Days before the fabled clash between India and Pakistan in the ongoing ICC World Cup, 1983 World Cup-winning captain Kapil Dev backed the Indian team to emerge victorious against their arch-rivals on Sunday. The former India captain admitted that Pakistan were considered favourites during his playing career but the scenario has undergone a sea-change since then.
Kapil Dev also said that the Virat Kohli and his boys are playing good cricket at the moment and will be favourites going into the high-voltage match.
“This Indian team will definitely win against Pakistan because they are playing good cricket at the moment. When I played the game, Pakistan used to be the favourites but now India are a much better side than them and therefore favourites,” the former India skipper said on the sidelines of the launch of Apne11, a daily fantasy sports platform.
India kickstarted their World Cup campaign with victories against South Africa and Australia but suffered a huge setback on Tuesday with opener Shikhar Dhawan being ruled out of the tournament for three weeks due to a thumb injury. The left-handed batsman, who played a pivotal role in India’s 36-run victory against Australia, fractured his left thumb during the contest.
Kapil Dev, however, believes that fans should not ponder on the “negatives” and hoped that the player who replaces Dhawan performs even better.
“Let’s not think negative as we cannot do anything about it. Let’s hope the player who replaces him performs better,” he said before adding, “however, it is always sad when a big player gets injured during a big tournament like the World Cup. It will be slightly difficult but let’s hope the player who replaces him performs even better.”
On being asked if Rishbah Pant or KL Rahul should open the innings in his absence, the former India skipper refrained from speaking on the topic and said, “the team management, selectors and the captain will make a good selection and we shouldn’t comment on it.”
Kapil Dev also wants Hardik Pandya to be better than him but observed that the flamboyant cricketer still needs to improve his bowling to become a complete all-rounder.
He also reiterated that Hardik Pandya shouldn’t be compared with him while lauding his contribution in the previous match.
“We shouldn’t compare Hardik Pandya with me. You should let him play and I hope he plays better than me. He is a talented player and like the way he played the previous match and if he continues to play this way there will be no need for comparison.”
Speaking further on the topic, Kapil said, “He is a batting all-rounder I can feel that. I hope he can keep on improving his bowling. More so he’s a great athlete, great team man and that is important.”
The Indian legend also came to the defence of chinaman Kuldeep Yadav, who has managed to pick one wicket in two matches while giving away 101 runs.
“We cannot expect everyone to pick five wickets. There are days when a player cannot perform well but we need to work as a team. The team performing as a unit is important rather than focusing on individual performance,” he said.
Kapil also reckoned that the pitches in England are very flat and feels that the balance of the game is tilted towards batsmen. “The biggest concern is the pitches in England are getting very flat. If we add a little bit of grass even 250 would be hard to achieve.”
“The game in recent years has been dominated by the batsmen and I personally want the pitches to generate 60 percent help to the batsmen and 40 percent to the bowlers. But unfortunately this is not the case, the pitches at this moment help 75 to 80 percent to the batsmen and they are dominating the contest.”
Hoping that rain gods do not play spoilsport in India’s upcoming fixtures he said, “The team is happy after winning two big matches and let’s hope they continue to perform this way.
“I pray rain doesn’t affect the contests,” he signed off.