New Delhi: Presence of Mahendra Singh Dhoni as a leader makes the Indian team a good unit going into World Cup, former Pakistan cricketers Inzamam Ul Haq and Shoaib Akhtar said on Monday.
“I believe having Dhoni as a leader is a big factor for the Indian team. An experienced captain in a big ticket event is always a plus. Dhoni is one player, who has performed for India in pressure situations and scripted innumerable comebacks for the team.
Having a leader who knows how to handle pressure makes Dhoni cut above rest,” Inzamam, who has played five World Cups for Pakistan, said during a ‘Cricket Conclave’ organised by a television channel.
Shoaib was even more forthright while dissecting Dhoni’s style of captaincy.
“With due respect and not taking any names, I have seen captains, who hide behind the team under pressure but Dhoni is one guy who would make the team hide behind him when they are under pressure. He is one guy who doesn’t know the meaning of fear,” the straight talking fast bowler expressed his frank opinion.
While Inzamam gave India a “good 60-70 percent” chance, Shoaib rated South Africa and New Zealand as the two teams in with good chance of winning the Cup. Inzamam did not read too much into India’s performance in Test and tri-nation series Down Under.
“Let me tell you a story. In 1992, we went to Australia a month before World Cup. Not many know that we played six warm up games prior to World Cup and lost all six. We went onto win World Cup,” Inzy, who looked completely different in his pathani suit and skull cap, said in his inimitable style.
“The wickets in Australia have become very different from what it used to be during our time. These are good batting tracks. Also two months in Australia have gave them insight and understanding of these tracks.
“Adjustment is always key and Indian team will enjoy the advantage. But I can tell you one thing. Reverse swing won’t be a factor with two new balls from both ends,” the batting artist from Multan said. For Shoaib, there has been a pattern that has emerged since 1983.
“It’s always the last 15-20 days that’s the most crucial in a World Cup competition. It’s a pattern that has emerged since 1983 when teams have got momentum in the last two weeks. In 1999, Australia peaked at right time after indifferent start. In this World Cup its all about three good days.
“India and Pakistan are cornered tigers in the tournament. I think India versus Pakistan opening match will start from dressing room itself,” Shoaib said.
Analysing the strength of the Indian team, Inzamam feels that it’s about “clicking in that match” at start of the World Cup.
“Indian batsmen would need to put up a good score on the board which would in turn make their bowlers feel confident. I think 300 plus would be par-score in the tournament.
You have seen Virat Kohli score four hundreds. I think Indo-Pak match at start will be crucial. A final before final. But I don’t mind losing to India if Pakistan wins the World Cup,” Inzamam said with a grin.