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Spinners will be vital

cricket Updated: Feb 14, 2011 01:30 IST
Anil Kumble
Anil Kumble
Hindustan Times
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This isn't 1992, when the Kenyan-born New Zealander Dipak Patel so sensationally opened the bowling with his off-breaks, in a bid to temper the Australian openers attacking instincts in the first 15 overs. This time around, it would be surprising if any of the stronger teams, even the ones like India, England, Sri Lanka or New Zealand, with a mainline spinner in the team, open with spin.

Important role
Having said that, the role of the bowlers, and, perhaps vitally, the spinners, will be crucial in a World Cup held on the subcontinent's batsmen-friendly wickets - if bowlers aren't on top of their form, whatever the batsmen do is unlikely to be enough, simply because too many teams are fairly even in terms of strengths and weaknesses.

Dealing with pressure
Though India should be used to pressure by now, given the kind of media scrutiny the Indian team lives under day in and day out, it's still not easy. For some of the younger players playing their first World Cup, a Cup at home with dozens of channels focusing on their every move and the public living and breathing cricket day in and day out during that period, the emotional reactions that will accompany their every action on the field might be the toughest part.

This is where it will be good to have the calming presence of Gary Kirsten and Paddy Upton, who have helped forge a very well balanced unit and senior players like Sachin, Sehwag, Zaheer and Harbhajan.http://www.hindustantimes.com/Images/HTEditImages/Images/14_02_11_pg19d.jpg

The natural leader
As for Dhoni, the players seem to look at him as the natural leader and that's very important. It's a role that has been the making of him and by extension, the team.

His apparent ability to thrive on the pressure of captaincy will be tested and critical to India's chances.

Anyone's Cup
Still, this will be a wonderful World Cup in the fact that there are any number of teams that have a good chance of winning. While I wouldn't want to pick a clear favourite, I do think India have a very good chance to make this one special, yet England, equally, are a very strong and well-balanced team and will pose a strong challenge.

Sri Lanka again, are a strong unit at home and under these conditions but South Africa, perhaps, are the other strong favourites given their potentially lethal opening bowlers.

Then, three-time champions Australia will be looking to make this a fourth. Of the others, Pakistan, of course, are the perennial "dangerous team to write off".

Busy time
Meanwhile, here at the KSCA, I barely have had time to breathe. As players, we seldom think about the operational details and logistics that go into hosting a big event. I know now that the pressure here is equally intense.
But it's an experience and I'm enjoying every moment.

Hawkeye Communications/Chivach Sports