.

“India have a great combination of youth and experience. In a way they are more experienced than the other teams. They have the right balance — four fast bowlers, three spinners, and they have Virat Kohli and Dhoni,” Kapil, the 1983 World Cup-winning captain, told reporters at a promotional on Wednesday.

“Dhoni and Kohli have done extremely well for India. Both of them are unmatchable,” he added.

The legendary all-rounder also hailed India’s pace attack, saying it will deliver in English conditions. “The four fast bowlers we have are fantastic. They are very good. I think the English conditions will help them swing the ball.

“Then players like (Mohammed) Shami and Bumrah can bowl 145kmph, and have swing and pace as well,” he said.

Kapil, who has also coached the Indian team in 1999-2000, predicted that Kohli and Co. will reach the semi-finals alongside hosts England and defending champions Australia. “I think India will definitely finish in the top four. After that, it will be really difficult. They do need some luck to progress beyond the semi-finals and win the Cup.

“After reaching the semi-finals, a stroke of luck alongside personal and team performance will determine who goes forward,” he said.

“England, Australia and India are the top three teams. These teams have more strength than the others. New Zealand or West Indies can emerge as the surprise package,” he said.

In fact, even last month Kapil had said that India would “definitely win” the World Cup if they had a stroke of luck or players suffered no injuries.

In an interview, he had said: 'This Indian team looks very good. “However, it won't be very easy. They have to play like a team, first of all.

“I hope that they will have no injuries as well... If they have a stroke of luck, they will definitely win.'

A lot of debate has been going on regarding who will play at the crucial number four spot for India, but Kapil said it will boil down to the mindset of the players as the position can be taken by anyone other than the openers.

“After watching the T20 games, you don’t know who the opener is or who’s the No. 4. It is very difficult to pick a person, it depends on the mindset of the player,” said Kapil.

“Dhoni went before Yuvraj (Singh) in Mumbai (the 2011 World Cup final). In the last 10 years, cricket has changed. Nowadays apart from the openers, anyone can play at the number four spot,” he said.

Asked about Pandya, who has often been compared to Kapil himself, the 60-year-old former captain said the youngster should be left alone to play his natural game. “You should not put pressure on Hardik. He has enough talent, so let him play his natural game.” 

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