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Sunday, February 6, 2011

India go into World Cup as favourites: Dravid

MUMBAI: In what was yet another gathering of a galaxy of yesteryear World Cup stars, the Retro Ceat Cricket Rating Awards 2011 on Thursday night came alive with more unforgettable moments from the nine previous editions.

The difference though was how the past masters felt it was different this time round with pressure weighing more heavy with each approaching day ahead of the much-awaited event to be held in the sub-continent.

Former India captain Rahul Dravid, honoured for his contribution in the 1999 edition in England, gave MS Dhoni and his boys the thumbs up saying that they deserve the tag of favourites given the kind of cricket the side has played in the last few years. "I also like the way MS (Dhoni) chose to describe the pressure being an added responsibility. He has used the right word. It's not pressure but a great privilege to be playing in front of your home crowds and hopefully India should do well. To me, the tournament will heat up after March 19 when the quarterfinalists will make the stage," said Dravid.

Former Pakistan all-rounder Wasim Akram too provided an insight on how his team of 1992 made it possible in Australia. "We walked from our hotel to the venue of the final to find Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan singing in our dressing room. We all had lunch together as well. We felt light and that was a great start for us. I guess, that how one should approach the World Cup."

Recalling the glory days of the 1975 and 1979 editions, former West Indies opening legend Gordon Greenidge said the secret of their success was that they knew their responsibilities too well. "We had players who knew what was expected of them," said Greenidge. About what he expects from his team this time, Greenidge evoked a little laughter saying, "Hope they excel. That's what we've been doing for the last 27 years." On a serious note he added, "They should try and gel as a team which to me is the key."

India's World Cup man Kapil Dev wished Dhoni and his boys all the glory, reminding as always to go out there and enjoy the game. "Just ensure that your best effort is there. My heart says let the best team win, but I do hope that India does it," quipped Kapil.

The batting star of 1975 World Cup from New Zealand Glenn Turner, who hit 171 against East Africa, also tipped India as being "slightly being the favourites."

Australia's Cup winning member of 2007 Matthew Hayden felt that skipper Ricky Ponting would do well to have batting, bowling and fielding captains within the team to look after the responsibilities. "They should also have some characters to keep the dressing room in good cheer. Remember, it's a long, long tournament," said Hayden.

The man who made it possible for Sri Lanka in 1996, Aravinda de Silva backed Kumar Sangakkara and his team to lift the trophy once again. "We have the right balance in the team and the players to excel in the sub-continent conditions," said the man who set the Eden Gardens on fire during the World Cup semifinal in 1996.

The following were the winners of Retro Ceat cricket rating awards: Glenn Turner (1975), Gordon Greenidge (1979), Kapil Dev (1983), Geoffrey Marsh (1987), Wasim Akram (1992), Aravinda de Silva (1996), Rahul Dravid (1999), Sourav Ganguly (2003), Matthew Hayden (2007).

Australia's Shane Watson won the Ceat International Cricketer of The Year Award for 2011 while the Australian team was the Ceat Team of The Year Award 2011.


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