Dhoni readies for World Cup

India captain ready to put 2007 cricket World Cup failure behind him as India prepare for Bangladesh rematch.

    India will be hoping to put memories of their 2007 World Cup loss to Bangladesh firmly behind them [GALLO/GETTY]

    Expectations weigh heavy on the shoulders of India captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni, who is hoping to deliver his country their first cricket World Cup title since 1983, following their inglorious exit from the 2007 World Cup in the Caribbean.

    Following in the footsteps of Kapil Dev who guided India to their only World Cup triumph 28 years ago, Dhoni now represents the hopes of a nation which has, since then, established itself as a powerbase for the sport.

    Although Dhoni has shrugged off the pressure, he is realistic about his team's chances, knowing it is not going to be anything like the World Twenty20 championship triumph in South Africa four years ago, when he led a young and unfancied team to victory in the first edition of the T20 tournament.

    Line-up

    A batting line-up containing Sachin Tendulkar, Virender Sehwag, Yuvraj Singh and Dhoni has increased his chances. Add the dependable Gautam Gambhir, the in-form Yusuf Pathan and Virat Kohli to the mix, and India begin to look a highly fancied team.

    Dhoni would prefer his squad to be considered underdogs rather than favourites, but is confident the squad has learned from their letdown in the Caribbean four years ago and there won't be any complacency at home.

    "If any side thinks the other sides can't win, that is the biggest mistake,'' he said.

    "All the top sides in the world have a chance of winning the World Cup and it's just about playing consistent cricket.''

    Dhoni and his squad will get their first chance to redeem one of their worst World Cup memories from 2007 when they take on Bangladesh in the opening match of the 2011 tournament at Dhaka on February 19.

    India went into the last World Cup high on confidence after reaching the final in 2003 but cracks emerged quickly with concerns over the team's preparation and cohesion.

    Tension increased after the shocking five-wicket loss to Bangladesh in their opening match.

    That left India needing to beat Sri Lanka just to advance to the Super Eight stage from the four-team group. But the Sri Lankans scored a decisive win over India en route to the final, where they lost to Australia.

    Bangladesh opening batsman Tamim Iqbal is hoping memories of this game will be playing on their opponents' minds when the pair meet at this year's tournament. 

    India team


    Mahendra Singh Dhoni (c)
    Sachin Tendulkar
    Virender Sehwag
    Gautam Gambhir
    Yuvraj Singh
    Suresh Raina
    Virat Kohli
    Yusuf Pathan
    Harbhajan Singh
    Praveen Kumar
    Zaheer Khan
    Ashish Nehra
    Munaf Patel
    Piyush Chawla
    Ravichandran Ashwin

    "It will always work in their mind that they lost to us in the opening game of the last World Cup," Tamim told reporters.

    "So they will be under pressure, not us."

    Home advantage

    For India, high-scoring matches should not be a worry in familiar home conditions this time.

    Apart from Tendulkar, who is aiming to cap his magnificent career with an elusive World Cup title, the Delhi pair of Sehwag and Gambhir complete a formidable top three.

    "Sehwag and Gambhir have been very important players for India and will have a huge role to play in the World Cup,'' said Test batsman VVS Laxman.

    "I think the team has the potential to lift the cup and recapture the glory of 1983.''

    While the pitch and weather conditions are expected to favour the Indian team, the ICC's choice of Kookaburra ball for the tournament is less than ideal for the co-hosts. India usually uses the locally produced SG balls when it hosts series, so it is expected to take time to adjust to the variations in swing and movement in the air.

    SOURCE: Agencies


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