Enjoy playing in front of home fans instead of getting bogged down by their expectations and success would follow -- this is the advice that 1983 World Cup winning team member and chairman of selectors Kris Srikkanth has for the Indian cricket team ahead of the mega event starting February 19.
The flamboyant former batsman said Mahendra Singh Dhoni's men just have to revel in home conditions and play to their natural ability to bring the coveted cup to India, ending a 28-year-old wait.
"I advise the players to play to their natural abilities. Be relaxed. Do not put pressure on yourself. Enjoy when you win the games," Srikkanth told PTI in an interview.
"I have been saying this for some time now that pressure would be there. But the players have to cope with it and come out winners," he said.
Describing the team as a balanced unit, Srikkanth said the strong batting line-up and the spin attack would be India's strength.
"I am confident that the team will do well and win the Cup. There is home advantage. The spinners play a major role on turning wickets. I am confident with the kind of balance we have and the solid batting line-up at our disposal, this team will do the job for us," he said.
Srikkanth, who played 43 Tests and 146 one-dayers, said the current side has enough match-winners to tackle crunch situations.
"It is a team game. We have lot of potential match winners. It is needless to say that our players have to perform for positive results for the good of the team," he said.
"Batsmen and bowlers should complement each other with their respective roles in winning each match leading up to the final. It is a very balanced team and a forceful one at that. That is why our team has been termed as favourites," he added.
Recalling the Indian team's 1983 World Cup triumph, Srikkanth said going into the tournament as underdogs helped as there was no pressure to deal with.
"We were not expected to win the World Cup. Therefore, there was no pressure on us. I think it is good in a way because you are not favoured to win," he said.
Srikkanth said the legendary Kapil Dev's inspirational captaincy played a huge role in ultimately guiding the team to the trophy.
"Most importantly we had a fantastic and positive captain in Kapil Dev, who led from the front. Kapil's all-round abilities were very good. They were crucial for winning the 1983 World Cup," he said.
"We also had lot of all-rounders in the team, which helped us a lot because we had the batting depth up to players coming at number nine and ten. According to the bowling conditions, we had the right bowlers," he added.
Asked to compare the current side with the 1983 team, Srikkanth said the emphasis now would be more on spin bowling given the dusty tracks of the sub-continent.
"At that time in England we had lot of medium pacers who swung the ball and now we have lot of semi all rounders, who could turn the ball in Indian conditions. The only difference is it was pace bowling and now it is spin bowling," he said.
Srikkanth also lauded coach South African coach Gary Kirsten's contribution in making India a strong contender for the trophy.
"He has been doing an excellent job so far and I am sure he will continue the good job and help India win the World Cup," he said.
Team India Should Enjoy Home Conditions: Srikkanth
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