'Australian aura and awe have gone'
It is believed that Australia's recent slump in form has thrown the World Cup wide open. Sunil Gavaskar would agree. The former India captain said in Mumbai on Wednesday that Australia have lost their "aura and awe".
"The Australian aura and awe has gone now," Gavaskar said at a signature campaign for the Indian team at Police Gymkhana. "New Zealand, England and West Indies have beaten them in the last three to four months. These defeats have given all the teams the belief that they can beat Australia."
Gavaskar linked Australia's failures - against England in the Commonwealth Bank series final and a 3-0 thrashing by New Zealand in the Chappell-Hadlee Trophy – to the Indian team's triumph over the then champions West Indies in the league stage of the 1983 World Cup.
"It's like we beat West Indies in the preliminaries in 1983 (World Cup) and then started to believe that we could beat them one more time."
Gavaskar felt that the current Indian team, which was to depart for the West Indies early on Thursday, has had enough match practice under its belt.
"This team is much better prepared than ours in 1983 because of the sheer volume of One-day cricket that it has played and against almost all the opponents," Gavaskar said. "I am not saying this is a better team, please do not misquote me."
He added that the team has flexibility in the opening combinations with five men, including captain Rahul Dravid himself, being able to do the job.
"And like in 1983, when we had Madan Lal, Roger Binny and Jimmy (Mohinder) Amarnath, this team also have Sachin Tendulkar, Virender Sehwag and Yuvraj Singh (who are primarily batsmen) who can bowl."